Investors select snack firm for healthy growth

A vending machine company that offers healthy snacks has secured £100k worth of investment to create jobs and launch its own branded product.

Healthy Nibbles, which has accessed support from Business Gateway Midlothian, received the funding from seven private investors.

The snack firm, which was named Scottish #WomensAwards, Business of the Year (less than 50 staff) 2017, will use the finance to introduce its own raw chocolate trail mix to its vending machines and corporate boxes and take on a modern apprentice and business development expert.

The company, which moved into a 3000sqft unit in the IMEX Business Centre in Loanhead earlier this year, has also added 3Mobile to its list of corporate clients, providing the mobile phone giant’s 300 shops and head office with monthly snack boxes.

Founder Sara Roberts, who launched the business in 2014 after becoming frustrated with the lack of healthy snack options for people on the go, is now looking to break into the hospitality sector by providing healthy snacks for minibars.

She said: “For the past few years we have concentrated on fact-finding to ensure our business model is as robust as possible. That research plus our move to new premises and our growing client list, which includes the BBC, Stena and Aon Hewitt, has increased investor confidence. With the new finance in place, we will be able to launch our first own-brand trail mix, which uses unrefined vegan raw chocolate, and take on staff who will help increase awareness of the business as we push to scale up operations.

“Setting up a business can be isolating, but Scotland is the best-supported ecosystem for start-ups in the UK. When I first worked with my Business Gateway adviser he connected me with other organisations that have helped me drive the business forward. From the strategy workshop he set up to help me protect my Intellectual Property, the advice given has saved me time and money. Now that I am looking to develop more environmentally friendly ways to dispose of our waste, my adviser’s contacts will help me reach that goal. The level of support I’ve had through Business Gateway couldn’t be found anywhere else.”

When I first worked with my Business Gateway adviser he connected me with other organisations that have helped me drive the business forward.

Jim Hiddleston, Adviser, Business Gateway said: “Spotting a gap in the market to provide healthy snacks to businesses has helped Sara tap into a new market, providing people with an easy and trustworthy way to make healthy choices at work. Our help has not only given her peace of mind it has increased her confidence and focus. With interest in the company growing from overseas, and with Sara in very early discussions regarding an opportunity in New York City, we will continue to help her access the support she needs to take advantage of future opportunities to grow her venture.”

The company, which started out with just three vending machines three years ago will have 90 placed in business premises throughout the UK by the end of the year. The 100% cashless machines use infrared to ensure guaranteed product delivery and provide full nutritional and allergen information at a touch of a button.

With over 250 different product lines to choose from, Healthy Nibbles works with each of its corporate clients to ensure the 50 featured in their machines are tailored to staff needs.

A minimum 50% of products in each vending machine are artisan, and Sara is now working to introduce provenance to the vending channels, with the ultimate aim of having at least 20% of the products sold in a certain location made within that region.

She said: “What we are doing is turning a sedate and dated industry into a modern and exciting one that offers corporates a tangible and practical way to support their staff’s wellbeing. People have questioned whether there is still a market for vending in this day and age. Our answer is yes, but the industry needs to have a facelift and that’s what we are doing.”

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