ophia Procter was communications manager at British Airways for just about a ten years, managing the airline’s customer PR which includes get the job done on the London 2012 Olympic Game titles. Soon following the now-43-calendar year-old returned from maternity depart in 2017, a corporate reshuffle saw Procter confront redundancy. Possessing just invented a kids’ plate with a play track all-around the edge to entice her fussy son to eat a lot more, she resolved to use her redundancy offer from BA to commence a enterprise of her individual.
“I arrived up with the notion for Munchy Engage in after a extensive working day at work. I had just picked my son up from nursery, and experienced ‘mum guilt’ for not paying time with him, so tried using to make it up by cooking a nourishing food. Apart from, like several 18-thirty day period-olds, he experienced shed all curiosity in mealtimes. This distinct day I’d built him a curry from scratch, but he refused to arrive to the table. I realised he was obtaining too significantly entertaining with his toys and the meal table was boring. So, I grabbed the trains and track he was taking part in with, and place it all around his plate. In that instant every thing transformed. He not only came to the table, but sat there and ate. That was my lightbulb second.
“When I took redundancy in 2017, I went straight into building Munchy Perform, even though freelancing to support fund it. When I seemed at what was involved in launching a new products — from intellectual home rights, to getting steel machinery — I realised it was a sizeable sum. I invested all of my redundancy and some of my particular financial savings to get it off the ground — about £50,000.
“Having a great thought is one detail, and bringing it to life is really yet another. The 1st factor I did was thanks diligence — a lot and a lot of study checking the notion did not exist, in advance of safeguarding it with style legal rights and intellectual assets. Future, I approached trade bodies to find a British maker: even if it expense much more, I considered that mother and father rely on British goods, I would not have the fear of offer chain issues, and I was keen to commit in our economy.
“Once I identified the right company, they told me I’d need to have CAD models from which the metal equipment would be made, so I established a prototype and took it to the streets of London, thrusting it into parents’ palms for opinions! Naively, I imagined I’d have it carried out in considerably less than a yr. But as I was making a blueprint from scratch, there was a large amount of back and forth, testing and failure. It took a few a long time to make it transpire. Alongside the way although, l was spurred on by some wonderful persons. I been given mentorship from Innovate United kingdom and the ‘Inventor in Residence’ at the British Library.
“I was eventually ready to launch — with a number of thousand plates all set to ship — in March 2020. Perfectly, we all know what occurred subsequent. I had no option but to press pause on the start. I ongoing freelancing, assisting compact organizations with disaster PR. Then, about May possibly, I realised that there was an opportunity here. Mom and dad like me had been trapped at residence, exhausted from house education and childcare, searching for any sort of gentle relief – primarily if it could be shipped to their doorway. So I decided to overhaul the business plan to concentrate on promoting on the internet, and introduced Munchy Engage in in June 2020.
“Launching in the center of a world pandemic was unquestionably not uncomplicated – but I took full benefit of all the help out there. Amazon and Company Nation had released programmes to assistance start out-ups, which I joined. This obtained me on BBC Breakfast news! Joe Wicks’ place of work made use of to be close to mine, so I dropped off some plates for his young children, and a number of months later on he applied them on his Instagram account.
“When we received ‘Small Small business Sunday’ an initiative hosted by [entrepreneur] Theo Paphitis to support little companies, our social media went into overdrive and it gave us believability as well. Six months right after launching, I approached Mattel as a licence spouse, and we’ve been performing collectively ever given that. Launching the Thomas & Friends™ collection very last 12 months was a important instant.
“We’ve now marketed 10,000 plates. The following milestone is receiving into Significant Avenue retail. Shoppers retain asking us when we will be in John Lewis, Smyths Toys, Argos, Hamleys, Ocado and even on QVC. I would truly adore to see that happen. We’re launching a new motor vehicle plate array and expanding into world wide markets — primarily United states — is a thing I’d like to glimpse at as our business grows, maybe with the guidance of investors in the upcoming.
“Taking redundancy was a tricky alternative, even so it was the appropriate one particular. It enabled me to launch an award-profitable product and gave me the flexibility to get the job done flexibly, one thing I’m grateful for as a mom.”