DTC brands have many options open to them when it comes to financing their business, but one of the most public routes is an appearance on BBC show Dragons’ Den. In this Q&A, we speak to Jack Walker (pictured below), co-founder of pet food brand Scrumbles, fresh off his visit to the Den, to talk about why he chose to face the Dragons, and how he hopes it will set the company up for the future.
Can you explain how Scrumbles has grown up until this point (pre-Dragons’ Den appearance)?
Scrumbles has just turned one year old, having begun trading in summer 2018. Up until now the business has been solely driven by just myself and my co-founder and wife Aneisha. Our first few months trading were modest to say the least but we built momentum acquiring customers one by one, many through face to face interactions. A strong social media community enabled us to expand our business and we’ve benefitted from word of mouth from our most loyal advocates. Working with Ocado was big step change for our business and has enabled us to reach thousands more customers who probably wouldn’t ever reach Scrumbles.
Why did you decide that now was the time to go into the Den?
Despite enjoying the show, we had never really considered going into the den ourselves. It wasn’t until we received an email from a BBC producer inviting us to apply that we gave it a first thought. It all happened in the blink of an eye, we were currently raising money and we are always trying to grow brand awareness so we quickly decided to see where the opportunity might lead. We were invited to an interview the following week and before we knew it had been asked to apply.
Why did you choose Dragons’ Den over other available funding methods (VCs, angel investors etc.)?
To date we’ve raised £250k from a network of angel investors, plus support from a couple of friends and family. The opportunity to enter the den arrived in the middle of an investment round so we felt that it could play a part of the mix at that stage. Undeniably the opportunity to have the input of one of the Dragons who have a track record in our category carried as much appeal as the investment itself, as did the chance to put Scrumbles in front of 3m pairs of eyes.
Why did you guys decide that a direct-to-consumer business model was the best way to go when selling your product?
We know our customers like to shop across various channels so we do our best to accommodate that, so you can find Scrumbles both in store and online. As a challenger brand it’s important to make your product easily available, as no matter how well your product delivers if it’s difficult to get hold you won’t realise the full value of your brand.
DTC is particularly important as it enabled us to reach shoppers from Land’s End to John o’ Groats from day one. It also offers us a content rich platform to talk to and educate our customers which just isn’t possible sat on a shelf. That being said, DTC plays just one part of our omnichannel strategy and it’s the combination of specialty pet shops, vets and e-commerce platforms that have enabled us to build a business with more breadth that we believe gives us a competitive advantage over solely DTC competitors.
What’s next for Scrumbles after your appearance on the Den?
We’re really excited about the publicity that comes with a visit to the Den so in the coming days and weeks we will make the most of the opportunities that brings to put Scrumbles in front of more potential customers. Once the dust settles we’ll be back to our core mission which is to become the nation’s favourite natural pet food company. We are delighted to be launching into a number of Coop stores at the turn of the month which is a big milestone for us and we’ll be working hard to implement that. We also have some exciting innovation up our sleeve that we are busy preparing for market. We will continue to develop our DTC business including our subscription service which is performing well although it’s in its infancy. We are working hard on the tech and infrastructure to ensure that we can deliver the best service and can better measure our performance as we scale.