Sara Roberts

Sara Roberts

How I started: Healthy Nibbles

Entrepreneur Sara Roberts reveals what inspired her to launch the award-winning healthy vending and B2B snack vending start-up.

Sara has been nominated for the BQ Festival's Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year award, and you could be too!

Tell us about your business, what does it do?

Healthy Nibbles is an award-winning healthy vending and B2B snack service. Our goal is to help companies improve company culture, pioneering new workplace wellness ideas and increasing employee engagement.

Our unique proposition is delivered through our commitment to using genuinely healthy products, which meet the needs of consumer demand for increased access to healthy snacks and functional drinks.

Healthy Nibbles vending machines are 100% cashless, with multi-buy facility, wheelchair user display option and most importantly, full nutritional and allergen information presented prior to purchase through our touch screen interface.

 

What did you do before you started this business?

Prior to starting Healthy Nibbles, I founded and ran a brand semiotics and innovation consultancy throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.

Brand semiotics is all about how human beings create meaning; the analysis of how consumers attach meaning to brands and the application of this insight into brand development.

This experience has helped Healthy Nibbles reach the stage we are at today, in particular, our ability to connect and engage with our customers.

 

What inspired you to start up?

Several years ago, I sat at the hospital bedside of my father. It was 3am and I was hungry! The only food available was from a vending machine.

Standing in front of the vending machine, it suddenly occurred to me that there were no healthy options. Alongside the machine was a poster with the message; “diabetes and obesity kill”!

It was staggering to realise that in a place where people are trying to get better, the food options were not conducive to good health.

After that experience, there were several situational ‘prompts’ over the following months, particularly as I had given up sugar and often worked from client offices where there were no healthy options.

 

How would you describe your business to your grandma?

Award-winning, healthy vending machines and office snacks.

 

Where do you get advice, support or help?

We have benefitted (and continue to get support) from several sources of advice and support. Business Gateway has been a great to obtain information at a local level; access to grants and networks, local suppliers and programmes that are relevant to our business activity.

Networks such WeDo Scotalnd, Entrepreneurial Scotland and the Scottish Business Network have helped create an build relationships with a variety of mentors, champions and business leaders.

 

Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?

Healthy Nibbles have utilised a variety of funding sources on our journey so far. Early stage Business Gateway grants, and Start-up Loans provided funding during the early stages, As we gained traction, we secured £100,000 seed investment and are now raising £1m Series A round.

 

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

Our greatest achievement is not in a single success, but a reflection of the growth we have since since Healthy Nibbles was founded.

We are award-winning, have launched our first own-brand product (which is also the first of its kind in the UK market), have an amazing team and are consistently receiving ten out of ten feedback from our customers!

 

How do you differentiate your business from others?

Healthy Nibbles is a gamechanger within corporate wellbeing, facilitating on-the-go healthy snacking within the workplace, delivering tangible results.

Companies working with Healthy Nibbles can expect to see at least 24% cost reduction as a result of increased productivity, preferred employer status and higher chances of reaching the Times Top 100 List.

Very simply Healthy Nibbles is the solution to several critical pain points for organisations just now: health, lifestyle, talent retention, diversity, differentiation and customer acquisition.

 

What’s it like to be your own boss?

It’s a unique experience to every business owner. I have always worked for myself, therefore to a certain extent it is the ‘norm’. However with each business, there have been different experiences and lessons.

Healthy Nibbles has been the most challenging. It provides a daily learning curve and the opportunity to challenge expectations and perceptions.

The similarities across the businesses – be prepared to think on your feet, find solutions to problems, multi-task, work hard, push yourself to understand the dynamics of finance, hr, legal, product development, customer engagement….

 

Where do you see your business in 5 years time?

We have ambitious plans for the next five years, in terms of machine volumes, snack distribution, own brand snacks and the customer experience.

We will be the food and nutrition market leader in corporate wellbeing, envisage our vending machines communicating with wearables, providing healthy snack solutions in unexpected environments and building brand engagement that connects employees and employers.

We are in the process of building a strong board and advisory team with the expertise to challenge, nurture and help build a strong and sustainable business.

 

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Be honest with yourself. Is your product or service genuinely different or better? Do you want to create a lifestyle or high growth business? How important is control versus wealth? You will need unwavering self belief and walk the fine line of knowing when to take advice or when to walk away from advice given. Follow your gut!

Tell us about your business, what does it do?

Healthy Nibbles is an award-winning healthy vending and B2B snack service. Our goal is to help companies improve company culture, pioneering new workplace wellness ideas and increasing employee engagement.

Our unique proposition is delivered through our commitment to using genuinely healthy products, which meet the needs of consumer demand for increased access to healthy snacks and functional drinks.

Healthy Nibbles vending machines are 100% cashless, with multi-buy facility, wheelchair user display option and most importantly, full nutritional and allergen information presented prior to purchase through our touch screen interface.

 

What did you do before you started this business?

Prior to starting Healthy Nibbles, I founded and ran a brand semiotics and innovation consultancy throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.

Brand semiotics is all about how human beings create meaning; the analysis of how consumers attach meaning to brands and the application of this insight into brand development.

This experience has helped Healthy Nibbles reach the stage we are at today, in particular, our ability to connect and engage with our customers.

 

What inspired you to start up?

Several years ago, I sat at the hospital bedside of my father. It was 3am and I was hungry! The only food available was from a vending machine.

Standing in front of the vending machine, it suddenly occurred to me that there were no healthy options. Alongside the machine was a poster with the message; “diabetes and obesity kill”!

It was staggering to realise that in a place where people are trying to get better, the food options were not conducive to good health.

After that experience, there were several situational ‘prompts’ over the following months, particularly as I had given up sugar and often worked from client offices where there were no healthy options.

 

How would you describe your business to your grandma?

Award-winning, healthy vending machines and office snacks.

 

Where do you get advice, support or help?

We have benefitted (and continue to get support) from several sources of advice and support. Business Gateway has been a great to obtain information at a local level; access to grants and networks, local suppliers and programmes that are relevant to our business activity.

Networks such WeDo Scotalnd, Entrepreneurial Scotland and the Scottish Business Network have helped create an build relationships with a variety of mentors, champions and business leaders.

 

Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?

Healthy Nibbles have utilised a variety of funding sources on our journey so far. Early stage Business Gateway grants, and Start-up Loans provided funding during the early stages, As we gained traction, we secured £100,000 seed investment and are now raising £1m Series A round.

 

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

Our greatest achievement is not in a single success, but a reflection of the growth we have since since Healthy Nibbles was founded.

We are award-winning, have launched our first own-brand product (which is also the first of its kind in the UK market), have an amazing team and are consistently receiving ten out of ten feedback from our customers!

 

How do you differentiate your business from others?

Healthy Nibbles is a gamechanger within corporate wellbeing, facilitating on-the-go healthy snacking within the workplace, delivering tangible results.

Companies working with Healthy Nibbles can expect to see at least 24% cost reduction as a result of increased productivity, preferred employer status and higher chances of reaching the Times Top 100 List.

Very simply Healthy Nibbles is the solution to several critical pain points for organisations just now: health, lifestyle, talent retention, diversity, differentiation and customer acquisition.

 

What’s it like to be your own boss?

It’s a unique experience to every business owner. I have always worked for myself, therefore to a certain extent it is the ‘norm’. However with each business, there have been different experiences and lessons.

Healthy Nibbles has been the most challenging. It provides a daily learning curve and the opportunity to challenge expectations and perceptions.

The similarities across the businesses – be prepared to think on your feet, find solutions to problems, multi-task, work hard, push yourself to understand the dynamics of finance, hr, legal, product development, customer engagement….

 

Where do you see your business in 5 years time?

We have ambitious plans for the next five years, in terms of machine volumes, snack distribution, own brand snacks and the customer experience.

We will be the food and nutrition market leader in corporate wellbeing, envisage our vending machines communicating with wearables, providing healthy snack solutions in unexpected environments and building brand engagement that connects employees and employers.

We are in the process of building a strong board and advisory team with the expertise to challenge, nurture and help build a strong and sustainable business.

 

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Be honest with yourself. Is your product or service genuinely different or better? Do you want to create a lifestyle or high growth business? How important is control versus wealth? You will need unwavering self belief and walk the fine line of knowing when to take advice or when to walk away from advice given. Follow your gut!