Valerie joined TableCrowd for a ladies-only dinner with The Primal Pantry in September. It was a brilliant night where the founder Suzie Walker shared all on building a strong consumer brand as well as raising investment and getting stocked by major retailers. We were curious to find out more about Valerie and her growing business – so we asked her a few questions…
Explain your business in one sentence!
ProToGo is a high-protein all natural grab&go meal service that delivers to offices, individuals, and gyms across London.
What were you doing before you launched your business?
Before I launched ProToGo I was both studying and modeling. As I had to travel a lot, I noticed that, especially when I was in London, it was hard to find healthy and filling food on the go. I started doing research on this and found out that most of the “healthy” take away meals lack protein, healthy fats and micro-nutrients. On a mission to solve this problem, I moved to London for my last year of University and then started working for a healthy soft-drink startup called Nix&Kix. This was an amazing opportunity for me to gather experience and to build up a network within the industry. After 6 months I took the leap and started ProToGo.
If you have business partners, where did you meet them?
I am a sole founder. I do have some mentors and advisors and I met them via introduction or by just contacting them and hoping they would have time to grab a coffee. And some of them did, even for many coffees after that!
What’s your biggest “hindsight” moment?
That might be right now actually. I had an interesting meeting with an advisor and he gave me a proper wake-up call. When being too focused on operations, you sometimes forget about the bigger picture. It’s what I’m good at so it gives me ‘comfort’ (although operations will never be comfortable as we all know), but it’s time to step out of that comfort zone and think further ahead.
What will the next year bring?
The next year will bring a big shift in the production/operation-processes, so I can free my time for sales, marketing, and strategy. We’re planning on tripling our sales by the end of the year but first, we need to raise some funds for that.
Give us one piece of advice for someone starting a business in your sector!
I would say surround yourself with experienced people. Reach out to your “industry heroes” – the advice you’ll get is invaluable.
Convince someone to use your product in under 50 words!
ProToGo is all about making eating healthy a sustainable lifestyle. Many people relate healthy with unsatisfying salads or boring chicken, broccoli, and rice, but it doesn’t have to be like that! We make dishes perceived on the unhealthy spectrum of food healthy again: kale mac n cheese, chicken nuggets etc. We’ve swapped ingredients, changed cooking techniques and now all these dishes are available for you for around 300cal with great macro- and micro-nutrient ratios.
What’s your favourite business in your sector (not including your own)?
I’m a huge fan of Le Pain Quotidien, and that’s not just because it’s Belgian (I’m Belgian ;). The concept is just right. Health focus goes hand in hand with indulging, the atmosphere in the restaurants, the way they adapt to new ‘trends’ in the food industry,.. it all works. It’s my dream to meet the founder Alain Coument and/or the ex-CEO Vincent Herbert one day. The amount of experience and advice they must have!
Tell us about your TableCrowd experiences!
I’m fairly new to TableCrowd but loved my first experience so much! I attended a table with Suzie Walker, founder of Primal Pantry. Her story is so inspiring and her advice was super useful too.
What’s your favourite London restaurant?
I’m an absolute foodie so I love to try new places all the time. But there is one restaurant that is always worth going back to – The Oystermen in Covent Garden. Matt and Rob are two of the most passionate people I know, and they absolutely nailed it with their Covent Garden restaurant. Amazing seafood, super creative little plates, all at a reasonable price, I’m a true fan 🙂
Our next Ladies-only dinner is coming up!