Ella Rauen-Prestes is the founder and CEO of Fitbakes, a low sugar high protein bakery. Ella started the business from her kitchen table in 2017, and projecting 2019 annual sales of £170k.
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About the Business
- Based in Cheltenham in the UK
- Specializes in low sugar, high protein cakes
- Retail and subscription model
- Utilizes social media influencers
- Platform: Shopify
- Widgets: Bundle Builder, Loyalty Lion and Subscriptions by Bold
An Inspired Idea
Hailing from food loving Brazil, Ella is a big time sweets fan and self proclaimed cake-aholic. When her Telecom career landed her in the UK, she was bowled over by the number of her friends who had a guilt laden relationship with sweets.
Not one to be deterred, Ella set out to build a solution. She says “There was no way I was settling for a life that didn’t involve enjoying cake and coffee with the girls, so I rolled up my sleeves to find an answer to the problem.”
About the Company
The growth of Fitbakes is testament to the power of a simple product done well. With 4 bite sized cakes in every package, Ella has kept things simple by keeping the price point the same for all of the products—which currently comes in 10 flavors.
Shoppers can browse by dietary need and the team has developed a mix of cakes that work for people with a variety of dietary parameters including diabetic friendly, slimming friendly, vegetarian, vegan, high protein and low sugar.
Deciding on eCommerce
The original vision for Fitbakes wasn’t an online company at all. When Ella was considering launching the bakery she didn’t have a lot of start-up resources so she turned to an online platform as a way to quickly get products to market quickly and test them with real customers.
A true bootstrapper, Ella built the Shopify website herself and started selling out of her kitchen. To her surprise, the online platform was a great way to sell the product and she shifted gears and began focusing on online sales. Besides providing a direct line to customers, online sales allowed Fitbakes to focus on the direct to consumer space, keeping margins high and creating immediately available cash flow.
Listen to learn how choosing online over wholesale allowed Fitbakes to keep their margins high and maximize cash flow.
A special challenge for any independent online food business is shipping. Because Fitbakes come in small packages, it’s crucial that customers are incentivized to buy in bundles.
In order to offer free shipping, Fitbakes requests that customers buy 10 packs minimum and they offer special pick and mix boxes to encourage customers to buy in larger bulk. When Ella started the company she was often running to the post office on her lunch break to get fresh orders in the mail. In the future, Fitbakes hopes to partner with a larger factory who can help negotiate better shipping rates and processes for the company.
In 2018 Ella quit her job to work at Fitbakes full time. Today Fitbakes employs 5 people besides Ella and her husband—one head baker and three assistant bakers as well as a social media assistant. Ella’s husband helps on a part time basis with sales, but everything else in the business relies on her. For marketing and PR, they work with an outside consultant.
In the future, Ella would like to outsource the entire Fitbakes production process to a larger factory. Besides offering more and better growth opportunities, large production factories have their own distribution channels. They also have the resources for certifications that small companies aren’t typically able to qualify for in semi-professional kitchens like the one Fitbakes currently runs from.
An example is providing food to airlines, something Ella says they wouldn’t be able to get certified for without the help of a larger factory. Another benefit is the optimized shipping processes, something that can help Fitbakes grow to max potential.
Focusing on Instagram
Social media is the primary driver for Fitbake’s sales. In fact, 80% of the company’s sales comes from Instagram, and Ella says that looking good on that platform drives a lot of her decisions.
Besides advertising and community building, she also regularly uses social media as an informal polling platform. Whenever there is a problem or the team needs to decide which direction to go with a product, they will often turn to Instagram and ask their customers directly.
Listen to learn how focusing on one social media platform can inform different business needs, from research and development to branding and sales.
Fitbakes works with over 700 influencers. As part of the Fitbakes community, these influencers don’t get paid in cash, but rather receive free products in exchange for honest reviews. Ella says that it’s been a great way to build relationships and grow their community.
Far from random, the team carefully tracks return from each influencer relationship and continues or doesn’t continue engaging with them based on their success. The company asks influencers who have good returns to get more engaged and act as Fitbakes ambassadors.
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eCommerce Book Top Tip
Currently favoring podcasts over books. Some of Ella’s favorites are:
eCommerce Traffic Top Tip
- Use influencers!
Tool Top Tip
Growth Top Tip
- If you aren’t already, get on Instagram and learn how to do Facebook and Instagram ads well.
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