In The Buff. They Make Super Sauces!
We recently caught up with Henry Kay and Nick Briggs, co-founders of In The Buff. They are innovating in the food condiment market with their high-protein ketchups.
Henry has a background in client account management in the tech and digital world and simply had a 'light bulb moment' one morning in the gym. After a workout, Henry would often refuel by reheating last night’s healthy dinner or meal-prepped lunch, adding a squeeze of ketchup to bring it back to life. But then something stopped him. He realised that it didn’t make sense to put all that effort in at the gym only to cover your food in salt and sugar. Nick has a background in the FMCG sector and marketing and as soon as Henry shared his ideas with Nick one day in the pub (yes, you heard it right, where many best business decisions get made) they decided that the world needed a new kind of ketchup – one that’s perfect for foodies and fitness lovers alike!
Their branding and website do a great job of telling their story in a relaxed and playful style. They also have some great ideas about the food industry. Henry and Nick very kindly offered to answer our questions and share their experiences so far.
In The Buff makes ketchup, but not any ordinary ketchup. What makes yours different?
Ours is the first to be high in plant-based protein. From the outset we wanted to create a 'super-sauce' that only contained ingredients that are beneficial to your body. In The Buff ketchups are also low in sugar, contain no nasty additives, preservatives, colours or flavourings and are gluten-free and vegan friendly. We are acutely aware though, that food products still need to deliver on great taste, otherwise it would be a non-starter. We learnt from new trends coming out in this space, and felt because our proposition is so different, our flavours and texture had to be too. We wanted to truly deliver 'REAL DIFFERENTIATION' within the condiment sector, rather than product evolution.
Your product is unusually innovative in an industry that is well established. How did you come up with the idea?
Henry has always been a 'foodie' and is the cook in his house, to ensure that he, his wife and kids fuel their bodies with the best food possible. He was thinking ahead about what to eat for lunch when it struck him that he should probably lay off covering his healthy food with sauces that are high in sugar, salt and a whole lot worse - just for the sake of adding flavour and moisture. Why can't condiments also add healthy benefits?
Tell us how your idea went from an idea to a physical product.
Henry spent countless hours in his home kitchen, up into the small hours, playing around with ingredients, flavour combinations and recipes. Many different initial versions of the ketchups were produced and sampled with Nick and a select few 'constructive' family and friends. It then became apparent that we should take the next step and finalise the initial recipe with the help of a professional development kitchen. This cost what little early funding we had, but was vital to ensure that the best formula was created and to analyse the levels of protein, sugar, salt, etc that we were striving to achieve. How has In The Buff grown since you founded it?
We are still a nimble start-up, now with the assistance of a part-time financial director. Nick is the driving force of the business and has secured key listings with some major players and the future looks bright! We have developed and launched two further flavours (with others also in the pipeline), bringing the range to three: Sweet Paprika, Turmeric Fusion and Chipotle Spice. What have been some of your biggest challenges in growing In The Buff?
Finding the best production facility was a huge challenge, and had us travelling the length of the country to try and find the right people that could help create our product with us. There is a lot going on with our ingredients and how specifically we produce our ketchup's, and to ensure we could achieve this without relying on shortcuts of adding lots of nasties to it. We have learnt a huge amount in this process and also made some really powerful contacts in the food industry as a result. What have you found to be the most effective way of spreading the word about your products?
Social media has been a strong platform, and one that, if done right can provide great awareness at little or no cost. We have also entered various awards to help spread the word and secured an early article in The Grocer at the time of launch, as well as being featured in a brilliant Mintel whitepaper about the future of condiments.
Imagine it's 2024, what's happened to In The Buff?
If all goes to plan we will have taken over the UK, Europe and beyond! We want be known as the Healthy Food brand of choice, and found in everyone's kitchen cupboard, office drawer, on every dining table and used in kitchens around the globe. And that's just our ketchups! We have lots of ideas for other products, but as great chefs, we won't be giving our recipe for success out that easily :) As someone who has succeeded in creating an innovative and disruptive product, what advice do you have for any budding entrepreneurs trying to do the same?
Don't. Give. Up. A lot of people have brilliant ideas, but the thought of actually turning them into a real product scares them away from ever properly pursuing it. We all have responsibilities and fears, but Richard Branson's advice of 'Screw it, just do it' is definitely something that we both get behind. Do loads of research and 'listen' to others. You don't have to do everything they say, but spend the time to take on the points being shared. There might just be a nugget in there, and its usually free, and finally reach out to other entrepreneurs, who by their very nature are usually willing to have a cup of coffee to discuss your idea. These days, you can create your own brand as a 'side hustle' while still committing to your family and a day job... if you are hungry enough for success - that's exactly what Henry & Nick started out doing. Your website and social media do an excellent job of telling your story. This is an area that many businesses find difficult. Why do you think that you connect so well with your audience?
Henry's digital background combined with Nick's marketing really helps here. Together they continue to research and develop In The Buff's social media presence to appeal to the right type of people who would love the products. One of our brand philosophies is to be fun and cheeky and to not take life too seriously, so we try to portray this with our brand name and our media messaging.
It's crazy, but great fun! No two days are the same and that is a good thing. We are always learning and fire fighting at the same time. Everyone says this and its true. The highs are amazing, but the lows are extremely tough, so one thing to finish on, this isn't for everyone. Resilience is a key attribute to have in this game. You don't have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great.