Founder Focus with Hannah of ChicP Houmous
While Shona Vertue turned what she was already doing into a thriving business, this week we met with Hannah McCollum to hear how she identified the opportunity to create something delicious out of a growing, global problem.
Made from surplus vegetables, ChicP Houmous is available in four different variants (Beetroot + Sage, Herby, Banana + Cacao and Ginger + Turmeric) and, in the words of Ottolenghi, is the “food of life, really”.
We caught up with Hannah to find out more about how ChicP Houmous came about…
WHAT WAS YOUR EUREKA MOMENT?
It was clear to me early on that food waste was becoming an increasing problem in today’s society. This combined with the increasing popularity of houmous, a dip that everyone loves and which I was making from my own leftovers on a weekly basis, it was clear that this was going to be the birth of ChicP!
WHAT WAS YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH?
ChicP creates a variety of healthy, unique and delicious houmous from surplus and imperfect fruit and vegetables.
With a healthier houmous (30% vegetable content), our ethos and key USP is that we are a sustainable company by using surplus/excess ingredients and having recyclable materials. We are also a fun, innovative, exciting, vegan, free from all allergens and natural brand, so ChicP hits all the current food trends – what’s not to want?
HOW DID YOU TRIAL CHICP?
I hosted several houmous tasting evenings at my flat with school and university friends and provided them with feedback forms – they were brutally honest…
I also exhibited at Farehealthy, my first foodie festival, and it was this event that gave me the confidence to carry on. Everyone loved the houmous and we nearly sold out!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE THINKING OF STARTING A BUSINESS?
I would encourage people to make sure they know what their niche and USP is. The market is becoming increasingly saturated so it’s so important that your product stands out.
You also need to be passionate about what you are producing and selling. Remember, you’re going to be living with this product day in and day out so if you don’t love it, you’re going to get tired of it very quickly.
WHAT IS THE BOOK YOU WOULD RECOMMEND EVERYONE READS?
I absolutely loved ‘Better Business, Better Life, Better World: The Movement’ by Masami Sato.
WHAT IS THE MOST WORTHWHILE INVESTMENT YOU’VE MADE?
Getting my houmous outsourced. Once I had orders from proper retailers, I couldn’t make it myself anymore. I also didn’t want to hire a kitchen or staff due to the expense, time and energy so I jumped the gun and employed a manufacturer. The right one was difficult to find and a challenge to start but it’s been worth it.
WHAT ONE FAILURE ARE YOU GLAD YOU EXPERIENCED?
Being delisted from a store. It made me realise that you have to keep on top of your own sales to maintain your listing. We’re now back in said store and I try to focus on doing my best to support them.
WHAT PIECE OF INDUSTRY ADVICE YOU DO YOU OFTEN HEAR BUT DISAGREE WITH?
Tricky one! There are so many people who have their opinion on what’s going to happen to businesses when we Brexit and the trouble is, they all think they’re right. I’m just going to take it as it comes, take it in my stride and be optimistic. There’s not much else that you can do about it.