Raw chocolate brand, Raw Halo, raised just shy of £150,000 at the end of 2016 with the support of 248 investors. We caught up with founder Meg Hagar to see how the business has expanded, and her tops tips for scaling a start-up both in the UK and internationally.
For those who don’t know, can you tell us a bit about Raw Halo?
Our business, Raw Halo, produces a range of award winning raw chocolate bars. Our chocolate is free from dairy, gluten, and contains no refined sugar – we opt for a healthier coconut sugar to sweeten our products naturally. Our bars are available in range of 35g flavours, and new 70g sharing bars. The business launched nearly three years ago, when I saw a gap in the market for a premium raw chocolate brand. I began making the chocolate bars in my London flat, and quickly grew the business, with my partner Jonathan joining at the end of 2015. Raw Halo chocolate is now stocked in over 300 stockists and 20 countries worldwide.
It’s been nearly a year since you raised finance on Crowdcube, can you tell us how the business has progressed since then?
Since raising on Crowdcube in 2016, Raw Halo looks like a very different business. Our manufacturing is now outsourced, which has been the single biggest change to the way the business operates. No longer are we running our own chocolate factory – instead we have a production partner who we work closely with to produce our ever growing quantities of chocolate.
Around the same time as outsourcing our manufacturing, we also set-up with a fulfilment centre based in the UK. Due to our fast growing business, we needed to scale-up quickly, so this development has allowed us to do this. It’s amazing to think our first orders were small boxes, and now we’re shipping entire pallets around the world.
You have recently launched into Whole Foods market, Harrods and later this year Booths. Do you have any tips on attracting these kinds of large retailers?
We have been fortunate that we’ve been able to capture the attention of the right buyers at the right time. Our tip for launching into the bigger retailers is to firstly do your research and ensure your product is relevant, fits in well with their range, and is priced correctly. Secondly find the correct person who’s in charge of buying and present the information and samples to them. It’s common to not hear back from buyers at the larger chains, mainly as they’re so busy – so stay positive and persistent.
Your business is branching out both nationally and overseas, do you have any tips for scaling a start-up?
Expanding our business in the UK and overseas requires two very different approaches. We’ve exhibited our brand at major trade shows and events over the last few years, and that’s really helped secure listings with key retailers. Our UK business is very much driven by wholesalers, who are often the only route into certain stores. Finding good international distributors is crucial to the success of our export business, so we’ve spent time researching to find the right partners. Once you have found the right partner you need to ensure you have a solid contract in place, and then support them as if they are an extension of your own team.
Do you have any upcoming launches or any other exciting news to share?
It’s definitely a busy time at Raw Halo. We have just launched our new 70g sharing bars, which are already becoming very popular with many of our stockists. And although we call them sharing bars, there’s definitely no need to share them! Our new gift boxes are also launching, which include different messages for various occasions such as birthdays, Christmas, congratulations etc. We’ve found it’s often difficult finding chocolate gifts for free-from consumers, so we’re expecting them to be very successful, and have already received a lot of interest from large retailers and the press. We also have a new website launching soon, which provides a much better showcase of our beautiful bars, with some nice features such as a build-your-own gift box. In the meantime, we continue to work on new product launches for 2018 onwards, so stay tuned!
To follow Raw Halo's progress or get in touch with the team to find out more, you can check out the website here.