26 April 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder
Tom Walker and Gaz Booth founded Holy Moly Dips – the FIRST 100% pure avocado-based dips and guacamole – from kitchen start-up, to national brand, listed in the UK’s top major retailers. Holy Moly tastes just like ‘home-made’ dip – with no preservatives – only whole ingredients. The range is Vegan, Kosher and free from dairy and gluten.
We are Tom and Gaz. Two ordinary blokes in their mid-thirties – and best mates – who grew up together in Sheffield.
We both come from fairly working-class backgrounds. Gaz grew up on a notorious Sheffield council estate with his dad and two sisters. Gaz was determined to follow a different path and chose to attend a school on the other side of Sheffield – where he met Tom and went on to become the first member of his family to get A Levels and a university degree.
The guys have been side-by-side ever since, both studying Business Management at Aston University and working their way up the corporate ladder.
Gaz said: “Our long-term friendship has provided a strong foundation for our business partnership.
Despite the usual ups and downs our friendship has kept us balanced and on track.
“With Holy Moly, we are both driven by the desire to challenge a stagnant category within the fresh food market. We want to provide consumers, just like us, with a better option to the ‘over-manufactured’ options that are currently on the market”.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
The Holy Moly ‘Eureka’ moment came after a mild ‘disagreement’ over the role coriander plays in a fresh Guacamole dip. Tom had whipped up a fresh guacamole for a Mexican evening they were enjoying together with their other halves. It didn’t contain coriander. Gaz (strongly!) felt coriander was an integral part of any good guac, Tom begged to differ… “We soon got onto a discussion around why we always have to make homemade dips, as supermarket options never taste the same,” said Gaz.
“They’re over-processed, often contain dairy, gluten and preservatives – surely we could make a better kind of dip!? And so, the journey began to create a guacamole dip that tasted like homemade.
“After researching the market and various manufacturing options (with no prior experience) we landed on a NEW way of making an all-natural dip without the need for any preservatives – just like you’d make at home. We were the first UK-brand to use an innovative ‘high pressure cold press’ technology for dips to achieve this”.
How did you achieve awareness?
“Social Media and PR has been a big driver and the support from our retail partners. We gained national press coverage in major titles from The Independent, Mirror, and Metro – to Cosmopolitan and Women’s Health. We received fantastic social media feedback, from key influencers such as Joe Wicks ‘Body Coach’. And quickly became the best rated guacamole dip on Ocado”.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
“As a start-up challenger in a Private Label dominated category, it wasn’t an easy pitch for our first investment … however our passion, belief and our strong concept helped us raise £150,000 in seed investment through friends, family, and an angel investor. We then went on to secure major listings at Waitrose, Ocado, Wholefoods, and Amazon Fresh.
“New Product Development has also been key to our growth. We launched two new products in Ocado and Waitrose; a ‘Three Chilli’ extra hot guacamole, and a new ‘breakfast avocado’ spread – taking the ‘faff’ out of Avocado on Toast.
“We’ve completed a 2nd round of fundraising – for £250,000 – to help capitalise on our momentum. This has enabled us to leave our day-jobs, hire three staff to support the business’ growth, and move into our very own office & warehouse in Milton Keynes. We’re very excited to be undergoing our third round of investment which when secured, we’ll be able to share more on that soon”.
What are the key successes?
Bringing two all-natural guacamole dips, and the UK’s FIRST 100% pure ‘smashed avocado’ to market.
During the course of our first year we continued to grow our product distribution within our existing retailers. Our Waitrose store numbers have tripled since launch, and sales in Ocado have increased by 100% YoY.
Our second year of trading had seen us gain a listing in Sainsbury’s, as well as launch food service offerings aboard EasyJet flights, LNER trains and in Nando’s.
The amazing coverage we’ve had in the press and the feedback we get from our consumers.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
“Challenging ‘norms’. We’ve had to smash down a number of pre-existing ideas to get Holy Moly to where it is today. For example, we were told that the fixture was an ‘own label’ area and that branded dips wouldn’t work. We were told it was impossible to make 100% natural products and that we needed to use preservatives in our products etc etc etc. In many ways our naivety at the start helped – we could question pre-existing ways of doing things and ’traditional’ ideas about how and what dips had to be. Coming from non-food backgrounds allowed us to bring best practice from other industries and challenge these ’norms’.
“Most importantly we established the ’new normal’ and stuck to it, creating our Holy Commandments- making plant-based products that are 100% natural, clean, free from and taste amazing – these are the principles that shape our way of doing business and are the heart and soul of the products we produce”.
What are your plans now/for the future?
“From a business perspective we are only just beginning, we have big ambitions and will continue to build Holy Moly into a famous brand that our customers can trust. Have products and services where our customers know immediately what we stand for and are bought into our vision for what purer, tastier, holier food can be.
“Personally, watching my two kids grow and flourish into proper good little people is going to be incredibly rewarding”.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
“The most encouraging thing is there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ entrepreneur. The one theme that runs through all the entrepreneurs that I have met is a desire to do something better, to push forward. I think the best companies regardless of size are those that truly understand and connect with their customers and understand the improvements to their customers’ lives their products deliver.
It means anyone can do it’.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
- Fail fast and fail cheap. Not everything will work. The key is to not sink too much time, effort and money into something that is never going to get where you want it to. Take the lesson and move on.
- Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good – we all strive for perfection, but realistically it’s often unattainable. It’s better to get good products to market consistency, quickly and efficiently than striving for perfection.
- There will be highs and lows – know how you manage them – it’s an absolute rollercoaster journey. Understand how you cope and manage both the highs and lows. What are your mechanisms to deal with stress? Use them. Reach out to others – join the entrepreneur community as we’re all been there.
- Build a solid foundation – get the basic mechanics of your business right from the beginning. Can you make enough money? Are your operations consistent and scalable? Do you have the right legal protection? How do you stay on top of your numbers? What protection is in place to manage risk etc? Get the basic building blocks in place and right up-front.
- Have fun – changing the world should be joyous.
- Build a team that’s better than you are – surround yourself with experts.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most?
James Watt @brewdogjames /Martin Dickie from @brewdogofficial – they didn’t just change the beer aisle, they are going about changing the world around them. You can’t help but admire their commitment to their principles. In many ways they’re the classic modern entrepreneurs. Started on a market stall, made some mistakes, developed phenomenal products and a cult following and are now tackling the big issues facing humanity – THAT is vision.
Tyson Fury @gypsyking101 – combined every bit of his natural ability with hard work and graft and turned himself into the best heavyweight in the world. He’s not perfect (far from it) but has fought his own demons and is an inspiration to anyone who knows the dark places of the world. What a story.
Alan/Julie Barratt @grenadeofficial – imagine creating a brand as well known and as well-loved as Grenade! Then imagine, despite your astronomical success, that you’re still the same down to earth Brummie couple who started it from nothing. These two prove that you can make a huge dent in the world by being yourself – and not compromising on those principles and experiences that shaped who you are. Love that about them.
Angus Young – because someone who can take about 4 chords and turn it into 200m record sales worldwide deserves some absolute respect! Rock on!
What is your favourite inspirational /motivational quote?
Shit happens. Because it’s true and it does.
What are your social handles and website links so our readers can connect with you?