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What should you look for in an investor?

Many a startup entrepreneur will consider this question at some point in their journey – and getting it wrong could make or break their business.

After virtual food brand company Peckwater Brands secured £15 million in Series A funding, we asked founders Sam Martin – who will become CEO – and new executive chair Leo Bradshaw for their approach.

“We scored every potential investment partner based on three criteria: opportunity, influence, and support,” they told TechBlast. 

“We worked hard to identify with them how they fit within this matrix and what a successful working relationship would look like with them, and went from there.”

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Founded in 2019, Peckwater Brands builds delivery-only food brands, driven by data-led customer insight, for restaurants up and down the country. The orders are cooked and delivered from existing kitchens alongside their day-to-day operations. 

The business operates a mix of licensed brands spanning several categories including chicken (Seoul Chikin, Flip the Bird, Wham Bam Wings, Katsu), burgers (Dukes, Proper Tasty) and have also run shared brands with partners such as Unilever, Buzzfeed and Heinz.

The Series A round follows a £3m seed round in October 2021 and brings the business’ post-money valuation to £65m.

Its latest funding round was supported by Stonegate Group, the UK’s largest pub company with around 4,500 sites nationwide. Stonegate has taken a minority stake in Peckwater, for an undisclosed sum, having trialled Peckwater Brands in some of its pubs. Stonegate is backed by TDR Capital – an investor in major household brands such as ASDA and David Lloyd.

Investors in this latest round also include SoftBank Investments (SBI), as well as follow-on investment from Peckwater’s previous backers Fuel Ventures and Pembroke VCT.

The firm plans to grow from 150+ sites to become the largest kitchen network in the UK while also expanding in the United States and Europe. It launched in Miami in early 2022 with sites in France and Belgium due to launch in the coming months.

“We think about success in three ways,” continued the founders. “UK growth: be the biggest digital brand operator in the UK.

“International growth: be live in 5x international markets… this means 3x cities with 3x sites in each.

“And SaaS evolution: we have a fantastic proof-of-concept but we believe that the full-stack build will be revolutionary for the sector, and it’s based on these plans that we secured much of our capital, so we need to deliver this.”

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Asked for the most crucial element to its growth to date, the founders said: “Our people – there’s nothing revolutionary about our business; when you break down our model to its absolute foundations, we’re making burgers. It’s the people that have joined us that have got us to where we are today – we owe everything to the team that supports Peckwater.”

They advise: “Build the team and the business around shared values – these allow the team to operate in a high-support, high-challenge environment that ultimately delivers growth.

“Focus on 1-2 core metrics and align the whole business behind these – after our seed round we went for GMV and international site count, and these got us to our Series A.

“Take time to celebrate your milestones – as a co-founder it’s easy to see every development as a springboard to ‘the next goal’, but sometimes – for you and the team – it’s important to step back and celebrate what you’ve achieved so far.”