Start-Up Stories – LioBites
The snacking industry is absolutely thriving, especially when it comes to healthy alternatives. This time we spoke to Anna Oldbury, the founder of LioBites. Read on to see what she had to say about the industry, her story and entrepreneurship…
What are LioBites?
LioBites are new, healthy fruit crisps and smoothie bites. Our delicious snack is made from fruit and nothing else and makes a perfect snacking option for kids and adults. Freeze-drying process preserves maximum amount of nutrients and antioxidants and the fruit remains in its raw form. The health benefits are great but most importantly the fruit crisps are delicious and taste and look like real fruit and this is our USP. Kids love LioBites and not many brands that sell healthy food can say the same.
What’s the story behind the products? How did you come up with them?
I have just given up my work in London and I was looking for a project that would make me more fulfilled and challenge me in a positive way.
“As a mum I felt I wanted to have more work life balance and work on my own terms.”
The idea of healthy fruit crisps was totally accidental and unexpected. My daughter has given me the inspiration as she was constantly picking freeze-dried fruit out of my cereal. She loves snacking and I though what a great snack it is. After further research of freeze-drying I have realised how nutritious and low in calories is freeze-dried fruit in comparison to other method used in the food industry. Having delicious, natural snack that kids like seemed like a great idea, so LioBites brand was born. I am health conscious and I eat very healthy. Launching a healthy snack makes a total sense. You need to believe in your product otherwise it will never work.
Have you always been an entrepreneur?
I am very driven, and I’ve always liked to work and have my own money. Working during school holidays, then selling books on Amazon after I finished school. I set up my first business in 2008 – it was called ItSocks and I was selling fashion hosiery online. I was doing ok, but I didn’t see a future as I couldn’t scale the business. I then return to full time employment and enjoyed it for a while. Setting up LioBites came around the right time. I reached the maturity and had the confidence and experience from my corporate life to deal with suppliers, customers and project manage. I could not have done it 20 years ago.
“People often underestimate how life experience of working and facing challenges can help to build your own business.”
How do you go about creating a new flavour? Is it a lengthy process?
The main factor when creating new flavours is not to be too personal. You need to understand your market and what the customers will like. I am very involved in face to face samplings and take into account all customers opinions and feedback. My panel of tasters at home – my kids and their friends are also part of the market research J
If you could change one thing about the snacking industry, what would it be?
It is very difficult to get a new brand listed, it mostly due to high risk for retailers and limited shelf space. The government should offer supermarkets financial incentives to offer shelf space to smaller brands with healthier options. Currently we need to compete with all the large brands that have established position, very large marketing budgets and often much cheaper product. I don’t blame the retailers as they also need to make money. However long-term issues like raising obesity amongst adults and children are constantly addressed by the NHS, so allocating budget from the public money to help to change eating habits will pay off in long term.
What would you say has been your biggest challenge so far? How did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge was to get the supply chain set up. I am really lucky to have found a great co-packer but getting the timing right for the raw materials, packaging foil and production times is very tricky. We were let down by some people in the past and we will not be using them again, however in business you need to learn on your mistakes and persevere.
How long did it take to bring the products to market?
It took me about 12 months to bring the products to the market. Apparently, it was good timing, considering I didn’t have a huge team to support me.
Where can people find your wonderful products?
We are currently listed on Ocado nationwide, we are also selling on our own website here and on Amazon.co.uk, Yumbles.com and Buylowfodmap.co.uk. We have a large launch in a pipeline that I can’t yet discuss but if you follow our social media, we will announce it as soon as it is live.
What can we expect to see from LioBites in the next 12 months?
We have had amazing 2019 and I look forward to even better 2020. We have just been notified that 3 of our products have been awarded prestigious Great Taste Awards! Our LioBites Banana Crisps received 2 stars and Strawberry Crips and Mango, Banana & passion fruit Smoothie Bites 1 star each! This is following up amazing sales record on Ocado and promising new lines of sales. We are also preparing for crowd funding round on SEEDRS that will enable growth of LioBites team and fast acceleration of our market coverage. The next steps would be to secure a large multiple retailer and significant growth within the UK market and to continue exporting outside of the UK too.
LioBites are absolutely smashing it, we can’t wait to see where they go next. Be sure to grab yourself some of their tasty snacks and check out their social media for updates on their next big announcement!