Sundried is an independent UK business that was founded by entrepreneur Daniel Puddick. We encourage the growth of small businesses and want to empower consumers to choose ethical companies rather than defaulting to multi-national corporations and faceless conglomerates.
We spoke to Erin Moroney, founder of healthy protein snack brand Nibble Protein, about life as an entrepreneur and her journey in growing her business.
In a nutshell, what is the story of Nibble Protein? What motivated you to develop the idea?
A few years ago, I was training for the marathon and I discovered I was protein deficient (I had been a badly-behaved veggie for years). I was working in a very busy creative agency with little time to eat, so I wanted a bite-sized high protein snack that I could nibble on anytime (en route to meetings, etc). I couldn’t find any yummy lower sugar, high protein snacks that I liked that weren’t dairy or soy based. Almost everything on the market was full of sugar. So I created Nibble out of necessity!
What was the biggest challenge you faced when setting up this business?
The biggest challenge was cracking our recipe to make it shelf-stable. I had no experience in the food industry (and I didn’t know a thing about food science) and I unwittingly chose the most complicated list of must-haves for my first retail food product. Technically, it’s very difficult to create lower sugar products because sugar helps extend shelf life. It’s made even more challenging when it’s a high protein recipe because it’s hard to bind the batter without using a lot of sugar or fat. And making a bite-sized product creates a whole host of issues from a manufacturing point of view.
I was also really fussy about how we sweetened our bites which didn’t make it any easier. I wanted to create an all-natural recipe without using common “low sugar” sweeteners like agave (it has to be processed by your liver to convert to energy) and malitol (comes with a laxative warning—no thanks!). I also wanted to avoid the classic snack bar staple, dates—they’re high in sugar and they’re used in SO many bars/balls. In the end, we used antioxidant-rich and low GI dried plum purée as our unique base.
While I was still working on the recipe, I approached dozens of manufacturers and all of them told me that what we wanted to create was impossible. It took a good year and hundreds of test batches to crack the recipe, but we got there in the end. After all the challenges, it was all the more satisfying when we won an Innovation Challenge Award the month we launched!
How do you manage a healthy work-life balance?
Uh, I might not be the best person to answer that one—I’m still working on it! A healthy work-life balance is really hard to achieve with a start-up (especially when you are manufacturing a product). But I find exercise really helps—running is my mental laundry
What's been the most exciting part of developing Nibble Protein?
It’s incredibly satisfying seeing a product I’ve developed out in the market. I was so excited the first time I saw all 7 Nibble flavours on the shelves of Whole Foods! And it’s great developing a product that helps to solve a problem. Our bites typically have half to two thirds less sugar than most other all-natural snack bars/balls on the market. Nibble has been developed with low GI ingredients, so our bites provide slow releasing energy which has a wealth of health benefits. Eating a low GI diet is a real game-changer from a physical and mental point of view (learn more here).
And we’re also super excited about our nutrition partnership with the Mintridge Foundation. Mintridge is a registered charity that helps get kids into sports and wellness. Working with pro athlete ambassadors, Mintridge goes into schools and provides mentoring and training for youths (ages 4-18). The charity and (and its athletic ambassadors) give out our Nibble Brownie Bites in schools (and other events) to encourage healthier snacking. We’re excited to hopefully help start healthy habits early!
What does the future hold for Nibble Protein?
Although our current products are all protein based, our main USP is the lower sugar element. So we plan to expand our range to include other lower sugar snacks (non-protein based). We are also fielding a lot of export requests at the moment so we are launching soon in the Middle East and Asia. And I’m from Boston, USA originally, so I’m also on a mission to bring Nibble to the States soon!
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
It’s really tough starting a business, so you need to be tenacious, believe in your idea, and do your homework. It can be a really steep learning curve (I went from working in photography/advertising to food manufacturing), so don’t be afraid to ask questions. And most importantly, make sure you are surrounded by a great network of loyal friends/family. You’ll have those nightmare days when you just want to give up, but the support will be invaluable!
- Coffee or tea? Coffee
- Summer or winter? Summer
- Gym or outdoors? Outdoors
- Weights or cardio? Cardio
- Sweet or savoury? Savoury
Nibble Protein is available from Ocado, Whole Foods, As Nature Intended, Harvey Nichols, Harrods Pharmacy, Farm Girl, John Bell & Croyden, Revital, Amazon, and lots of lovely indies!