Griddle was Founded in Nov 2019 by friends and food and fitness enthusiasts, Sophie and Ella. Living together in London, the pair would often go for runs together and wanted something tasty yet nourishing to enjoy after. They quickly discovered that all the ready to eat pancakes on the supermarket shelves were packed full of artificial flavours, sugar, sweeteners and nasties. This lightbulb moment sent them on the journey to create healthy, ready to eat pancakes, which after some trials and tweaks, launched into Sainsbury’s in 2019. Since then the brand has gone from strength to strength, most recently pivoting into frozen with the launch of the UK’s first ever range of plant based toaster waffles. We caught up with them to find out how they have transformed the frozen food market from 'guilty pleasure' to 'guilt free pleasure' when it comes to snacking. 

Sophie McGregor and Ella Harland from We Are Griddle

Sophie McGregor and Ella Harland from We Are Griddle

Please tell us how the idea for your new brand Griddle came about.

Ella and I used to live together in London and cooking breakfast was a weekend ritual. We used to go for a run along the river then head back to the flat and whip up a batch of pancakes, piling them high with our favourite toppings. We tried so many ways of making them, with different flours, seeds, oats, nut milks etc etc… What really struck us though was why there was no option to have this homemade quality pre-made to enjoy during the busy week. Everything on the shelves in the bakery aisle was full of refined flour, tons of sugar and despite all the preservatives, would go off before we finished the pack. So our weekend breakfast turned into a weekend project…. How do we fix this?

What are your top tips for setting up a business with a friend and roommate and how do you separate business from your personal relationship?

Living together has been the best foundation for setting up a business. We learnt very quickly how to communicate and support each other. We all have our good and bad days and living together really built the foundation of friendship. But we definitely aren’t good at separating work life and personal life… we somehow seem to always end up chatting about Griddle! 

Why pancakes and waffles? What can they offer post workout that other snacks can't?

We started with pancakes because they were our go-to after a run or workout snack.  We used wholegrains for that steady release of energy and high amounts of fibre to support our gut health. But as well as being healthy they felt like a treat, so it was a win-win. They are also the perfect base to customise - so we can sit down and have the same meal together but with completely different toppings. And the same applies to our waffles, which are a first of their kind in the UK market!

What didn't you like about those that were already on sale?

Almost everything!! There were no exciting flavours, and everything was full of refined flour, sugar, artificial colours and preservatives. They were so lacklustre, no goodness in them at all. Not the way that we knew they could be enjoyed!

Why do you believe the future is in frozen foods?

Since we launched our pancakes we have pivoted into frozen bakery with a 3 strong range of waffles and plenty more products to come. Creating that homemade experience was something that was really important to us. With frozen, you can cook it at home and the whole house becomes filled with the most delicious bakery aroma. On top of that, frozen food enables us to combat two issues which are of extreme importance; food waste and food quality. None of our products contain preservatives or anything artificial, crucial to supporting health. Frozen also helps reduce food waste at home, you never have to chuck a stale, half eaten pack away again.  

Credit: Alex Jackson
Credit: Alex Jackson

Why was it important to you that these were plant-based offerings?

Small changes can add up to make a big difference. There are so many hidden animal products in our food that really don’t need to be there. We really wanted to prove that you can have delicious food without compromise and still 100% natural. It’s also worth mentioning that we have taste tested our products with a number of non-vegans and not one could taste that they didn’t contain animal products! We never want to be preachy about this though, our products are for everyone, vegans and non-vegans alike! 

Please tell us about your backgrounds before launching your brand together and how they helped prepare you for the business.

We actually both had quite similar journeys, starting our careers in corporate financial services companies (Sophie was in Guy Carpenter and Ella was in PwC) before feeling very unfulfilled and uninspired and moving into industries that we were passionate about… Food and beverage! Ella was an early employee at Pip & Nut, and Sophie at Vita Coco. I think the main learnings that can be taken from working in a start-up environment previously are a feeling of ownership and responsibility - i.e. if you want something to happen, you need to roll up your sleeves, get stuck in and make it happen, unlike with larger corporations where there is often a big team, many levels of hierarchy and lots of processes!

You have just received £400,000 of investment so how do you plan to grow your business further with the money?

We have indeed! As is often the case with a start-up, the funds will be spread across a number of different areas within the business, but all with the same overarching objective of scaling and accelerating growth. We have just launched into Morrisons and have three more nationwide listings secured for later in the year and so a large chunk of funds will be used to support these accounts with marketing and working capital for stock. Getting our products on the shelves is of course no mean feat, but keeping our products on the shelves is the real challenge! 

We are also looking to grow our team this year - we have always said you’re only as good as the people involved, and so it’s imperative to fill gaps in the team where we lack experience and knowledge!

As fitness enthusiasts, why is what you eat after a workout just as important as the workout itself?

If you fuel yourself right you get a better workout and quicker recovery. So you can get up the next day and feel your best, mentally as well as physically. Looking after our wellbeing is always high on our priority list, because we need to be our best to build the best business.

Waffles and pancakes are often thought to be a junk food, so how have you busted this myth with your product?

We still have a lot of work to do in communicating the benefits of our products, but people do typically think of pancakes and waffles as a guilty treat, often because of the high amounts of sugar that they contain. But really that’s only a result of manufacturers making cost saving reductions - sugar is one of the cheapest ingredients and as consumers we’ve been left to pay for the consequences. So we set out to change this by working very closely with our suppliers to create affordable, delicious products that aren’t full of sugar and use the best quality ingredients so they can be enjoyed everyday. 

MORE: Founders of free from soup brand explain why 'vegan' doesn't always mean healthy

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