Ilana is the co-founder of Snact – selling deliciously sustainable snacks from otherwise wasted food. They began by collecting and dehydrating surplus fruit from London’s wholesale markets, making snacks by hand in a kitchen in Hackney, then selling them at markets and events across London. They are now stocked in national retailers, pick one up from Selfridges or in your Ocado shop! Snact is drawing attention to huge waste in the food industry and aims to play a part in radically transforming the global food system.
Thank you for speaking with us! Tell us about journey to founding Snact- is it an ambition you always held?
Mike (Snact’s other co-founder) and I both did an MSc in Environmental Technology at Imperial College specialising in Business & Sustainability – it was at one of those alumni dinners that we decided we wanted to start a business together. We both realised we were passionate about food, the food system and food sustainability. And so we decided we wanted to do something to contribute to improving our food system – food waste seemed like an immediate issue we could tackle, and one that made no sense at all (that’s still the case). So we quit our jobs, and set off on our mission to create a better greener and fairer food system!
We love your ethos. What are the greatest challenges and opportunities of building a sustainable brand?
It’s been challenging starting a food business not knowing anything about running a food business… a steep learning curve. I think starting a business in itself is difficult regardless of what industry you’re doing. Building a sustainable brand can make it a bit trickier as you’re trying to do things differently – for instance with us introducing a home compostable packaging. But there are opportunities too, like reaching out to customers and businesses that have similar values to ours and building genuine strong relationships.
Congratulations on becoming a London Leader in sustainability, can you tell us about this?
The London Leader programme identifies and nurtures some of London’s most exciting and innovative new leaders in sustainable business and communities – supporting them to demonstrate sustainability in action and the contribution of green entrepreneurs to the London economy and the city’s quality of life. It was a fun programme to be part of and I got to witness some of the other great initiatives that are taking placing in London and making it a more sustainable city!
Have you had guidance from mentors or wider networks along the way? If so how have you found these people and how have you used them?
We’ve had plenty of help and guidance from different people along the way – I think it’s instrumental to any start-up business. We found these people through different ways – some through programmes like the London Leaders, some through investment, some just by reaching out to people who we thought would be interesting to speak to and we developed a relationship.
What would be your advice for a woman with ambitions to start a sustainable business?
Just do it. There’s no time like the present and the only thing stopping you from starting is not starting. It’s hard but it’s immensely satisfying and you won’t regret it. On a more practical level – I’d advise starting on a part-time basis or evenings/weekends so you can manage risks that way. We started Snact part-time and kept it that way for over a year, it made sure we knew what we were doing and were able to put together the resources needed for when we did what to go full time.
Have you had any memorable times of failure or disappointment?
There have been lots of disappointments and hurdles along the way.There are so many things that go wrong when you’re starting a business and figuring out how to do things, it’s almost a weekly expectation! You just get used to it, keep calm and carry on.
What are your future ambitions, for yourself and Snact, 2017 and beyond?
Keep doing what we’re doing! We’re launching new product ranges and, with that, increasing the impact we have on tackling food waste and packaging waste. We’ll keep growing our distribution and hope that Snact becomes a household name in the UK. Ultimately, as long as Snact can keep being a vehicle for driving environmental and social change, we’ll be happy!
Who would you like to send a thank you bunch to any why?
I would like to send a thank you bunch to everyone on the Snact team: Mike, Ashley, Noora, Marta and Bethan for making Snact the best company to work for and putting a lot of hard work into fighting the food waste fight!
Snact are crowdfunding for the launch of their awesome food waste-fighting banana bars. There are plenty of great rewards for investing your pennies, including the bars themselves – only one week left to get involved with the #deliciousprotest: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/deliciousprotest). Follow Snact’s journey on twitter, instagram and facebook.
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