The healthiest sandwiches in London. That’s the aim for Plan Bread, a new venture specialising in selling and delivering the UK’s lowest carb, lowest calorie (and delicious) sandwiches to London’s office workers. Paul Shackleton’s the man with the plan.
The biggest single event which gave me real pleasure and signalled to me the business was really starting to take off was the hiring of my first employee. That first hire was a good moment and I now have two employees on the delivery side and two baking bread. I’ve had to delay the celebrations – we’re all too busy baking bread and making sandwiches!
Even though the company is 18 months old, it was only two months ago that I had a real breakthrough with our product. Basically the whole ethos behind Plan Bread was originally to bake and make very healthy sandwiches, with as few calories as possible.
Having spent a great deal of time trying out low calorie recipes – each one needs to be sent off to independent laboratories to be tested which can take weeks every time – I gradually realised that while there was interest in low calorie bread, the real demand was for sandwiches made with low carbohydrate bread. The decision to drop all my work so far on the low calorie bread after six months and start again to develop a low carbohydrate bread was a difficult one.
Another setback was the withdrawal of an equity backer at the last minute. I managed to replace the funding after another round of presentations but it taught me that you can’t assume anything until the money is actually in your bank account.
The decision to switch to a low carbohydrate bread has really turned out well, despite the loss of those earlier months of research into the low calorie bread.
Taking on staff is a risk and the additional cost immediately became my biggest outgoing. But sales are going well and I’m talking to a major coffee house and a couple of gyms about supplying my product to them.
When I started out in this business I didn’t realise that it’s not possible to patent a recipe – even Coca Cola can’t patent the recipe for their coke. That means I have to bake the bread myself because there is no legal protection of the secret ‘low carb’ recipe I’ve developed. Typically then I’ll be working from 6.30 am until 7pm weekdays with Saturday off. Unfortunately I have to get some baking done on Sunday ready for Monday so that might mean another four to six hours. I won’t be able to take any holidays until I find a solution to the patent problem, but it’s only been a few months so it still feels quite fresh.
There isn’t a business model that I’ve found that I’ve wanted to follow. I worked in the City for five years as a trader which was a very hard working and driven environment, and I have looked to carry some of that sprit into this venture.
One thing about working for yourself is that it’s your own money and feels a very personal thing. Before that, work was less personal. I’ve been inspired by wanting to show that I could achieve something from scratch. It’s interesting that whenever I catch up with a friend they are so interested in finding out how the business is going – it really defines you.
The big goal is to run my own store and perhaps towards the end of 2013 I hope to search for my own premises.