Rimi Thapar, founder of Love Raw, shares her entrepreneurship story and the inspiration and success of her brand.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
In 2010, I decided to leave my career in investment banking to join my husband and Co-Founder, Manav, in Spain who was running his own distribution business. Whilst I was over there, I unexpectedly lost my father to a brain haemorrhage and this made me re-evaluate again what was truly important, with health and wellbeing now being a top priority.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
When searching for healthier food options, I quickly realised that there was a real lack of healthy, premium great tasting snacks. After receiving incredible feedback from making samples for family and friends, I decided to roll the product across to consumers which originally consisted of healthy bars, booster blends and almond drinks.
How did you achieve awareness?
It all initially started with reverse engineering the initial sales process with my heart set on listing a LoveRaw product with Whole Foods, so I made some sample bars and jumped on a train to London to their head offices.
On arrival, I had to bypass both the Security Desk and Receptionist, pretending that I had a meeting with the buying team, when in fact I didn’t. Once located, the buyer hesitantly took the samples and advised he would share them with the team and let me know if the LoveRaw range was of interest to the retailer.
Two weeks later, I received an order for 500 cases (6000 units) and the journey has just kept growing since then with more and more retailers coming on board, investing in our social and influencer marketing and PR strategy.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
In 2017, I went onto Dragons’ Den to try and raise some funding and gain more exposure for the brand, however I rejected a £50,000 investment from serial entrepreneur Deborah Meaden due to not wanting to give up such a huge part of the business to an investor. We went on to raise a small funding round with angel investors at a far higher valuation.
In building both profit and sales to a stronger position, we approached Venture Capitalist, Blue Horizon Ventures, for investment in early 2019, inspired by the Venture Capitalist’s vision to create the largest ecosystem for tastier, healthier and sustainable food across the globe and we managed to gain a large investment deal which has really catapulted the brand and moved it forwards.
What are the key successes?
LoveRaw is now the UK’s fastest selling Vegan Chocolate Brand, and every 10 seconds a product is sold! You can purchase LoveRaw from Asda, Waitrose, Boots, Holland & Barrett, and more! We grew the business by 279% in 2021 and our team also grew from 11 to 18 over 2021. We have also won various awards over the past few years, such as multiple Great Taste Awards and the Great British Entrepreneur in 2020.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
Originally, we launched three different products in three different categories. This was too much, and meant we struggled to find our real identity and stand out as a brand. Once we found the thing that we know and are good at, making great tasting chocolate that just so happens to be vegan, we have experienced immense growth and interest from consumers and are enjoying taking things to the next level.
What are your plans now/for the future?
The Chocolate Confectionery market is expected to grow up to £5.9 billion by 2023 so this is a huge opportunity for us. Consumers are looking for more plant-based alternatives, and this number is increasing each year.
Various categories within food and drink have been disrupted, for example plant-based drinks, plant based meat. The chocolate industry is still dominated by heritage corporate chocolate brands – Big Choc. We have created a new category within chocolate. We’re not part of healthy snacking as such, with healthy snacking taste is compromised. We’re a great tasting indulgent vegan chocolate brand that happens to be vegan. Taste is always first.
We are knocking out more exciting NPD, our trait is to create a heritage chocolate favourite in a vegan style. We’ve had feedback as to say we taste better than original versions. For accessibility, we are retailed in various channels, convenience, independents, online, DTC, grocery and our aim is to increase our distribution within these channels. As well as food service when things start progressing again. We want to maintain year on year growth and would love to see our own baby with all of our LoveRaw products.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
I think not to be fearful and to take a risk, what’s the worst that can happen. You try, you fail, you learn and you start again.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
- Just start it, stop thinking and researching and just start it. Sometimes you can overthink and talk yourself out of things so just go for it.
- Invest in a good financial director or management accountant. In the early days you can employ someone as a consultant or part time basis. But basically, validate your strategy financially. This will help you forecast when you will need funding, margins, profitability etc.
- Enjoy the journey, goals and strategies are important but be present and celebrate your achievements.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
- My mum – she’s the hardest worker, strongest and resilient person I know.
- My children – they have changed me and teach me something new everyday.
- My husband – He encouraged me to be the entrepreneur I am today.
- Sara Blakely – She has built an empire whilst growing a family and retaining integrity.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
“Remember that you are always exactly where you need to be, experiencing what you need to experience so that you can learn what you must learn in order to become the person you need to be to create everything you want for your life…always” – Hal Elord
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
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