Led by military-family member and Sports Science & Nutritionist, Harry Noel-Smith, Kinetic Kitchen has gone through somewhat of a transformation over the course of 2020 and 2021. They have grown a vast and loyal customer-base, providing health and performance-oriented food products direct to consumer, catering to specific diets such as keto, paleo, vegan and gluten free.
The self-proclaimed “eco-warriors” are doing their bit for the world and society, through sustainable sourcing, responsible packaging and donating 1% of their profits to an environmental cause. A shining example of one of many armed forces-led businesses committed to giving back to society as a whole.
The founder and owner, Harry Noel-Smith, comes from a family with its roots firmly in the military world, with his Dad, grandad and uncles all serving in the forces.
Myself, my Dad and my brother took on a challenge to cycle from London to Africa and back. Throughout this journey we transformed our bodies through training, but more to the point through diet. However, when training around Bristol and Bath, we found that there wasn’t anything that could suit our dietary needs. So, I saw a gap in the market, and I wanted to challenge it and give it a go.
“We initially applied for a £10,000 Start Up Loan, which was used to buy the coffee truck; to convert it and to get that up and running for me to start selling doughnuts and coffees on the side. This year we’ll be looking to get a second loan!”
The last fifteen months has been a challenge for thousands of businesses across the UK. The moment the first lockdown hit, Harry was forced to flip Kinetic Kitchen’s business model on its head:
“The first business model centered around making all of my money from the coffee truck. On March 23rd Boris told everyone to shut up shop. My main revenue source was gone, so I had to pivot and completely change the way I saw Kinetic Kitchen working. Within a three-day period, I had completely reconstructed the way people saw the business – it was now a fully online, e-commerce business. We were now suddenly sending doughnuts to people all over the UK. A year into this journey, I’m getting more experience to be able to make key decisions. How can you go from someone that’s doing a little bit of sales selling a few doughnuts to selling thousands of doughnuts every single week and also managing a team? It’s been quite a journey.”
For many business owners, their business model may look nothing like it did pre-COVID-19, and may never operate in the same way again. Looking to the future, Harry spoke of his plans to stick with the new direct to consumer model but also shared his own roadmap into retail and the high street:
“It’s great to have built this incredible connection that we have with all of our customers – we’ve got over 10,000 active customers who come to us for products, information, advice, or just to chat as well.”
“We’re going to have to start attacking retail, because people aren’t going to be in front of their laptops as often, and that’s how this business has grown. During lockdown people just stay inside and are in front of screens with information right in front of them rather than impulse buying on the high street. I want to start tapping into the London market which will happen this year.”
Receiving a Start Up Loan is only the beginning of the wrap-around support we offer to business owners and those looking into self-employment. We have a wide variety of free mentoring, training, and networking opportunities to ensure you reach the next level in your business journey. Harry recalls:
“When I had the first loan come through, I used XFE’s mentoring system. Just being able to go to them for advice when I was setting up was incredibly valuable for me. I also went to a Business meet-up in November 2019, around how to secure and sustain a start-up business. It was so valuable, the networking was really good and I actually got a Non-Exec Director from that meeting who came and helped me for a few months. That all originated from the XFE Business meet up.”
“The last 15 months has been one of the most challenging periods of time for the SME community, and to see how quickly Harry pivoted his business, adapted to the circumstances and made a success of Kinetic Kitchen at such an early time into its inception speaks volumes about the resilience and tenacity of our military community.”
Listen to the full conversation here:
X-Forces Enterprise (XFE) is an award-winning Community Interest Company that nurtures entrepreneurial ambition in the UK military community, official delivery partner to the government’s Start Up Loans Company and MoD’s Career Transition Partnership. XFE supports Service leavers, veterans, spouses, cadets and Armed Forces family members to start their own businesses with a full package of training, finance, networking and mentoring. Start your journey by registering today here.