In today’s podcast, we meet Alla Ouvarova, co-owner and co-founder of TwoChicks, a maker of egg-white products and a new range of healthy egg-white snacks called “Chirps”. During a stint in Los Angeles, Anna Richey – Alla’s friend from college-days – discovered the trend among health-conscious celebrities and sports people for ‘skinny’ egg white omelettes. Upon returning to the UK, Anna correctly identified a distinct gap in the market for free-range liquid egg-whites. She roped in Alla and promptly established Anna Alla Ltd based in London, England in 2007.
In the interim, the pair have secured several rounds of investor-led funding, convinced national retailers to stock their products, outsourced production of their product range, hired several employees, achieved sales close to GBP 3 million ($USD 4.5 million) and have successfully launched their products in Hong-Kong, Thailand, France and other markets.
The brand has attracted the endorsement of UK-based celebrity television chefs and entrepreneurs Nigella Lawson, Lloyd Grossman and John Torode. All this in seven short years, during the starkest economic recession of modern times, despite having neither culinary qualifications nor previous food-business experience. Anna and Alla exemplify the kind of entrepreneurial qualities, which we particularly admire: self-belief, entrepreneurial determination and ‘guts’. Two Chicks have it.
Some excerpts from today’s podcast:
You have a food business called TwoChicks based in the UK. What exactly does two chicks produce?
Alla: We launched Two Chicks in 2007 with the first liquid free-range egg-white (product) on to the UK market. We then followed up with an omelette mix and right now we are in the process of launching another product, which is a healthy-snack, which is also made with egg-white. It’s a crisps-style product called ‘Chirps’.
What exactly brought you to the idea of making products, which are very specific, namely egg-whites. How come there is a market for egg-white (products) in the UK?
Alla: Well, it was actually my business partner (Anna Richey). She came up with the idea. She spent some time living in LA. Egg white is very popular over there. When she came back to the UK, she could’t find egg-white and she really thought it would work. So, she asked me if I wanted to start the business with her. She had studied English at university and I had studied economics. So, with our skills combined, it worked really well.
So neither of you really had a food background. You weren’t previously in some kind of food-business and then made the leap from a food-production business to your own business.
Alla: No. We were literally just finishing university and getting started in our careers. I was very lucky. For me, it was just brilliant timing. Because, having studied economics at university, I was desperate to use my education. I was thinking of business ideas. I had this entrepreneurial spirit. So, when Anna approached me with this idea, I thought it was perfect.
How did you learn to make the product? So, you have something, which is obviously simple in the sense, that it consists of egg-whites. But there is obviously more to it than that. How did you learn to make a food-product, which is now in food retail outlets, yet you had no food production experience? That really is intriguing.
Alla: The learning-curve has been extremely steep. We’ve learnt so much along the way. We just started researching and wrote a business plan. We looked into finding food producers. We didn’t actually produce the egg-white ourselves. Building a factory and things like that were not things we wanted to do. It requires a particular business skill-set and massive investment. We found a producer, who could do this for us.
Now listen to the rest of this episode, where you will learn:
- How Anna and Alla combined their university qualifications to build their first business
- How they knew that there was a gap in the market, which they could fill even without experience
- How the pair cleverly outsourced production rather than take on the cost of plant and machinery
- What it takes to make a success of a business partnership between friends
- What an entrepreneur’s average day is filled with in terms of marketing and business activities
- Why the business is in specific overseas markets, which suit their customer profile
- How a food business advisor has been instrumental in helping drive Two Chicks’ success
- What plans Alla and Anna have for ‘Chirps’, their third line of products
- How you can convince a buyer to put your product on store shelves
- How the pair might consider an exit strategy if right the opportunity presents itself
- What kind of advice Alla offers you as a prospective food business owner
Useful Links and Resources:
- twochicks – Two Chicks Web Site (UK)
- facebook – Two Chicks on Facebook
- nigellalawson – Nigella Lawson – celebrity author and television chef (UK)
- lloydgrossman – Lloyd Grossman – celebrity television food critic and food entrepreneur (UK)
- thenextwoman – Article from The Next Women Business Magazine (UK)
- LivePlan* – Software used to create a business plan quickly (US)
- 99Designs *- Get a logo designed by hundreds of designers and pay for only the one you want
*This is an affiliate link, where we enjoy a small commission at no cost to you, should you sign-up with LivePlan or 99Designs. Whenever we stand to make any money from an affiliate, whose services or goods we have used and recommend we will proudly mark this with an asterisk*
Thanks to our guest… and thanks to you!
A very special thanks to today’s guest, Alla Ouvarova of TwoChicks.co.uk for sharing her tips and advice from her spectacular journey so far. Thanks especially to you for listening to today’s podcast here on makemoneywithfood.com, home of the food entrepreneur!
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