Entrepreneur Q&A: ‘We are the underdogs when it comes to funding’

Luke Johnstone of PACK'D smoothie kits talks about launching a business with his childhood pal, crowdfunding and living in a shed.

How did PACK’D come about? What is its USP?

I had the idea for PACK’D because I wanted natural, targeted nutrition to fuel my performance at work and in sport.

I saw PACK’D as an antidote to unhealthy bottled drinks and a shortcut to the ultimate homemade smoothie. I did my research and there was a clear gap for nutritious homemade food and drink, so I teamed up with my school friend Alex to bring PACK’D to life.

Our USP is natural performance nutrition. Each recipe is designed with elite nutritionist Matt Lovell to provide the precise whole fruit, vegetables and superfoods to boost performance. Unlike traditional performance nutrition, we do not use any stabilisers, thickeners, flavourings, sweeteners or additives.

What are your goals as a business?

To fuel potential by providing the tools and opportunities for people to reach their personal best, starting with the right nutrition! Ultimately, we want to make a positive and lasting impact worldwide.

What’s your approach to hiring employees?

We ask ourselves: do they love the brand, will they strengthen team culture and can they increase our performance over the next five years? It is also important to be open and make sure that this is the right fit for them too – we want them to be motivated for the long term.

What has it been like working with your childhood friend?

It’s one of the most rewarding aspects of the entire business. Like any relationship, we had many challenges at the start but as the business has grown, so too has our understanding of one another. Our friendship and our business are stronger because we are working together.

What sacrifices did you have to make to get the business going?

Transitioning from a full-time job to building PACK’D was a challenge and we’ve put everything into following our dreams.

PACK'D smoothie kits are really taking off

It has meant time away from family and friends, having to say no to other opportunities and a lack of disposable income to enjoy the things that most young people do. However, the reward is giving your all towards a goal that you are passionate about, standing the chance of making a positive impact on the world and building new memories with those around you.

Tell us more about your crowdfunding

As one of the smallest brands in the supermarkets, we are the underdogs when it comes to funding.

We started as a market stall with support from The Prince’s Trust, I lived in a shed for two years, and we spent nine months developing our first recipes. We brought our Smoothie Kits to life with a loan from Virgin StartUp and secured our first listing with Eat17, the shop opposite our market pitch.

Then the hard work started to pay off; we pioneered Smoothie Kits in to over 1500 stores, secured investment from industry experts and we grew and grew and grew. We’ve hit over 2000 per cent growth since 2016, with more than two million Smoothie Kits sold and £1.3 million in revenue last year alone.

Now we’ve launched on Crowdcube to take PACK’D to the next level, to grow our community and give more people the chance to own shares in the business.

Crowdfunding has taught us a lot, including the importance of a great pitch video, arranging investor meetings early and having a good strategy to spread awareness. It is an amazing chance to tell your story and we hope that we have achieved this well.

We are delighted that so many people that we’ve met along the way now have the chance to own a share of the business and that our community is growing even bigger. With 344 new investors and £420,000 raised so far, we have just 16 per cent of our target remaining.

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