On the up · 27 June 2018

A chance meeting on Spare Room lead to Griddle co-founders feeling flippin’ marvellous about their startup

Griddle founders, Ella Harland and Sophie McGregor

Friends, founders and fellow foodies, these women flipped their way into business with their healthy American styled pancake startup, Griddle.

Fed up of what was already on the market, Sophie McGregor and Ella Harland decided to develop their own recipe of the perfect pancake, and after touring the country they have finally cracked it.

Business Advice caught up with the co-founders to find out how the friendship turned into a business venture.

Who are you and what is your business?

We are Sophie McGregor and Ella Harland. We met on Spare Room two years ago and have been flippin’ pancakes since! We make wholegrain pancakes for retail and trade. A source of protein, high in fibre, no refined sugar and never anything artificial. Just heat them up and tuck straight in or pile them up and serve with lashings of maple syrup or peanut butter.

We were tired of soggy cereal and lack-luster toast, we set out on a mission to reclaim the pancake. It ignited a journey to create outrageously tasty pancakes that were unbelievably good for you.

Hundreds of pancakes were flipped, multiple pans were burnt, several factories were visited…but we finally bring you great tasting, fuss-free, healthy mornings!

We break the norm, we wanted pancakes that would fuel our runs not send us into sluggish stupors. We wanted flavours that sent us back to nostalgic places.

How did you fund your business?

We self-funded the business for the first year and a half, quickly burning through savings as we toured the country looking for manufacturers and brought endless amounts of ingredients trying to perfect the humble pancake.

Last year we were backed by key industry leaders helping propel us to market.

What challenges can women expect to face in business?

I think the challenges early on are much the same for women as well as men. You really have to get out there and prove your concept. This especially comes true when you are dealing with big manufacturers, they have to truly believe in your vision.

Do you think there are enough women running their own businesses?

The food and drink sector is great for women but what we really have to do is ensure that these women go on to develop and manage really successful companies.

At seed stage, there are plenty of opportunities but it’s as you get higher up the pecking chain that you see more businesses run by men.

What do you think are the advantages of having more women in business?

Women represent a higher proportion of the buying power. Although the male role in household shopping has increased in recent years, across the country it is still women who shop the most. So why not have these shoppers represented by brands run by females.

Have you ever had any discriminative experiences because of being female?

Thankfully not!

How do you handle knockbacks?

Securing a manufacture, we ended up getting so far down the pipeline with one producer to be told they wouldn’t take us any further. That was a really hard moment.

What advice do you have for other women wanting to start their own business?

Just do it, and don’t be afraid to ask around and reach out to people for advice. If you don’t try you’ll never know. Don’t underestimate how long it takes. And unless you want to make things hard for yourself, stay in ambient

What can the business community do to help more women entrepreneurs?

Sophie: Having more active female mentors.

I know several people who have fallen at the first hurdle with buyers or manufacturers simply because they weren’t taken seriously.

What marketing strategies have you used?

Our marketing has been focused to branding and Instagram for the time being. Instagram provides a platform for us to get across the lifestyle elements of the brand.

The key focus creating the on-pack branding was to create a package that brings that emotional connection to the consumer as well as the health attributes of our pancakes. It has to something that really stands out on the shelf and that is truly memorable.

How do you hope your business to develop in the future?

We want to increase the range of flavours we have and within the next 5 years, we’d love to launch the brand in the US.

Who are your business heroes?

Richard Reed, we know it’s a cliché but what he did with Innocent was amazing and he’s gone on to help so many other successful start-ups. We both used to listen to his podcasts when we started out.

What are you reading at the moment?

Sophie: Sapiens, it’s not exactly bedtime reading but I did my Masters in Archaeology and find that stuff fascinating.

Ella: Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman. It’s a very well written, often humorous book which manages to cover one of (I think) societies biggest taboo subjects: loneliness.  I’m probably supposed to say a business book but I find reading a work-related book before bed means my mind is racing!

Which one song is always on your playlist?

Sophie: I’ll always be listening to Kygo or Lost Frequencies.

Ella: Anything by Dua Lipa, I love her at the moment.

Where was your last holiday?

Sophie: Crete – I went on a mother-daughter holiday.

Ella: L.A. Loved all the amazing food there and crazy healthy trends!

When are you happiest?

Sophie: On my bike, either cycling with my best friend Lils or just letting my mind unravel.

Ella: On a sunny Saturday morning with a home cooked breakfast.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.

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