Sam Martin is the CEO and co-founder of Peckwater Brands, a scaleup that creates virtual food brands for kitchen operators.
Martin founded Peckwater Brands with Leo Bradshaw in 2019. It creates virtual food franchises, including menus, that it licenses to restaurants and businesses with the kitchen capacity to prepare additional meals for delivery. Its virtual brands are available on delivery aggregators such as Deliveroo and Just Eat.
The London-based company secured £15m in Series A funding in 2022. Prior to that it raised £3m in seed funding in 2021. It has been bolstered by a growing appetite among consumers for online food delivery services, particularly during the pandemic. This recently led to Peckwater acquiring German food delivery company Eatclever to fuel its expansion.
In this week’s Founder in Five Q&A, Martin talks about prioritising organic growth, the importance of startups investing in an experienced leadership team, and why data shouldn’t be a dirty word for businesses.
1. What funding advice would you give to a first-time founder?
Sam Martin: Overall, I would recommend that you never overly rely on investor funding and set out to build a sustainable business from the beginning. Right at the start of PWB, we prioritised organic growth through partnerships, helping our clients to increase their revenues and operate as efficiently as possible, while building a sustainable foundation from which to grow and scale.
While external finance can help a startup to achieve this, dependence on investment can become a weakness if that investment were to suddenly dry up –for instance, due to a sudden recession. Being self-reliant and building a business model that is sustainable, responsible and forward-thinking are more important.
2. What’s a common mistake that you see founders make?
SM: Failing to surround yourself with the right people – in other words, neglecting to build a strong senior leadership team. Often, founders are tempted to keep costs down by hiring inexperienced leaders who, no matter how ambitious and talented, lack the know-how and insight to make the right decisions.
To make the leap from startup to an established business, you need to have the right people on board. Investing in experienced leaders who embody the company’s values, know how to manage people and understand the sector has been instrumental in our growth and development and underpins where we are today.
3. In another life you’d be?
SM: Most likely a restauranteur! A real highlight of the past three years has been developing new menus for our partners to implement as part of their kitchen operations, and it would be a thrill to be on the floor preparing those dishes myself.
Understanding what people want and creating dishes and menus that resonate with consumers is such an important part of what we do, and I imagine that being in the thick of it myself would be rewarding. I have so much respect for the fantastic work hospitality professionals do every day, and I hope that the work we do is making their lives easier.
4. Excluding your own, what’s a sector that’s ripe for disruption?
SM: I would say edtech. When compared to businesses across the tech spectrum, the level of investment does not match the importance and impact of the work they are doing. Young and old, education influences the world around us, and I believe that technologies like AI and upskilling platforms could do untold good – it just needs innovation and funding to make waves.
Granted, the sector is extremely complex to operate in and challenging for outsiders to fully understand, but there is still plenty of opportunity for disruption – I hope we see more soon.
5. What’s the most misunderstood technology?
SM: Undoubtedly data. The news is plastered with horror stories of private data breaches and protection issues, which paints the topic in a negative light. In truth, quality data is gold dust, particularly for businesses, and when properly harnessed it can have a transformative impact on customer experience.
With comprehensive and insightful analysis, data has the capacity to streamline almost all areas of a business’ operations, from revealing invaluable customer insights that enhance marketing to enabling optimised business flows that increase efficiency and save businesses money. Our platform is built on data, and I see the good it does every day.
Founder in Five – a UKTN Q&A series with the entrepreneurs behind the UK’s innovative tech startups, scaleups and unicorns – is published every Friday.