with Linnea Mullenbach, Co-Founder

This week we got to chat with the team at Peakz, who told us all about their start-up journey! From where they started 7 months ago, to how they’re smashing it now! Check out what they’re all about…

What’s Peakz all about?

Co-founders Aalya Magsi and Linnea Mullenbach launched Peakz in November 2017 and given that only 20% of UK SMEs are purely women run we are proud to have launched Peakz just a mere 7 months ago. As two vegan women, we are truly passionate about creating a delicious and satisfying treat which could sit between pure indulgence and pure health as there is a significant gap between the two in the UK market. In the UK there are few chocolate snacking products so we set out to develop a hybrid product which took the snackability of a bag of crisps and married this with the satisfaction of a chocolate bar.

Our brand story begins with a young polar bear named Nanook, whose adventure is a driving force behind our product. As our founders are both vegan, we wanted to shed light on the effects of climate change and its impact on biodiversity across the world. So we created Peakz. You can follow the story of Nanook on our website as he seeks a sustainable food source for his community due to climate change. Our brand’s mission is to infuse fun into everyday snacking and living. We believe that in today’s world we all deserve a little bit more playfulness and fun and what better way to start than with the food you consume.

When did your passion for making treats begin?

Aalya and Linnea are both big snack lovers and are passionate about discovering new treats throughout the UK and abroad on their many travels. Linnea’s passion for making treats began as a child. She has always been an avid baker and lover of global confectionery and snacks. This started at a young age when her father would take her to local East Asian super markets in Washington, DC and she would try unusual and wonderful foods from across the globe. In addition, from the age of ten, she attended a summer camp in Northern Minnesota where parents would send their children a homemade chocolate treat which is where the inspiration for today’s Peakz came from. Growing up in Pakistan and spending many summers in London and Miami, Aalya has also always been a lover of sweet treats herself. After meeting in London in 2015 the two set out to develop a delicious and moreish chocolate snack. After a year and a half of product development, Peakz was born.

What does it take to build a brand from the ground up?

Building a brand with a strong story which resonates with consumers is multifaceted and takes time to develop. From day one you need to figure out everything from packaging, marketing, commercial viability, warehousing, logistics, selling, and not to mention understanding the consumer and retail landscape of the country you are operating within. A critical part of our business is being able to rely on one another to strategize and support each other on a daily basis. Having a start-up is exciting and dynamic but it can also be demanding as there are many tight deadlines and hard decisions to make. Building a brand requires resilience, motivation, and to be able to face the unknown with confidence.

What’s been the biggest challenge so far, how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge thus far was preparing for the largest UK food exhibition this past April. We exhibited at the Food and Drink Expo at the NEC in Birmingham which was set to be the biggest trade show we had exhibited at since our launch. From planning shell scheme to furniture, lighting, pallet shipments, and physically getting ourselves there was a lot to tackle whilst running the business day today. The event was 3 days with buyers from many of the biggest names in FMCG visiting during this period. As Co-Founders we showed up each day with lots of energy to discuss the brand and products we are so passionate about. Just 6 months into our start-up journey this experience gave us a big confidence boost and we are currently in the midst of securing some big listings from this event.

Why should people be buying Peakz? Aside from their lovely taste!

Peakz are truly delicious and once you start snacking on them you will not be able to stop! Peakz have a wholegrain core dunked in Belgian dark chocolate. They come in three delicious flavours which are the signature plain, chocolate orange and salted caramel. We have gone the extra mile to ensure that all of the ingredients used are all natural, vegan-friendly, non-GMO, and contain no palm oil. In this food industry, it is quite difficult to find glazes which do not contain palm oil or polishes that are devoid of shellac (a material which comes from the lac insect!). Each 32g bag contains 33% of your recommended daily intake of Iron and 25% of your Vitamin B12. In addition, Peakz contains 40% less sugar than commercial chocolate bars. They are the perfect pick-me-up for any time of day whether dunked into your morning tea or coffee like a biscuit, pre-or-post workout for a little boost or to satisfy the afternoon office hunger pangs.

Did you ever think you’d be managing a business, or did it come by surprise?

Aalya has been involved in several start-up projects over the past few years and comes from a family which has many successful businesses. Linnea was always passionate about baking and snacking and felt deep down that a business of her own was the only way to satisfy this desire. Similarly, Aalya always knew she wanted her own business and that traditional careers would not be able to hold her interest in the way a challenging start-up could. Linnea having come from a background in sales and marketing and Aalya coming from a background in psychoanalysis and data analytics, Peakz came at just the right time when both founders were seeking new challenges outside of their current sectors.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as female entrepreneurs within the FMCG market?

The manufacturing, packaging and food industry can be fairly difficult to navigate when first starting out. As 80% of SMEs are male-run we have observed first hand on several occasions how this male-dominated industry can perceive younger female entrepreneurs. When we first started our journey looking for contract manufacturers, packaging producers, and even co-packing we experienced several encounters where it was presumed that we lacked sector knowledge, were spoken down to and in many cases addressed with terms which negated our experience level such as ‘girls’. Women can be taken advantage of in the manufacturing space due to perceived lack of knowledge and perhaps this is due to a lack of information about start-up food businesses existing as well. Without mentorship or extensive research new start-up entrepreneurs can be left feeling unsupported. To mitigate this, we are going to be launching an FMCG food blog to help other startups or those with dreams of having a start-up know some of the critical steps to achieve their dreams and some of the mistakes we have learned from ourselves along the way!

You have three amazing flavours so far, which is your favourite?

It is truly hard to choose. Linnea is not a traditional fan of chocolate orange but is in love with the chocolate orange flavour as the orange oil we use pairs so luxuriously with the chocolate! Aalya’s favourite is by far the salted caramel and it is hard to fault given it is our best seller with orange coming just behind this.

Where can people find your tantalising treats?

Our treats can be found in over 150 UK independents across the country! We launched in Selfridges just a few months ago and have our products available in office snack boxes through Office Pantry and Healthy Nibbles, in addition to vending machines in Westfield shopping centres. We have just launched into Ireland and Iceland and are currently in the process of planning retail launches to the UAE, Germany, Norway, The Netherlands, the US and Hong Kong.

Let’s talk next steps: What can we expect from Peakz in 2 years’ time?

Global Peakz snacking domination of course! We are definitely going to be launching more exciting flavours in the next 6-12 months in addition to adding new formats to the range such as sharing bags and multipacks. In addition, we would like to pledge 2p of our profits from each bag sold to be donated to saving animals that are facing severe changes to their habitats as a result of climate change and global warming by 2019. We also want all our packaging to be completely biodegradable and to have zero landfill contribution by 2019-2020. Perhaps we will even create a book about Nanook’s big adventure! Exciting things are on the way for Peakz and we cannot wait to share our journey.

Peakz are destined for greatness, and are already smashing it! If you can’t wait to try their delicious treats you can get them here.