Old Street's Success Stories
24 Apr 2016
In April 2014, we introduced a curated selection of London’s newest start-ups to Old Street station, from electric bikes to gourmet marshmallows. Many of them had just launched their business and were putting their ideas out there for the first time. 2 years later, we caught up with the founders to find out what happened next.
Fully Charged: Evolution of the electric revolution
When Ben Jaconelli launched Fully Charged in Old Street Station, many questioned the logic behind putting an electric bike shop in the Underground. But Ben had that exact audience in mind, “we’re not targeting cyclists with our electric bikes, we’re targeting tube takers and people who drive cars to work. Our message is there’s no need to arrive sweating or struggle with a commute. Fully Charged is about creating an effective way for modern city dwellers to live.” As it turns out, a tube strike during their pop-up ended up being their best day for business.
By launching the Old Street pop-up, Ben was able to quickly understand what Fully Charged was about and where they needed to go. “Once we’d done one pop-up we realised we actually needed a permanent space, which our customers could come back to,” he noted.
Fully Charged now has two permanent spaces: a service centre in Shoredtich and a showroom in Bermondsey. The turning point for the business came in 2015, when Fully Charged partnered with Formula E – electric's answer to Formula One – to supply their bikes, “that’s when people started to take us seriously,” Ben added.
Since 2014, Fully Charged has doubled its team and increased its turnover from £200,000 to over £1 million this year. Ben’s sights are now set on raising more investment and moving into a larger showroom featuring electric cars and bikes. But ultimately, the big mission for Ben, “is making cities better places to live.”
Spoon Cereals: The Dragon’s preferred cereal
“When we first went into Old Street station, we were at a crossroads” Annie Morris, co-founder of Spoon Cereal remembers. “The original idea was to have our own site, so we really wanted to test out a granola cafe in a station. However, what ended up happening in Old Street was our granola boxes kept selling out. It made us realise that was the better business angle.”
During their pop-up, Annie and her co-founder Jonny also went to pitch to Dragon’s Den. Using the insights they’d learnt from Old Street they were able to present their business case. “The market research we got was invaluable and we ended up replicating the pop-up in the studio,” Annie says. They also ended up walking away with £50K of investment.
Back then, Annie and Jonny were still making the granola in their kitchen – with the help of their mums. However, once the show aired the demand went crazy. They realised they were going to need to scale fast. Annie notes, “we spent 6 months looking for the right producer and developing the product with a manufacturer. We relaunched in July 2015 with breakfast festival and partnered with other like-minded fashion, fitness and food brands. It helped position us as a lifestyle brand, not just a granola business.”
By the end of 2015, they were ready for the big guys and launched in Sainsbury’s. Spoon Cereal's is now stocked in over 200 stores across the UK, which will increase to 450 by the end of the year. Next on the menu are new flavours, launching in another major retailer and releasing a new cookbook.
PRESS London: Living the juice life
Ed Foy and Georgie Reames were determined to introduce the cold-pressed juices they’d come to love whilst living in LA to London, which they realised was lagging behind on the wellness scene. They chose Old Street station to launch in, instaling a chic green bathtub in a space which a couple of weeks earlier was TfL’s designated broom cupboard.
Selling out of juice every morning made them realise they were onto something. From there, demand kept growing. PRESS now have 3 permanent juice bars in Soho, Broadgate and St Pauls. Plus a string of juice concessions in some of London’s coolest destinations, from Chiltern Firehouse to the Mondrian Hotel. They’ve even returned last year to where it all began in Old Street station.
PRESS's vision is to be “the world’s most health-centric lifestyle company; to build places, both physical and digital, that people can come discover, learn and engage with their health.” With a rebranded website, growing team and a new range of flavours on the way, 2016 marks a new chapter.
Mallow & Marsh: Revolutionising the marshmallow industry
Harriot Pleydell-Bouverie founded Mallow & Marsh in 2013 and trialled her first pop-up in Old Street station to raise the brand’s profile. “Old Street’s been great for visibility,” Harriot notes, “more people remember us from Old Street than from Dragon’s Den," which Harriot went on a few weeks before Spoon Cereals. As a result, she has now returned 3 times to the station.
However, it hasn't been a completely smooth ride. The biggest challenge over the last 2 years was sorting out the manufacturing. The infrastructure to manufacture her marshmallow bars just didn’t exist. So Harriot had to start from scratch: finding and working with a factory to build the right manufacturing. Mallow & Marsh now has the ability to make a tonne of marshmallows a day.
Harriet’s now ramping up operations. Mallow & Marsh is stocked in 100’s of stores across the UK, including 250 Sainsbury’s, Wholefoods and Booths. Although she hasn’t set her sights on global domination yet, Mallow & Marsh by popular demand is stocked in Sweden, Amsterdam and the Americas, plus launching in Applegreen in Ireland.
But perhaps the most exciting new development is a new flavour. Two years in the making: a peanut and salted caramel marshmallow bar, the ultimate in indulgence.
To check out the Old Street spaces, click here.