11 December 2017
How did you get your idea/concept for your business?
London’s food scene has undergone massive changes in the last ten years, but businesses have been slow to catch up — meetings were and are still full of terrible, uninspiring food. When I was working in finance, we were constantly given dull, samey food in our office, while the restaurants and kitchens on our doorstep were serving up something genuinely exciting. I couldn’t understand why teams weren’t eating together and eating well, so I decided to something about it.
What is unique about your business?
City Pantry has evolved in line with the needs of our customers, relentlessly experimenting to understand how best to meet their needs. First, we connected offices and teams in London with quality, nourishing food that they were missing out on for no good reason. Then, with a network of London’s best kitchens established, we turned our attention to what food and eating together does for company culture — how it encourages cross-functionality between teams, how it improves productivity, how it can create environments that people genuinely want to work in and come to work in. We pride ourselves on creating the kind of company culture that any employee would want to be part of.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
We stand out as the only B2B food company genuinely reinventing the way that teams eat together at work. We are more than a catering platform — we make tangible improvements to the way teams interact and the way companies approach culture.
What is the single most important decision you made that contributed to your success?
Well, to start in the first place! City Pantry came from nothing but a desire to bring better food to businesses with flawless service and once we started, we could change and develop, but you’re nothing until you start.
If you could time travel back to day one of your company and have 15mins with your former self, what would you say?
Worry less and remember to put things in perspective. The highs are never as high and lows are never as low as they seem at the time.
What are some of the biggest lessons that have impacted the way you work?
I try to read quite a lot and have had some great lessons in various books, it’s great skill to try and cultivate and surprisingly hard given how much attention is decreasing with the way that content is served these days. A few of real game-changing reads were ‘The power of habit’ – Charles Duhigg, ‘Good Strategy, Bad Strategy’ – Richard P. Rumelt and Jeff Bezos autobiography (and happy to share others if people want to message me).
Do you have any tips on how to manage work life balance. Do you have any hobbies that help you switch off?
I actually think that the idea of switching off is a bit of a myth. Work-life balance should mean that you never have to turn off work completely — otherwise it’s not a balance at all, if you love what do then you’ll never have to switch off.
What is the best advice you received, and that you still follow?
Felix Dennis, the publisher famous for planting trees put it nicely when he said “It’s just a game chum”.
If you had one piece of great advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Whatever it is you want to do, go out and find someone who has already done it, done it well and not too long ago. Learn from them as it’ll save you a lot of time and money.
What business owner or entrepreneur do you admire most?
This has to be Felix Dennis again. I’m a huge fan and love his pragmatic way of looking at business and life.