Meriel Kehoe and Lucy Woodhouse of Claudi & Kin
Lucy and Meriel, the entrepreneurs behind healthy ice lolly brand Claudi & Fin, reveal how they raised the capital needed to scale their business…
Entrepreneurs Meriel Kehoe and Lucy Woodhouse first met whilst taking their kids to a local children’s playgroup.
A few playgroups later, the pair found themselves discussing the challenges of getting good food into their children’s mouths, something most parents face.
This chance meeting was what sparked the idea to launch Claudi & Kin – a healthy low-sugar frozen lolly brand for those looking for an alternative to the usual sugary frozen treats on the market.
Three years on and the pair now sell their frozen lollies to over 3,000 stores and restaurants in the UK and Ireland and have ambitious plans to continue growing.
BQ caught up with the pair to hear how they raised the capital needed to build the business and their top tips for start-ups looking to emulate their success.
Tell us a bit about your business, what does it do?
We're Lucy and Meriel and we're the co-founders of Claudi & Fin, and we make naturally healthier frozen desserts for families the world over.
Packed with real fruit, whole milk and enriched with vitamin D, our low sugar, low calorie lollies appeal to the growing number of consumers looking for a healthier alternative to ‘traditional’ lollies and ice cream.
Consumers are crying out for healthier choices and Claudi & Fin are leading the revolution in ice cream.
How has your business journey panned out so far?
We started business life as two mums at our kitchen table with a ravenous desire to make a healthier lolly for our kids, Claudia and Fin.
Tired of the sugar and additive laden lollies, dressed in garish packaging of our 1970s childhoods, we spent a year and a half creating the perfect frozen yoghurt lolly, made with 100% natural ingredients including Greek-style yoghurt and loads of real fruit.
Six months later, having never sold a single lolly in our lives, we’d won a contract to supply 250 Sainsbury’s stores. Two and a half years on, we’re now stocked in over 3,000 stores and restaurants in the UK and Ireland.
How did you fund your ambitions? What did it lead to?
Initially we funded the business through personal savings we had but that pot soon ran dry. Luckily we found StartUp Loans and they supported us at a very crucial stage of the business, just prior to launching in Sainsbury's.
For the first time, our business plan and financials were scrutinised and actually it was a welcome relief after the initial fear!
It was brilliant to have someone who was looking at business plans and financials all day every day because it validated what we believed in but also challenged us too, which is so important when there are just two heads working on a business.
In the end, he suggested a much smaller loan based on our forecasts for the year and he was absolutely right.
A little time after we secured further investment through friends and family to support the business. This allowed us to do start running some marketing for the business and to employ another member of staff.
As she explains here:
What advice do you have for other companies seeking funding?
There is a lot of support out there to help businesses seeking funding but often it's a difficult choice about when to do it and what kind of funding is right for your business at that time.
The British Business Bank’s Business Finance Guide is a great place to start as it presents the information in a way that allows you to see the advantage of each option at each stage.
My top tip is make sure you know what you are going to spend your funding on. It sounds obvious but it's absolutely crucial.