Interview with Anushi Desai, co-founder of Plant Pops

Find out how boring work snacks inspired Anushi Desai to launch Plant Pops, delicious, award winning plant based snacks that are good for you, the environment and the communities that create them. 

What’s your career background?

I started out at KPMG as a Management Consultant, working for big banks and financial institutions.

Where did your business idea come from?

At work, we tended to snack a lot but it was always on the same things – crisps and popcorn, which got boring fairly quickly!

I started making popped lotus seed snacks at home for my colleagues and friends (just like my mother and grandmother did as I was growing up) and my colleagues loved them.

I tried so many different flavours and it was great to see everyone enjoy them – that’s when we knew we were onto a winner!

What’s your USP?

We make snacks that are good for you, the environment and the communities that create them.

What’s your target audience?

Originally our target audience was people just like me – office workers who fancied a bit of a change. But as we got up and running we have secured a lot of enquiries from food halls, discerning delis, coffee shops, healthy vending operations, farm shops and wholesalers of a healthier living disposition.

In truth, the independent sector as a whole is always interested in intriguing start-ups that help them differentiate their offer from those of the predictable major multinationals.

Moving forward into post lockdown, the meteoric growth of our online shop has allowed us to reach a lot more people than before and understand our loyalists like never before!

How did you transition from idea to actual business?

It took some nudging. I knew we had a winning product when we saw people’s reactions to it. But it took a while for me to feel confident enough to take the leap from a comfortable career into start up world. I’m so glad I did now, and wish I had done it earlier!

How do you spread the word about what you do?

At the beginning, we asked everyone we knew to try our snacks and give us feedback. Word of mouth gets you so far and we’re also pretty active on social media and will be getting more to grips with PR over the coming months. 

At the end of the day our range is best advocate for all that we stand for so we can’t wait to get back into stores as they open up to sample growing numbers of snacking enthusiasts.

What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

Starting a business in an industry that both my co-founder and I don’t have a background in meant that everything felt like a real challenge at the beginning although it’s a friendly community with a real appetite for new ideas.

We particularly struggled with our packaging and made a lot of mistakes along the way trying to get that one sorted.

Why is work so important to you?

I absolutely love what I do. Owning your own business is hard and there’s real highs but also really low lows but I love creating new snacks that people might not have heard of before, but end up absolutely loving.

Who inspires you?

I’m hugely inspired by my parents who moved to the UK 25 years ago. Seeing how hard they’ve worked has been really motivating and made me want to own my own business someday. Particularly, also seeing my mum work so hard as a frontline NHS worker during COVID has been incredible. 

I also am so inspired by anyone that goes out there and tries to make their idea or dream a reality – it’s a really scary step to take and it’s amazing to see people do it!

How do you balance work and home life?

Not quite sure I’ve balanced it just yet, but am very lucky to be surrounded by an incredibly supportive partner, family and close group of friends.

I’ve made a conscious effort to carve some time out for myself everyday, it’s too easy to get carried away with work, and I find taking a break to recharge makes me much more efficient for the rest of the day anyway.

What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?

  1. Back yourself and just get started.
  2. Get feedback, and then get more feedback! Tweak your product based on customer feedback and don’t wait till everything is 100% before you start.
  3. Take a break – it makes you much more efficient in the long run and lets you recharge.

Find out more about Plant Pops.