WE DID IT! A MILLION THANK YOUS TO EVERYONE WHO DONATED AND PLEDGED TO SUPPORT THE NEXT LEG OF OUR JOURNEY X
I'm Ben - a little about me
I used to work in digital payments and customer experience, working for many well-known global corporates, before taking a mini career break last August as a mental reset. I was due back into a job in April, but then I think you're all aware the world closed and the rug was ripped from beneath my feet. Finding myself without income and having fallen through all the government support, it was either sink or swim - so I launched Loaf.ly and haven't looked back!
After designing the logo, putting together the business plan, joining forces with a close friend to help fund the idea, building the website, designing and procuring the packaging, securing the unit and receiving the first bike, I ruptured my Achilles' tendon... not exactly an ideal start when the business involved delivering out on a bike! A quick redraw of the business plan and a callout on social media led to Felipe, Sarah and Rich joining me to get Loaf.ly off the ground in the last week of August.
The need for more bikes
The demand from people across parts of London I never thought of reaching has been insane. The support from customers and the local community within the current delivery zone means we're where I thought we'd be in month 9, and we've only just finished month 3. Whilst being incredibly overwhelming and humbling, it's obviously put an incredible financial strain on us being able to fund this growth - not least in the amount of bottles and bags we have had to add into the circle.
Without the cafe being opened (due to many funding issues and the constant changing of tiers and restrictions) our cash flow doesn't cover the cost of getting new bikes. These represent a significant investment and are incredibly important to us as a business. Firstly they have significantly reduced running costs - no parking required or restrictions for example, or high insurance premiums. They provide us with easy access on cycle paths, great marketing and visibility, zero emissions and (obviously most importantly) keep us fit and healthy!
This funding will allow us to get another bike or two on the road. This will allow us to increase our delivery area by 20% to reach all postcodes in E6, E15 and E20 with the addition of the second bike, with the third bike allowing us to remove the zoning completely offering delivery 6 days a week to all customers within our delivery area.
You can choose to donate any amount to our cause which will enable us to grow more quickly, reach more people, install more circular economies and remove more packaging waste from the food supply chain.
If you pledge £10, £25, £50 or £100 then you'll be issued with credit worth 120% of your pledge (currently only available to customers in postcode areas E6, E13, E14, E15, E16 and E20). There is no limit on the amount you can donate, or the number of pledges you make.
We've also applied for matched funding under the Mayor of London's Pay it Forward scheme where the first £5k raised by a minimum of 50 people will be matched £ for £.
Loaf.ly - the business
Loaf.ly has quickly changed and adapted from the bread bakery I had planned to open into a far greater challenge to remove packaging waste from as many everyday products as possible. The continually changing landscape throughout 2020 means many last-minute changes and adaptations have had to be made whilst providing high quality and sustainable produce as accessibly as possible. I'm committed to offering free delivery and no minimum orders to try to achieve this. We're also (what we believe is) the first company to own the packaging products are delivered in. No longer will you have to pay to generate household waste. We are going further than recycling - because that should really be the last resort. If you don't need it, don't make it. Reduce - then Reuse - then Recycle.
In doing this, we've already created a circular economy in Royal Docks, where a little over 300 glass bottles have delivered almost 1,500 litres of fresh milk and fruit juice, and 200 cotton bread bags have carried over 500 fresh loaves of bread and over 1,000 fresh pastries.
It is this circular economy of sustainable and reusable packaging, which we have invested a lot of time and energy into designing, sourcing and procuring, that I want replicating across every London postcode.
We're part of the 1% for the Planet movement, where 1% of our turnover is donated to environmental projects to tackle climate change. We've also pledged to match this with our 1% for the People pledge - where again 1% of our turnover will be donated annually to local causes in the communities in which we operate.
What's beyond this step for Loaf.ly?
Once we have the additional bike or two, a more robust website offering you complete control of your deliveries, and a cafe/refill store in Canning Town, we'll be in a position to look at seed funding to expand rapidly across the other 100 postcodes in the capital. I am very keen on allowing those who want to invest in Loaf.ly the opportunity to be part of it - and so we'll be looking at opening up shares to the community as part of this fundraising round.