Swati Kanoi is co-founder of WALLAROO, a food company dedicated to challenging our idea of clean snacking. WALLAROO’s single ingredient products are made from some of the finest quality produce, and their packaging turns to compost, with no plastic waste. Swati is also an editor for the Children’s Food Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to discussing issues relating to junk food and child obesity. Swati has a DPhil in Experimental Psychology from Oxford.
As a parent, I often struggled to find food options that appealed to my daughter. I had some control over what was cooked at home, but it was difficult to keep up with the ever frequent ‘mummy can I have a snack’ requests that were really just code for ‘I want something that comes in a shiny packet!’ I realised that I wasn’t alone in my quest to find food that came in a packet, was tasty and appealing to growing children yet also nutritious and safe. A snack that I could let my child enjoy guilt free. When I couldn’t find what I was looking for, I decided to embark on the Wallaroo Trail.
I think being able to find solutions to a problem and to consistently work against strong odds might sum it up for me.
We did the research and built a plan. We knew that if the numbers made even the least bit of sense, we’d then have to look to develop the product given that food really engages all of one’s senses and the real test would lie in consumer tastings.
Passion – because you will be challenged on your idea at every step
Perseverance – because you’ll find yourself up against odds more often that you’d like
Pragmatism – because you’ll discover that reality often differs from plan
It is an absolute joy to see people pick up our products and appreciate how great it tastes or how the packaging looks or how they identify with our ethos. There is so much satisfaction in seeing something that you’ve created come to life and become a part of people’s lives.
For me, both as a urban consumer and in the organised food business, I find Wholefoods very inspiring. It feels like a celebration of all things food and I could easily spend my entire day in any of their stores.
If given the chance it will be great to understand the inner workings and decisions involved in running a pioneering retail food business.
Among the many mistakes that I’ve made, I think the ones that come to mind right away are:
Things always take longer than planned – be prepared, and
It is not possible to do everything all the time – so prioritise.
We’ve used our own savings along with some help from family and friends. We’re now looking to reach out for investment in order to scale.
In the five months since launch, we’ve been shortlisted for a number of industry packaging awards on account of our category defining accredited home compostable packaging. These include the UK Packaging Awards, the Solutions Awards and the Flexotech awards.
There are plenty of good things about being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire. You are surrounded by lots of passionate and smart people who are looking to make a difference and are eager to help. The University is a great source of information and you can always be sure to find events by well known speakers to help keep you motivated when you encounter the occasional slump.
Oxford Entrepreneurs is probably the first place to start as it brings together all the resources that one might need and provides a useful map of all things entrepreneurial in Oxfordshire.
It really is a roller coaster – for all the lows, there will also be the highs that make it worthwhile.