‘I used my redundancy money from British Airways to start a kids business’

Sophia Procter with her Thomas and Friends Munchy Play product (Munchy Play)

Sophia Procter with her Thomas and Good friends Munchy Engage in item (Munchy Engage in)

Sophia Procter was communications supervisor at British Airways for approximately a ten years, functioning the airline’s consumer PR like function on the London 2012 Olympic Games. Soon after the now-43-yr-aged returned from maternity go away in 2017, a company reshuffle noticed Procter face redundancy. Obtaining just invented a kids’ plate with a perform monitor all over the edge to entice her fussy son to eat additional, she made a decision to use her redundancy package from BA to start out a company of her possess.

“I arrived up with the thought for Munchy Participate in immediately after a lengthy working day at operate. I had just picked my son up from nursery, and experienced ‘mum guilt’ for not expending time with him, so tried using to make it up by cooking a nourishing food. Apart from, like lots of 18-thirty day period-olds, he had dropped all fascination in mealtimes. This particular day I’d created him a curry from scratch, but he refused to arrive to the table. I realised he was owning also significantly pleasurable with his toys and the supper desk was boring. So, I grabbed the trains and track he was playing with, and place it close to his plate. In that minute almost everything changed. He not only arrived to the desk, but sat there and ate. That was my lightbulb moment.

“When I took redundancy in 2017, I went straight into producing Munchy Play, although freelancing to help fund it. When I appeared at what was associated in launching a new product or service — from mental house legal rights, to acquiring metal equipment — I realised it was a sizeable sum. I invested all of my redundancy and some of my personal cost savings to get it off the ground — about £50,000.

“Having a terrific notion is 1 matter, and bringing it to life is very a further. The very first factor I did was because of diligence — plenty and plenty of analysis checking the plan didn’t exist, before preserving it with style legal rights and intellectual residence. Following, I approached trade bodies to come across a British manufacturer: even if it price a lot more, I believed that mom and dad have confidence in British merchandise, I wouldn’t have the stress of source chain complications, and I was keen to spend in our financial system.

“Once I uncovered the right company, they told me I’d need to have CAD styles from which the steel equipment would be created, so I designed a prototype and took it to the streets of London, thrusting it into parents’ hands for feedback! Naively, I imagined I’d have it performed in a lot less than a 12 months. But as I was generating a blueprint from scratch, there was a great deal of back again and forth, testing and failure. It took 3 yrs to make it take place. Alongside the way while, l was spurred on by some wonderful people. I received mentorship from Innovate United kingdom and the ‘Inventor in Residence’ at the British Library.

“I was last but not least prepared to start — with a handful of thousand plates completely ready to ship — in March 2020. Effectively, we all know what happened up coming. I experienced no decision but to press pause on the start. I ongoing freelancing, aiding small corporations with disaster PR. Then, about May, I realised that there was an option in this article. Dad and mom like me had been trapped at house, fatigued from property education and childcare, on the lookout for any type of mild reduction – particularly if it could be shipped to their door. So I made a decision to overhaul the enterprise system to target on offering on the internet, and released Munchy Engage in in June 2020.

“Launching in the center of a world wide pandemic was surely not straightforward – but I took whole benefit of all the guidance out there. Amazon and Enterprise Country had introduced programmes to support start off-ups, which I joined. This got me on BBC Breakfast news! Joe Wicks’ office environment used to be in close proximity to mine, so I dropped off some plates for his little ones, and a handful of months later he utilised them on his Instagram account.

“When we won ‘Small Organization Sunday’ an initiative hosted by [entrepreneur] Theo Paphitis to support smaller enterprises, our social media went into overdrive and it gave us trustworthiness far too. Six months right after launching, I approached Mattel as a licence husband or wife, and we’ve been functioning jointly ever considering that. Launching the Thomas & Friends™ assortment past yr was a important instant.

“We’ve now sold 10,000 plates. The next milestone is having into Large Road retail. Customers hold asking us when we will be in John Lewis, Smyths Toys, Argos, Hamleys, Ocado and even on QVC. I would seriously adore to see that transpire. We’re launching a new car plate selection and growing into world-wide markets — primarily United states of america — is some thing I’d like to glance at as our business grows, quite possibly with the guidance of traders in the foreseeable future.

“Taking redundancy was a difficult option, having said that it was the ideal one. It enabled me to launch an award-profitable product or service and gave me the freedom to operate flexibly, something I’m grateful for as a mom.”