Growth Works’ advice helps AgriGrub fill their sales pipeline and plan 14 new jobs
The challenge: Expanding into a new market required stronger marketing skills and a concrete growth plan
Set up to combat climate change by reducing carbon emissions from food waste, AgriGrub have ambitious expansion plans. AgriGrub use food waste to grow Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL), which they sell (as live calci worms) to wild bird food distributors. BSFL can also be fed to livestock, while BSFL manure acts as a natural pesticide.
Expanding into the dried calci worm market is the next step in AgriGrub’s growth. But this requires a big leap in both scale and cost of production. Managing Director Joe Halstead explains:
“Producing dried calci worms takes a lot more processing, and even the smallest customers require a much larger scale. The margins are a lot tighter, as we’re competing with imports from China. So making the leap required is a huge challenge.”
Making the leap required is a huge challenge…
Currently, AgriGrub process 500kg of food waste daily, and supply 200kg of product to customers each month. They are currently setting up a new, larger processing facility.
“We’re aiming for a ten tonne daily waste intake by June 2022, to supply 15 tonnes of product a month. And then a further four-fold increase by the end of 2023.”
AgriGrub were confident they could achieve this scale-up. But to do so, they needed to present their business model and plans clearly and persuasively to potential investors and customers. Yet while very strong technically, the AgriGrub team had limited marketing and sales experience.
The solution: Honing their business growth strategy and boosting marketing skills
Joe first began working with Growth Works in March 2021, receiving 1-to-1 support from Growth Adviser, Stephen. AgriGrub participated in the Growth Accelerator programme, and attended a webinar series on marketing and sales. Joe found the whole experience “so easy, so straightforward.”
“Getting our growth strategy nailed down helped trigger conversations with potential investors,” Joe recalls. “And it meant we could get the company finances and financial projections for the next two years really robust.”
“It’s so useful getting multiple views on your business model and how to communicate it. Our business plan made great sense to us, but I can’t view it with fresh eyes. So talking to the Growth Works Adviser about it was really valuable: seeing how it was received, what they did and didn’t understand straight away. It was like a dress rehearsal for going to talk to potential investors, and helped us iron out all the details.”
Having access to funding is critical for us…
AgriGrub are now preparing to apply for funding via Growth Works, to help buy drying machinery so they can significantly ramp up production.
“We need dryers to produce the product, to sell the product, to make the money to pay off the dryers – it’s a bit chicken and egg. And as a small company in a slightly unusual sector, we can’t really access traditional forms of business finance. Or not without incurring punitive interest rates. So having access to this kind of funding is critical for us.”
The outcome: A full sales pipeline, 50% more staff, and 14 new jobs planned
Applying what he learned with Growth Works, Joe changed the way he presents AgriGrub’s products and pricing. Now, he’s winning more business with less haggling, and has customers on a waiting list for when AgriGrub’s production capacity increases.
“The way we put across our pricing and other aspects of the business to new customers gives them a huge amount of confidence we can deliver. Before, I had customers lined up for just 500kg a month of product, who were really trying to beat me down on pricing. Now, we have customers lined up for 80 tonnes a month, and all accepting the pricing straight away. It’s transformative.”
The AgriGrub team will soon have grown 50% since working with Growth Works, from four to six people. Once the new processing site is running at full capacity, Joe anticipates needing a team of 20. “So that’s another 14 new jobs by the end of 2023.”
All AgriGrub staff are excited to be entering a growth phase. “It’s been brilliant for our staff, a great motivator. They’re getting to do much more interesting things and we’re set to make a much bigger impact on the environment, which is why we’re all doing this.”
Joe credits Growth Works with helping to accelerate AgriGrub’s expansion. AgriGrub also have exciting plans to launch other BSFL products.
“Without Growth Works’ support, potentially we’d still be bumbling along in an R&D phase, not making the move to the new site and the scale-up. And growing a lot more slowly. Growth Works has been really useful in all sorts of ways to help us make the leap.”
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