3 March 2021|Business Growth, Investing, Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder
by Hannah Carter. It was in 2018 when I finally made the switch from being vegetarian to vegan; I realised that dairy is also a huge contributor to both negative environmental impact and animal welfare, and my journey began. Specifically, it was a moment in a coffee shop pondering my new life without blueberry muffins that sparked the idea for OGGS®. This might seem like a strange reason to start a business, but at the time you couldn’t buy vegan cakes or muffins. So, there’s me pouring over recipe books and plant-based forums, working out that margarine could replace butter, milk can be swapped for an oat-based alternative, but eggs presented the biggest challenge.
After a lot of research, I came across a substance called aquafaba (chickpea water), which can be whipped and used in cooking and baking, just like an egg. It seemed to be the perfect solution, but the results were a bit hit and miss. Now, I’m no expert baker so I thought it might just be me, and I consulted my new plant-based community but came up with the same results. It was inconsistent. Being from a pharmaceutical background I was fascinated by the science. How can the water in a tin of chickpeas behave like egg in the first place and why does it only work sometimes?
I realised that if I could create a consistently performing aquafaba, this product had the capacity to replace tonnes of eggs already baked into cakes and brownies, breads and brioches all across the world, and removing what we call the “hidden animals” in the food chain would not only fundamentally impact the production of 1.4 billion tonnes of CO2 created each year by the egg industry1,2but also animal welfare.
There are so many hidden animal products in processed foods, from salad dressings to biscuits and even alcohol, and removing them is the main driving force of the business.
Two years later, with my co-founder Polly Mason, we had the results of research conducted by the food science departments of two major universities. We now had the optimum formula for perfectly consistent OGGS® Egg Alternative Aquafaba and it was five times less CO2 than traditional eggs. During this development phase, we secured £1.3 million in investment. The first versions of the consistent aquafaba worked well in baking so we knew this could be a success and decided to launch a cake range whilst still developing a more optimised Aquafaba for other uses. At this time, there wasn’t a single vegan cake in any UK supermarket and the appetite for the cakes was quite overwhelming, to be honest, two out of the three top supermarkets listed OGGS® within seven months of launching.
Everyone asks me how we achieved this and I truly believe that it comes down to being purpose-driven whilst also having a robust commercial proposition. The egg replacement market was barely touched and there were little if any plant-based bakery products in the market. Our mission became very clear. To give our customers affordable plant-based alternatives to everyday foods, that taste as delicious as you’ve always known them, while positively changing the future of the animals, planet, and people with every, little, bite.
In the first nine months, we turned over £1m in revenue and were already able to see the impact we were having on the things that truly mattered to us; carbon reduction, eggs saved, chicken holidays, water waste, recycling. Since we launched, OGGS® has saved 173 tons of CO2 through replacing eggs, which is the equivalent of driving around the world 35 times. We’ve given 87,717 chickens the week off, saved 506,056 eggs from commercial use, and planted 2,500 trees to offset our manufacturing carbon footprint.
It might seem like a funny thing to measure your business against, but when you focus on your mission, the profits will follow. For many organisations, they would think I’m a disaster as I don’t know exactly what our January sales target is, but I do know how much CO2 we’ve saved! If we aren’t saving CO2, we aren’t making a profit.
From a business perspective, Pols and I couldn’t quite believe that we were awarded “Start-up Entrepreneur of the Year,” but we were delighted for one main reason – we got noticed. Getting noticed gives us a chance to be heard. People listening is an opportunity for change.
Sustainable business IS the future of business, regardless of your ethical standpoint. Sustainable businesses are good for business from the analysts’ perspective; it enables price increase, market expansion, new business modelling, and brand protection to name but a few benefits; a devastated world is bad for business. Regardless of your views, sustainable business models will grow businesses and create longer-term value.
We are seeing the next generation actively looking at the impact of their food choices, choosing to follow a flexitarian diet for part of their week, and seeking out brands with the best environmental credentials. If established family favourites like Mr. Kipling don’t address their sustainability, they will not be the family favourites in the family households of 2030s when the teenagers of today are the parents of tomorrow.
It is this very clear point that is the foundation of the next five years. How can we work with major food companies to increase their shareholder value by providing them with a more sustainable egg alternative that will enable them to continue to be a household brand?
In 2021, we will launch our manufacturing sizes. We are looking to work with market-leading bakery brands to switch out the egg in their products, and every Egg for an OGGS® switch offers a 5 x CO2 reduction.
When people ask for advice on how to be successful, my advice is simple. Do not compromise on your values, take the time to step back and build a business that people and the world needs, not one that you want. Build a good team around you and look at the impact that every aspect of your business has on the planet, animals, and humans.
About the Author- Hannah Carter
After 12 years working in the pharmaceutical industry and heading up her own Strategy Consultancy, Hannah Carter spotted a gap in the market for an egg alternative product. Having discovered aquafaba could be used in baking but finding it could be a little hit and miss, she began working with the food science departments at two universities to find the optimum formula for aquafaba to work consistently every time. While this research was undertaken, Hannah launched the OGGS® cake range into major supermarkets and generated nearly £1.5million in investment in her company. In 2020 they had a breakthrough for aquafaba and OGGS® patented the formula for the UK’s first liquid egg alternative, OGGS® Egg Alternative Aquafaba is now available in major supermarkets and online outlets.