JP talks about his jump into venture building
WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT ROLE AT ALLPLANTS AND WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE?
I am the founder and CEO of allplants – and having started cooking up remixes of my favourite dishes in my home kitchen ~4 years ago, now we’re a team of 90+ serving over 20,000 meals a week. I absolutely love bringing together brilliant people on a mission to fix a socially intractable problem, and designing a product and experience for millions of customers to love – previously launching Africa’s first mobile bank (M-Shwari – now used across sub-Saharan Africa), and more recently East Africa’s fastest-growing retail healthcare chain (Penda Health).
Before jumping into the world of venture building I started life as a business analyst at McKinsey in London, a great opportunity to cram 5 years of learning into 2, and mainly to realise that I am built to do (I struggle just stopping at advice!).
WHAT DOES ALLPLANTS DO AND HOW HAS THE COMPANY GROWN?
We make plant-based living exciting and easy, delivering delightful, healthier food from our kitchen to your doorstep.
We use bold flavours and hyper convenience to bring more plants onto plates across the UK, inspiring us all to eat healthy and nourish the planet.
As climate awareness grows exponentially – and the health & wellness industry continues to rise – #vegan has become the largest social movement on Instagram of all time. The science is irrefutable. Eating more plants is the #1 way to help yourself and our planet thrive.
That’s why, at allplants we’ve started with food: delicious, simple, made from plants. Over 65% of the UK are now flexitarian, and plant curious people already spend +£100bn on prepared food globally, growing +20% pa. This new, plant-forward category is ready for leadership.
We’ve grown (sometimes excruciatingly!) fast in our first 3 years. Now, we have served +1 million meal-times from our kitchen and digital platform to households nationwide – winning awards for culinary excellence (incl. four Great Taste Golds!) and earning consistent 5* customer ratings. All our food is created in small batches, by our in-house chefs enabling rapid innovation, margin control and full-stack sustainability (carbon-neutral deliveries, eco-forward packaging and passion in every meal).
In 2020 we are poised for accelerated growth, rapidly shifting gears to deepen market dominance in the UK, primarily via eCommerce and subscription – while preparing for international. To enable this, we have launched Europe’s largest dedicated plant-based kitchen in North London, and also recently launched two whole new product categories – breakfast, desserts – with more to come.
We’re already supported by leading venture capital funds (Octopus Ventures and Felix Capital) and angels who’ve built an array of +£1B food, media and lifestyle brands. Our plans for the next 10 years and beyond are bold, delicious and daring, with all energy focussed towards taking plant-based living mainstream.
WHY WAS ALLPLANTS BORN?
Around four and a half years ago, my brother Alex and I found ourselves tumbling down the rabbit-hole of discovery about the devastating impact of animal agriculture on the health of our planet – and having always thought of myself as an environmentalist I quite quickly realised I’d have to give this “eating plants” thing a go.
Despite initially imagining a plate of limp lifeless steamed veg, discovering how to eat plant-based became a wonderful adventure, Experimenting in the kitchen or hunting down the lastest vegan pop-up or food truck to taste a pulled jackfruit burrito – but as soon I got busy I couldn’t believe how uselessly lacking the options were, I’d find myself eating carrots and hummus every evening. And that’s not fun for anybody.
Coming from a big Cypriot family, mealtimes have always been an occasion filled with pleasure and so this idea of compromise didn’t sit well. And it seemed like a huge opportunity to be able to help people like us and beyond, by eliminating sacrifice and in fact, turning plant-based living into a celebration of flavour.
What Alex and I quickly realised was that every one of the choices we all make every day, shapes, creates and can change the world we live in. But – despite our best intentions – it’s not always easy to make the right decisions if you’re not provided with great options. I was convinced that tidal wave of awareness and “plant curiosity” was coming, but if we didn’t serve it with excitingly delicious and easy ways to enjoy eating more plants then it wouldn’t amount to the shift away from animal agriculture our planet needs.
So we committed to our mission: inspire people to eat more plants. And we do this with the food we make, using state-of-the-art tech innovation, creative storytelling, and a close-knit community of tasters in home kitchens across the UK.
WHAT DOES THE TEAM LOOK LIKE?
To achieve our growth ambition of inspiring the next billion plant-powered people we are expanding our teams at pace, whilst also putting in place the foundations of a mission-driven high-performance culture.
I feel incredibly lucky to work every day alongside the most talented and driven people I’ve ever been able to call colleagues. Whether it’s across our kitchen and operations, customer delight, insights and strategy, finance and BI, product and engineering, growth and marketing, brand and creative or food innovation – our teams are led and driven by truly outstanding players pushing the boundaries of what’s possible to help us grow our movement fast.
WHAT VALUES DOES YOUR TEAM LIVE BY?
Understandably, we get asked a lot if you need to be vegan to work here. And the answer is no! Everyone is welcome at our table and in our team, whether you’re a lifelong vegan, or are a plant-curious omnivore. But what does matter is that we are all personally driven by our planet positive mission to inspire people to add more plants to their plates. Because this lives through everything we do.
And we have three other key values we all live by at allplants:
- All the senses: we know that eating well shouldn’t get in the way of living well. Food should be a fiesta not a fast, and this resonates through all we cook up in the kitchen, every shoot in the studio, every UX decision in our webshop, and everything in between.
- All welcome: this is about more than simply opening up plant-based for normal British households who just fancy eating a little healthier a few nights a week. It’s about making every moment sublimely easy, from what we design being easy to use, and anything we cook being easy to love.
- All in: we believe if we all work together, we can change the world. And to do that we need to push boundaries, think differently and be willing to change the game.
WHAT KIND OF PERSON WOULD ALLPLANTS SUIT?
There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach at allplants when it comes to finding the right fit. We’re proud to have people in our kitchen and office from all corners of the globe, from many professional backgrounds who bring an optimistic attitude, a thirst for personal growth and an ambitiously competitive streak to the table.
As we’re such a tight-knit team (even as we’re growing) we’re always on the lookout for collaborative team-players who are happy to roll up their sleeves and get involved with everything. As well as being part and parcel of plucky start-up life, we really value everyone’s ideas, so we champion brave openness as the rock-bed of working well together.
It’s also really important to us that we recruit compassionate, conscious and caring people. So you can expect high EQ teams who know how to get the best out of each other when striving to smash our goals.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR ALLPLANTS?
This January it’s our 3 year birthday and although we’re about to cook our millionth meal, we really do feel like we’re just getting started. Changing the way the world eats is a massive mission and we have mountains of innovation, growth and platefuls of delicious plant-based food to make happen.
If you’re a foodie and moving our planet towards plants is already a personal mission you believe in – keep your eyes peeled for the right opportunity on Movemeon.com.