Our interviewee today is Natasha Rajput, the founder of T’s Fried Scoop, a newly launched fried ice cream business in London.
Natasha has been working to create London’s next dessert trend over the last year and was able to launch her business in July, straight after Lockdown.
Read on to find out more about Natasha’s entrepreneurial journey.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND THE BUSINESS YOU STARTED.
Background prior to my business:
I had lots of business ideas during University, but I was told that so many of them wouldn’t work! Funnily enough, some of the ideas have now been done by other businesses and are majorly successful! I was studying History at the time but I knew I didn’t want to be working in an office.
I always wanted to be in the food industry because I liked the busy atmosphere, and I had relatives who ran restaurants in the US. But, I also wanted to make money to pay off my loan on a car I took out to travel back and forward to uni. My first job was with a healthy crisps start-up company. I was a field executive and I loved it. I loved it because I was out and about, using my personality to sell the products. I then moved onto another start-up company but was only there for 3 months, as it was male-dominated and I felt as if I didn’t belong there.
A couple of months later, I ended up working for a cookie dough company. I loved it because I was selling again, but I still felt I could be doing more! I always believed that there was a problem with the companies/jobs that I was working with, but it was me, I was the problem. I wasn’t meant for sitting at a laptop and working for someone else. My boyfriend advised me to go and do what I wanted to do, so I was mutually let go of from the company but I’m still on very good terms with the owner!
T’s Fried Scoop sells deep fried ice-cream! Imagine a sizzling hot, fried crust wrapped around cold decadent ice cream. Flavours include: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, matcha and other seasonal flavours such as bubblegum, black coconut and more! We don’t have a specific target audience, as it’s for anyone! Whether people like the business because they like cute branding, desserts, or if they’re just the type of person who loves trying new and wild creations!
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE AND HOW DO YOU STAY PRODUCTIVE?
I absolutely love being active, so I go to the gym 5x a week whilst running the business. On a Saturday I set up the stall at 9.45 am by carrying a chest freezer down the stairs and taking it to my stall. Then I decorate the area and that’s when I begin to draw people into the stall, trying to convince them to buy a fried ice-cream! It can be very challenging, as not many people know about my product yet and the reactions I mostly receive are “What? Fried ice-cream? How does that even work?” This makes it even harder, as I can’t give out samples because it’s hard to get a taste of the full experience in a bite-size amount! So I really have to use my sales skills to get people to buy it and spend their money.
After 6 pm, I pack up the stall and travel back home via the underground to make my way to the gym for training. Then I wake up at 7.30 am on a Sunday, set up, repeat the process and unpack everything at my house! Tuesday to Thursday I spend time in my shed deep cleaning, prepping my fried ice-cream and going to the gym. Mondays are for admin as I do all my own accounts, stock takes, sales figures and other things – and gym of course! Then, Fridays are for resting.
THE JOURNEY SO FAR
PLEASE DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF LAUNCHING YOUR BUSINESS.
After deciding that I wanted to go into the food business and discovering a Mexican version of “fried” ice-cream, I took the risk of setting up my own version of fried ice-cream. Whilst testing my creations, I registered my company in December 2019. I came up with lots of names, such as Frying Scoop, Natasha’s Fried ice-cream, ScoopFry, but I didn’t like any of them. I didn’t want to just focus on fried ice-cream, as I have other future plans with my fryer… I eventually came up with T’s Fried Scoop. As my name is Natasha, some people call me Tasha and my relatives call me T. I made it simple and hid my name but still have it there because it gives the name a personal touch: T’s Fried Scoop.
The idea for my business was influenced by Mexican, Indian and Japanese cultures, with my own twists on it. So I started from scratch.
I thought I needed less than £1000 at the start but I was totally wrong! I couldn’t use my own house kitchen, as my mum was always cooking and I didn’t want to rent kitchen space, because I knew the payments would be expensive. So I spent £300 on buying a shed, then £550 when I hired the wrong contractor! This meant I had to spend another £500 on getting the right people to build my shed kitchen. Then I needed money for ingredients, licensing, food certificates, hiring a freelance graphic designer to bring my vision to life, buying 2 chest freezers, pat testing, fire retardant materials, money for rent and staff!
So, around £10,000 was needed to start, in order to pay for my mistakes I made in the beginning, for future rent, wages and to keep myself alive! All this money was borrowed from my parents and their pension fund, as well as joining universal credit to help pay for the electric bill and my personal expenses.
I had no partners, but I had amazing help from my family and boyfriend, who helped me with prep, finances and my very first day in the market. I hired my graphic designer, who is a Uni graduate, I trust her with my whole vision! The only professionals I have hired during this time are my PR company, GOHO. I’m still learning as I go but I’ve really valued all the feedback I’ve received since I began this venture. After trading for 6 weeks, my feedback has been wonderful!
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT AND YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE SINCE YOU STARTED YOUR BUSINESS?
I am so proud of what I’ve accomplished so far! Ultimately, I’m proud of creating something that is totally new and unique to the market. I feel my biggest achievement is that I’m now doing what I told people I would do. My biggest two challenges have been finances and mentally reassuring myself to stay positive. I had a lot of fear about failure in the back of my mind, but I’ve pushed it away and reminded myself, it has to work or I will make it work!
WHAT STRATEGY DID YOU USE TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS? AND HOW?
So far, I have set up short term (1 year), mid term (2 -3 years) and long term goals (5 years +). E.g. Short term – get into a market and focus on branding and a new concept,
Mid term – Have multiple pop-up’s, be in many markets and release merchandise,
Long term – set up a shop in Oxford Street, Dubai and in Birmingham and start exporting my merch globally.
The only marketing technique I have used is Instagram. I messaged numerous foodies around London to come down and try a free fried ice-cream, in return for a mention in their feed or stories. I really sold the idea of my product being something new, that shouldn’t work together, but does. I also put a lot of my ice-cream characters out there, promoting the ‘cute’ aspect of the brand as I have handmade plushies created for each character. In the future, I would like to sell these large plush toys, so when people buy the plush toy, they know it’s T’s Fried Scoop.
I constantly test different flavours of ice-cream and coatings, to see what will work and what doesn’t. For example, as much as I love cookie dough ice-cream, it doesn’t work. The aim is to let people have 1 portion only, that satisfies them but does not make them feel sickly. So, I needed to get the right balance of sweet. I have planned out the new flavours/coating until 2022, with black coconut being launched in October 2020.
I also always make sure the customer is happy, for example, if they were not satisfied with their choice, I make them another one for free. This is because I believe you should enjoy your food and if you paid for something you don’t enjoy, you’re not likely to come back. So, to get people to return, I give them something different to what they had ordered, to ensure they enjoy it! I have got ideas of what else I’m going to scoop and fry. After doing some research, I found that my second idea has not yet reached London either…
WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS?
I’m so happy with how my business is doing right now. We only opened in July and I’m so proud of our growth already, especially during times like this! In the short term, my next goal is to get an ice cream machine so that I can start producing my own ice cream. I’ve got so many ideas for flavours so I’d love to have a special T’s Fried Scoop ice cream recipe. The machines are unfortunately quite expensive, so this will be the next big step in the foreseeable future.
If we’re thinking long term, my real goal is to be able to establish pop-ups in the biggest cities around the UK. I’d love to have pop-up venues around the country, so if people are craving a really rich treat then they know they’ll be able to find it. I love the idea of people grabbing a T’s Scoop on the go, which is why it works so well as a popup idea! I also create special merchandise of T’s Fried Scoop toys and gifts, so it would be fantastic to be able to see this part of the business to expand in the future.
RECOMMENDATIONS & FINAL THOUGHTS
ARE THERE ANY RESOURCES OR TOOLS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHERS THAT HAVE HELPED YOU RUN YOUR BUSINESS?
For the moment, my main resource is definitely social media. I use HootSuite so that I can plan all of my posts two weeks in advance, to keep my brand and the ice cream at the front of people’s minds! When I started the business in July, I had about 20 followers, now I’m at 400 within a couple of months. I focus on Instagram because it’s a great way to interact with people and find other foodies!
Influencers have also been a really valuable tool. I began messaging London food influencers on Instagram, inviting them to come down to the store to try the ice cream! I’ve had such lovely feedback and so many great people have now featured me on their platforms. One comedian even travelled all the way from Bristol to try the ice cream! That was a bit of a high point. Another massive resource I use is Excel. It’s so great as I’ve been able to monitor my sales manually over the last couple of months.
WHAT OR WHO HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST INFLUENCE IN BUSINESS AND WHY?
I don’t necessarily have one main influence in my life but the main thing that drives me is the amazing people around me. My friends and family are all so driven, which influences me to go further with my business. I have one friend who is a life coach and she runs marathons, so the people around me definitely fuel my drive to work hard and put my all into the business!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER WOMEN WHO WANT TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
As Nike says, just do it! That’s the best advice I could give to any woman who is looking to start her own business. Even if you think you could fail, just go with it and try your best. I’ve definitely learnt that If you have a gut feeling about something, then you should go with it. Starting my business has also made me realise that you should always do what you want to do. Especially when you’re starting your own business!
It’s also so important to take the help that you need. It’s so wrong when people feel embarrassed to ask, so don’t ever feel like you can’t ask for help. For the same reasons, don’t try and do anything all on your own if you don’t have to. It’s always so much better to get a second opinion on something but ultimately, go with your gut and don’t hold back.
WHAT BUSINESS IDEA DO YOU HAVE THAT YOU ARE WILLING TO SHARE WITH OTHERS?
I would have absolutely loved a beginner’s guide to being a food vendor! When I first started the business, I spent so much time Googling how traders set up a business for the first time. All the information is out there but it’s just so messy, it should be all in one place. When I first started, I ended up spending unnecessary money because I had to test out which products work out the best! So I think a checklist for starting out as a food vendor would be perfect.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
If any women are looking to set up their own food stall or are thinking about making their own recipes, I would definitely say ALWAYS try and test your food. I learnt that the hard way. You should test every batch of food you make, especially before you serve people. I found that out on my opening day when I had the wrong freezer temperature!
Welcome to the Biz Ladies interview series!
If you’re new to these series, I interview women entrepreneurs on how they started their business, what was the idea behind it, how they got where they are, the struggles, the reality and more.
By sharing their stories, we want to inspire other women to get started.
If you are interested to share your own story on the Biz Ladies LET ME KNOW!