Pip Murray, 33, is the Founder of Pip & Nut, an award-winning food brand that launched to market in January 2015. Over the last six years, she’s been shaking up the healthy food and drink sector with her range of all-natural nut butters, and recently launched nut butter cups. Pip & Nut is the fastest growing nut butter brand in the UK and a proud certified B Corporation. (The rest in 1st person please):
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I started Pip & Nut in my early twenties. Up until that point I’d had very little exposure to the business world and had no experience whatsoever in the food & drink sector. Upon finishing university, and a degree in Anthropology & Geography at the University College London which I loved, I pursued a career in the arts and cultural sector.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
The idea behind Pip & Nut came from a number of different avenues. From an early age I was given the freedom to cook and, overtime, became incredibly confident and happiest when in the kitchen. Fast forward a few more years, and living in the melting pot of London, the burgeoning food scene that erupted around 10 years ago was such an inspiration.
In 2012, about the same time that I started to look at the food industry as a potential career path, I was training for the Paris marathon. Peanut butter was my go-to pre and post running choice, but as a consumer I’d noticed that nearly all the brands I picked up in store contained palm oil. It was then that I spotted a gap in the market to create a nut butter brand which innovated with new and exciting flavours, was both good for you and good for the planet (and fundamentally did not use palm oil), and appealed more directly to a younger consumer like me.
How did you achieve awareness?
In the early days our budgets were incredibly tight and we relied upon grassroots marketing and building our distribution to grow awareness. Being seen in all the ‘hip’ places in London from gyms, to delis and coffee shops, was a key part of building brand awareness and gaining our first 1000 fans. As our distribution initially grew in London, we also relied heavily on telling our story via PR and in-stores sampling. Ultimately, all of this boiled down to driving strong word of mouth commentary and advocacy, which is the most valuable and powerful form of marketing.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
Over the last 7 years I’ve raised £3.4m in investment through crowdfunding, angel investors and venture capital. At each stage of our brand I took enough capital to get us to the next key milestone and made sure to bring on key investors who can help us, as we scaled Pip & Nut throughout the UK.
What are the key successes?
There have been so many highlights throughout this journey, but some of our big achievements are our incredibly engaged social community. I’m also very proud of the way we do business. We’ve always been focused on doing the right thing by our consumers, customers and team, and in 2019 this was cemented when we qualified as a B Corporation. To be a B Corp you have to demonstrate and uphold the highest social and environmental standards.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
Growing and leading a team will always be one of the most challenging aspects of running a business, but it was especially difficult during COVID-19 where there was so much uncertainty and our normal ways of coming together as a team changed overnight. To retain our team culture in the virtual world, and ensure my team were supported during this period, we provided new ways to connect. For example, we invited guest speakers and delivered remote wellness and mental health weeks, where our team could participate in fun activities like yoga and meditation.
What are your plans now/for the future?
Right now the biggest focus across all aspects of the business is sustainability. From day one I set out to create a brand that challenged the status quo, now more than ever we need businesses to innovate in order to solve one of the biggest challenges we face as a global community: climate change. Whilst Pip & Nut isn’t the biggest brand we know we occupy a space where many businesses look to us for inspiration. This means we’re looking at how we can truly become a beacon brand for sustainability. As a result we’re working towards removing all plastic from our products, becoming net zero and ensuring we’re working with our nut growers to develop even more sustainable agricultural practices.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
I often say that I’m an ‘accidental entrepreneur’. I wasn’t someone who aspired to run a business and I’m a big believer that entrepreneurs can be made, it’s not something you have to be born with. Ultimately, if there’s a change in the world that you want to see and you’ve got enough determination and grit to be able to pursue it, there’s no reason why you can’t start your own business. The important word in that sentence though is start. This is often the hardest part, so I’d encourage anyone with an idea to think of a small step they can do to get it moving.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Never take no for an answer. In my mind a ‘no’ is just a stepping stone to a ‘yes’. I think one of your main jobs as a founder is to constantly look for ways to solve problems to get that ‘yes’, from raising investment to finding a product market fit.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
- Asma Khan. Asma’s the first UK chef to feature on Netflix’s ‘Chef’s Table’ and she runs a restaurant in Covent Garden called Darjeeling Express.
- David Hiett – David’s the founder of Hiut Denim and the Do Lectures. He’s a brilliant wordsmith and inspiration on how to create a purpose-led business.
- Ed Perry – COOK CEO – Cook was the first B Corporation in the UK, employing ex-offenders in their kitchens.
- Anita Roddick, Founder of the Body Shop
- Holly Tucker, Not on the High Street & Holly & Co founder.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
“There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.” – Brene Brown
“Make something people want.” – Y Combinator
“The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day when you figure out why” – Mark Twain
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
Facebook Pip & Nut
LinkedIn Pip & nut
LinkedIn Pip Murray