Virgin StartUp of the week: Tiamee

Finding fresh and decent vegetables isn't a privilege reserved for top chefs. It's available to all, it's just hard to find them. This Virgin StartUp of the Week is aiming to solve all that. We gave Jonathan Butler, founder of Tiamee the ultimate elevator pitch to explain how his business is bringing restaurant quality produce to homes in Gloucester.

We choose one Virgin StartUp company to be featured on each week. We ask our startups of the week to deliver the ultimate elevator pitch. What would they say if they had one minute in a lift with Sir Richard Branson? 

Ground to floor 1 – Explain what your business does?

Tiamee is an online fresh produce grocer, delivering restaurant quality fresh produce to the home kitchen.  We sell fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy and bakery products via our online shop focusing on quality produce and locally sourced wherever possible.  Orders are then delivered to our customers through our own delivery vans.

Floor 1 to 2  - Where are you based?

We are based in Gloucester and currently deliver to most areas within Gloucestershire.

Floor 2 to 3 – What’s the business model?

Our business model has been derived from looking at the current offering from the ‘Veg Box’ schemes and the major supermarkets, with a dash of the wholesale market thrown in.  With the online grocery market growing we have developed a simple website that enables our customers to select the produce they want and have it delivered within 2 days.  This enables us to operate a virtually non-stock/minimal waste system as we only order in through our supply network what we have sold.

Floor 3 to 4 – Who are your competitors?

We are competing with the major supermarkets, veg box schemes and local farm shops.  This is a highly competitive industry so we are focused on our produce being of the high possible quality we can offer at a reasonable price.

Floor 4 to 5 – What’s your USP?

Our USP is that we offer ‘Restaurant quality produce to the home cook’.  Many more people want to be able to cook and replicate the food they see cooked on TV by famous chefs.  Tiamee works with and primarily uses suppliers that supply produce to top restaurants and chefs in the UK.  We also offer products that are not available in the supermarkets.  In addition our produce is much fresher as our supply chain is very direct and we offer free delivery on every order.

Floor 5 to 6 – Where did the idea come from?

As a frustrated former restaurateur and chef I was fed up with the poor quality and selection of produce available from the supermarkets.  In addition when ordering online it was like a game of roulette as to what state the fresh produce would be like when delivered.  I knew when I had my restaurants that the produce was always consistent and excellent quality and didn’t understand why this was not the case for the everyday consumer.

Floor 6 to 7 – How much funding did you receive from Virgin StartUp?

I received £10,000… THANK YOU!

Floor 7 to 8 – How are you going to use it to grow your business?

I have used the £10k to buy a fab ‘Bright Orange’ van for our deliveries as well as it funding some marketing.  We currently deliver small sample boxes to a selection of households for free.  This is giving us a great 40%+ sign up and order rate!

Floor 8 to 9 – Who’s your Virgin StartUp Mentor? (Name and business)

Sandra Tanner, SDT Coaching & Consultancy

Floor 9 to 10 – What’s the best tip they’ve given you?

I have run my own businesses since I was 23, so Sandra has just been a strong support more than anything, keeping me on track and providing a different perspective on things.  When setting up a business and it’s just you having a good mentor just to meet up and have a coffee with sometimes helps.

Floor 10 to 11 – What’s your workspace like? (send us a pic from your phone)

I currently run the business from my kitchen table, pack deliveries in the kitchen and then drive the van!

Floor 11 to 12 – where will your business be in 12 month’s time?

As Donald Trump put it, “I think big, most people think small, this gives me a distinct advantage.”  I am focused on growing Tiamee into a national business within 5-7 years.  So in 12 months I would like to have established the business in Gloucestershire with at least 5 vans on the road delivering 1,500 orders a week.  This would enable us to start to look at growing the business into more areas in following 12 months.

For more information about Tiamee, follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook.