Starting from SCRATCH: Phil Pinnell

Entrepreneur Phil Pinnell started SCRATCH a few years ago when he saw a gap in the market for complete fresh meal kits in a range of flavours for one person. Now the brand is in several supermarkets namely Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Ocado and growing rapidly. He talks to Inspiring about the SCRATCH journey…

1. Where did the idea for Scratch come from?
Out of frustration really. Whilst at university I did an internship in Brussels which was the first time that I lived in a one bed flat. Working hours and the social side of the city could be unpredictable so I found such a run of the mill thing as what I ate in the evening a daily battle. I starting cooking but had to spend a fortune stocking up a spice cupboard and then – as everything is sold in multi-packs – I would end up wasting so much. Life descended into a haze of ready meals, McDonalds and restaurants which I couldn’t afford. So really I felt that there had to be another way for single people like myself cooking a meal from scratch and having something healthy and really tasty.

2. What are some of the biggest challenges that you’ve faced while running the business?
Right at the start of the business I had just come out of university and I think quite a few people are dismissive because of your age and inexperience. As soon as you start building up a track record of achievements – however big or small – and demonstrating the viability of the business people treat you on a very different basis.

Finance is never an easy thing to get right and in the recent economic climate the pitching to investors or other sources of finance has to be done in the right way.

3. What has been your proudest moment while running the business so far?
I think seeing the product on supermarket shelves is always a proud moment. We always thought that we had something really applicable and relevant to people so it’s amazing seeing people put our meals in their shopping baskets.

4. What are your plans for SCRATCH moving forward?
We’ve got such a long way to go in fulfilling our vision of revolutionising the ready meal and transforming weekday evenings. This year is all about growing the number of stores that we sell the product, building the brand and strengthening our team. We’re determined to continue to try new things, evolve our product, get stuff wrong and become a truly brilliant business.

5. How did the collaboration with Michael Roux Snr come about and how important has this been for SCRATCH?
We met through a mutual contact of ours who thought that we were interested in a shared challenge of how we can improve cooking and the food that we put on our table. It’s been great for us as a business and me personally. Michel brings a tireless and expert eye on what we do which is challenging but great for our development. He is not only a chef who has had three Michelin Stars for twenty five years but also someone that has set up and very successfully run businesses so he is also invaluable from that perspective as well.

6. What advice would you give to entrepreneurs currently starting a business?
Tons of people disagree with me but I think get to market and talk to customers as early as you can. Instead of spending all your time and money making a ‘perfect’ product in a dark room talk to people and evolve it really early. Other than developing a stronger proposition it has so many other benefits like creating an interested user base before launch, helping create a story for investors/banks etc. and will give you confidence and validity in what you believe to be the greatest thing ever.

Visit the SCRATCH website to find out where you can pick up one of their fresh meal kits.