Today we are chatting with Aneisha Soobroyen, co-founder and CEO of Scrumbles, an ethical, gut friendly pet food company.
Hi Aneisha, how are you today?
Hi guys, the sun is shining and it feels like there is an end to lockdown in sight so I’m all smiles here 😊
How Did Scrumbles Start?
Scrumbles was born out of trying to solve our kitten Boo’s tummy problems. She had regular upset tums and the only thing that would help us get on top of it was a probiotic paste we were getting from the vet. She simply couldn’t do without it, so we thought it would be a bright idea to create a food that included the probiotic within the recipe. It took a couple of years of research, testing and a lot of poop photos to sift through but we eventually created a food she loved with the probiotic benefits she needed. It turns out we weren’t the only pet parents interested in digestive health so Scrumbles grew from there.
How Did You Choose The Name “Scrumbles”?
We wanted a name that was fun, foodie and catchy. We went through a 100 ideas a couple of glasses of wine before we settled on Scrumbles and now can’t imagine it being anything else.
What Makes Scrumbles Different From Other Pet Food Companies?
We talk about poop a lot… The food we make is unique because we always have digestive health in mind. That’s why we use some unusual ingredients and avoid others that you might find in many pet foods. But as a company we’re different because it’s really a reflection of us. I started Scrumbles with my husband, and we run it together as a family company. If you see Scrumbles at an event or show 90% of the time it’ll be Jack or I running the stall. We’re passionate about the environment so we go to great lengths to do right by the planet. It’s not always easy and what seems like the better option isn’t always necessarily the case, so we work with the experts to conduct life cycle assessments and make informed decisions. That’s why we use recyclable bags rather than industrially compostable ones, and focus on lower food miles by manufacturing and sourcing as locally as possible. We also like to have fun, which is why you might notice silly jokes on the pack, or cheesy selfies on our Instagram.
What gave you the confidence in those early days that it could work?
We never knew that the company would be a success but we knew we had a great product and were absolutely determined to put our all behind the company. At times it was really tough, we’d have almost no money in the bank, bills to pay and many sleepless nights. We kept going through sheer determination and being the two of us together we understood what the other was going through and could look after one another. The step change in the business came after a very cringe episode of Dragons Den which got the brand seen by millions of people and our lovely existing customers who shouted out about Scrumbles to help spread the word.
Are you owned by a cat? Tell us about your fur babies!
Of course, aren’t all cat owners? Being mum to both a cat, Boo and a dog, Smudge, they have shared ownership and I think Smudge is the bossier of the two. Boo is literally bedding on my lap as I type – she wants a fuss. Boo is a beautiful, longhaired mackerel tabby. She has piercing eyes and looks ever so elegant from afar but she’s like a clumsy teenager when you get to know her. With mood swings to match! Smudge is a Lhasa apso, shih tzu who spends most of our days squirrel watching, blanket hogging and trying to steal Boo’s toys and food.
What is the most challenging thing about your job? What is the most rewarding?
The hardest things about running Scrumbles is the relentlessness, it’s only recently that we’ve dropped to 6 days a week but the reality is that it never ends. There is always a customer, supplier or issue in need of attention whether it’s 5pm or 3am. I’ve had one short break since we began and I could barely leave my laptop. The rewards are incredible though of course – I’ve learnt so much on this journey about cats, dogs, myself and business. We have the best customers who write to tell us about their pets, like how we’ve changed their cats life and it makes the long hours’ worth while. We also get to work with some amazing charities like The Cat Welfare Group and All Dogs Matter and it’s such a nice feeling to be able to help cats and dogs who have had such a difficult life.
How do you spread the word about Scrumbles?
Being a boot strapped start up, we’re digitally biased and mainly use social media, Instagram and Facebook, but we also rely on word of mouth. Pet owners love to talk about their furbabies so if we’ve been able to help their cat they usually tell friends and family and it grows from there.
What impact (if any) has the internet had on your business?
The internet is incredibly important for us, especially in recent months. Starting out it is one of the only ways you can reach customers since you aren’t stocked in hundreds of shops and it levels the playing field with the big name brands out there. Of course, since COVID and lockdowns it has been absolutely vital since we are all trying to avoid going out as much as possible. Shopping online has been a lifeline in that way.
What do you do for fun when you aren’t working on Scrumbles!
Well of course my furbabies take up a lot of my time. Boo and Smudge both have long coats that require lots of grooming but it’s lovely bonding time. We get out for long walks with Smudge and when we have time my husband and I like to play games, so we play chess or indulge in old school video games or whatever the new favourite is at the time.
How Do You See Cat Ownership Changing In The Next 10 Years?
Our bonds with our cats are only getting stronger over time, so I see a bright future for cat ownership. Probably more cats out there and more enriched lives which is wonderful. We are all becoming more aware of our cat’s needs but equally mindful of our environmental impact so I think many pet owners we be looking at what that means for their kitties – the food they eat, the litter they use etc. That is an important issue we all need to tackle but if we are thoughtful I’m sure there will be some great solutions.
What’s New And Exciting At Scrumbles?
Last year we launched our wet cat foods, which were hugely popular so we’ve just created our first multipack and its already flying off shelves. We were also delighted that Sainsbury’s chose to put our wet cat foods into their superstores in January which was incredible news for us.
How did you convince the big retailers to list you?
With great difficulty and a little bit of pestering (flirting closely with the line of annoying). We’ve been incredibly lucky to start a relationship with Sainsburys and are eternally grateful to the buyer for giving us that chance. We’ve always been consumer and customer centric from day one and as well as regularly speaking to our customers, use the data that’s available to us to gain better insights into how we can help our customers. That’s helped us gain momentum quick enough to share some positive stories with the retailers showcasing the value Scrumbles can add.
What Can Cat parents Look Forward To From Scrumbles In The near Future?
We’ve been busy in the kitchen developing some new cat treats, so keep your eyes peeled for them in the next couple of months. We’ve set out to create something that is really simple, natural and irresistible for cats. We think we’ve found something purrfect, so watch this space
How can our readers get their hands (and paws) on your lovely cat food and treats?
We’re available online where you have the option of buying directly with us at scrumbles.co.uk as a one off or setting up a regular order and you’ll also find us on Amazon, Ocado, Fetch and a smaller selection at Pets at Home, but they can also find us offline in a number of independent pet shops and a selection of our kitty products in Sainsbury’s and we’re working hard to get into new places.