At StartUp Creative we are passionate about building healthy thriving businesses and always aim to showcase businesses that are leading the way in creating real food for our bodies and brain. When we came across Zero Bites we wanted to know the story behind the brand and got chatting with husband and wife team, Claudia and Gary. The team come from a background in IT, sales and marketing and decided to build a business together in July 2015 after their daughter was diagnosed with a food allergy.
Their name and tag line is Zero Bites, because numbers are not food, was inspired by their youngest daughter after they explained to her she can’t eat food with numbers in it.
When did you start Zero Bites?
We launched our first product, organic oat clusters, to market in July 2015. We came across this concept whilst we were evaluating an alternative concept for a business related to kids healthy snacking. Prior to embarking on our food venture, we did not comprehend how many steps would be involved, the challenges we would meet, and how long this would actually take to achieve.
Why did you start Zero Bites?
Our youngest child was diagnosed with a number of food allergies from a young age and is also intolerant to a lot of foods. She was placed on an extremely restricted diet for almost two years, which became unsustainable for us. When we tried to normalise her diet, she reacted to most of the food that we gave her.
After she experienced an anaphylactic attack we re-examined our food choices, ripped apart our pantry, and binned anything with a number as an ingredient (additive/preservative). We were so frustrated by the lack of ready made snacks available; everything was highly processed, had a number in it, or contained high sodium and sugar. This led to many hours in the kitchen baking lunchbox snacks in place of convenient store bought options.
After much experimentation, we created our organic oat clusters. We wanted to make our snacks accessible to others, recognising that not everyone has the time or inspiration to whip up homemade snacks. This eventually led to the creation of Zero Bites. It was important for us to ensure our product had integrity and aligned with our values. We pursued organic and kosher certifications, knowing that we needed to meet strict and ethical standards in the production of our product.
Had you had previous business experience before Zero Bites?
Not in food manufacturing. Our experience has been gained from our respective careers – we dived in head first!
What was the very first thing you did when you started out?
We made sure we had as many people as possible taste test our oat clusters. Once we knew we had a great product, we started working toward developing our business concept.
What has been your proudest moment in business?
When our customers tell us how much they love our product. We recently received a beautiful message from a mum of a 3-year-old autistic boy who is a picky eater. She took the time to write to us and thank us for providing a lovely product and a wholesome snack that her son actually enjoys. This blew us away, it was so rewarding to make a positive difference for another family.
Tell us about a struggle/challenge you’ve had in business and how you overcame it?
Finding time to focus on growing a start-up together whilst raising a family and working full-time jobs is an ongoing challenge (one that requires a constant readjustment of priorities). Finding pockets of time to work (very early mornings, late evenings and most weekends), prioritisation of objectives, and being extremely organised, is necessary to try and fit everything in. Acceptance that not everything will always be accomplished in the desired timeframes is also needed to be realistic about what can be achieved.
What’s your next goal for Zero Bites?
To continue to grow a brand which represents our values, including the development of new products. Additionally we would love Zero Bites to become a channel to educate mums, dads and children about the importance of making the right food choices, as we believe these learnings are a lifelong gift that will lead to a stronger future generation.
What are your three top tips for people looking to start their own business?
1. Find people you trust who are on the same page as you and who can listen and advise you – there is a very steep learning curve and it’s important to surround yourself with a sustainable support network.
2. Don’t sit back and wait for the perfect moment to start your business, (there is no such thing as perfect). Get started and follow the bouncing ball, take one step at a time, task focused – you will always find a way to work things out if you remain connected to your ‘why’.
3. Trust your gut instinct – it is always right!