In today’s Behind the Biz interview I’m chatting with Meenesh Mistry, co-founder of Wholey Moly – honestly good cookies, made from 100% natural ingredients, zero refined sugars and vegan friendly, because healthy doesn’t have to be boring.
As soon as I saw the branding of Wholey Moly cookies I knew I needed to find out more.
I’m a sucker for good branding and the fact they create healthy, dairy-free and delicious biscuits was a massive bonus. The business was founded by husband and wife duo, Meenesh and Parul. They wanted to put an end to the 3pm energy slump we all know so well. Normally that slump is greeted with endless sugary short-term fixes but with Wholey Moly there is finally a much healthier option.
Read on to find out all about the Wholey Moly business journey.
Please share an overview of Wholey Moly with us
In truth the UK biscuits aisle has needed a significant overhaul for some while! Biscuits are the ultimate permissible snack, a self-contained timeout treat that can be consumed on-the-go or behind a desk in tandem with a beverage or on its own, providing a small yet perfectly proportioned energy boost or feel-good respite that makes any day a little happier.
Biscuits remain pivotal to our island’s snacking psyche, a trusted a pillar of British snacking appreciation. Whilst it’s certainly fair to point out that today 1 in 4 biscuits are bought for their ‘healthier living’ assurances, the simple reality is that most biscuits are still bought as an indulgent, timeout treat even though there’s no reason whatsoever why biscuits couldn’t be jam-packed with beneficial ingredients that taste great and do good?
Wholey Moly turns traditional biscuit thinking on its head courtesy of a deliciously distinct stance which ensures that these moreish, plant-based cookies remain fully focused on providing sublime flavours whilst offering a gluten-free, high-in-fibre format that contains 50% less sugar that their ‘everyday’ biscuit peers whilst never resorting to refined sugar.
What led you to set up Wholey Moly?
Wholey Moly came about as a result of the ongoing frustration Parul (my wife) and I felt working in our respective corporate environments where the inevitable 3pm energy slump was lazily tackled by the usual array of addictive, sugary quick fixes that provided only the briefest respite from energy lows and nothing in the shape of meaningful flavour. We could never understand why no-one had considered creating biscuits that wowed taste buds whilst delivering nutritional benefits. We always believed biscuits had the capacity to quell hunger in a positive way, hence our strapline ‘feeding the craving without misbehaving.
Too many so-called healthier treats were packed with indifferent ingredients and unwelcome nasties. We knew this was the moment to step up to the mixing bowl
How do you decide upon new flavours?
Amazing tastes and real ingredients offering ‘good nutrition’ are the only pre-requisites. We try to keep our recipes simple with a small number of worthwhile ingredients. We have no time whatsoever for lazy, freeloading ingredients that don’t pull their weight.
What did you and Parul do before founding Wholey Moly?
Meenesh: I was an accountant with 10+ years in finance
Parul: I was a business consultant specialising in organisational change for a number of the world’s best known bluechip operations
Did you always have a burning desire to be an entrepreneur?
We both believe that we had a strong grasp of what makes a successful business tick. It was just the small matter of finding a business opportunity we truly believed in
How did the COVID-19 lockdowns impact your business?
Lockdown made a massive difference because initially we were caught off guard on account of our sales being solely retail focused. Lockdown came at the precise moment we were about to scale-up within a number of national retailers. When these rollouts were mothballed in the short-term it dawned on us that we had neglected online
There was an upside as well as we had long craved some thinking time to revisit our recipes, website, packaging and messaging to check everything was aligned and the very best it could be. Our quest to be health-conscious meant that momentarily we lost our indulgent edge. Replacing cacao for chocolate and reducing the historically crumbly nature of our biscuits represented massive strides forward.
Please share a business high & low with us
Selfridges was our 1st major win of note that still feels like a pivotal moment for a brand, although being invited to 10 Downing Street as part of a small business owner delegation comes a very strong second as does forthcoming talks with Paul and The Department of International Trade.
An ill-conceived move to a now long forgotten, poor manufacturing partner caused us a lot of unnecessary grief in our formative years.
What advice would you share with aspiring entrepreneurs?
Pick a project that you’re truly passionate about as being an entrepreneur isn’t for the faint-hearted. There will be highs and lows and it will dominate large chunks of your life. Even during the low points (and there will be many) it’s essential) important that you never stop feeling like a proud parent as that’s what will get you over the line.
Also network like crazy because being a brand owner is a long lonely road at times.
I want to say a huge thank you to Meenesh for taking the time to answer our questions. I loved learning more about his journey with Wholey Moly and can’t wait to give the cookies a try. I’m excited to see the business grow in the coming years with vegan and allergen-friendly products on the rise.