What do Dragon’s Den, artisanal pasta, serendipity and £11m of sales all have in common? They are all part of the success story that is Pasta Evangelists.
Co-founded by Finn Lagun, this innovative fresh pasta subscription model has grown from strength to strength and was recently taken-over by the Italian Barilla Group described as “a triumph for British entrepreneurship” by Sky News.
Hosted by Imperial's Marketing Professional Interest Network, Finn spoke to an audience of alumni and students about the secret to the company’s success including the importance of customer acquisition, taking opportunities when they arise and the key to a strong retention strategy.
Explaining the concept behind the business, Finn discussed how they were “trying to do something which hasn’t been done before with pasta, and bring fresh premium pasta to a wider audience”.
And how did it all come about? Finn explained it all came down to serendipity. Despite his role at a very big corporate organisation, Finn found himself looking for something which gave him more job satisfaction and the ability to make a tangible impact. Three weeks later on a Friday in a juice bar in London, he met his co-founder, and by Monday Pasta Evangelists was born!
We engage with our customers and they are part of the marketing, we leverage our customer base as much as we can.
As with any new startup there are failures, and disappointments, but Finn outlines his three key successes in marketing which has helped to grow the company so quickly:
- The clue is in the name: Evangelists! One of the things they focus on is getting to know their customer, making them real advocates for the brand, helping to spread the word to family and friends, and being passionate about the products. “We engage with our customers and they are part of the marketing, we leverage our customer base as much as we can.”
- Seize opportunities. Early on Pasta Evangelists were approached to launch a concession in Harrods. Despite the fact this was something they had never done before, they knew the opportunity was too good to pass up. Similarly they had the chance to appear on the BBC TV programme Dragon’s Den. And in Finn’s own words 'we weren’t ‘ready for it and it was brutal’! But at the same time they knew it was something that would build their confidence and brand exposure.
- Ensure you have a minimal viable product. Finn advocates not waiting and waiting until something is perfect, but instead, if you have something you can run with, launch it first and work on improving it later. “Get to 90% quickly, rather than waiting a life time to get to 100%.”
Watch the full interview to learn more about their growth plans, the takeover of the business by the biggest pasta company in the world and what a day in the life of a CMO is really like!
The video is hosted on our alumni platform Plexus (login required). Our thanks to Tess Douek (Msc Management 2007) Head of B2B Events Marketing, Future Plc and member of the Marketing committee, for chairing the discussion.
Finn leads the Pasta Evangelists marketing, brand and e-commerce teams, and has overseen expansion in sales at the company from £69,000 in 2017, when the company started trading, to almost £11m in 2021. He previously worked at Amazon and Zipjet, an on-demand laundry venture by Rocket Internet, the Berlin-based startup incubator.