Anna Mackenzie and Lucy Wright: Cuckoo
Ever wondered what it would be like to work with your childhood friend? Further, what it would be like to set up a company together fresh out of university?
My Little Black Book meets Cuckoo co-founders and BFFs, Anna Mackenzie and Lucy Wright, to find out just that…
My Little Black Book: You are childhood friends who have joined forces to create a new on-the-go Bircher muesli product, Cuckoo. Why did you decide to go into partnership?
Anna Mackenzie and Lucy Wright: Timing had a big role to play: we had just left university and were starting to think about work experience and career paths when we spotted a gap in the market for a fresh, delicious and wholesome on-the-go Bircher muesli.
We share a passion for good food and recognised an opportunity to cater to the growing demand for healthy, convenient options which fit into a demanding schedule. We wanted to create a fresh new on-the-go brand which was a treat for the taste-buds and for the body. Cuckoo was born as a result!
MyLBB: Cuckoo is branded as ‘The Modern Muesli’. Tell us how your product differs from your competitors?
AM & LW: Cuckoo combines tradition with pioneering flavour combinations and contrasting, complementary textures – no boring “diet food” here, just real food which tastes great and is good for you.
We started with favourite family recipes created by Anna’s mother and eventually developed the Cuckoo core range.
Every spoonful is varied and interesting with juicy berries, crunchy dark linseeds and swirls of fruity compote. Only the finest quality natural ingredients are used. From a range of five, including Elderflower & Cranberry, Choco Sour Cherry and Mango & Coconut, the on-the-go pots are designed to be enjoyed at any time: not just for breakfast.
Cuckoo is Bircher muesli with a fun, young and modern twist that reflects our taste for bold, interesting flavours.
MyLBB: Sounds delicious! You have just launched in Selfridges – congratulations! How did you manage to secure shelf space in such a renowned department store?
AM & LW: We first launched the product at Lunch! Trade Show in September 2013 and since then have been working hard following up with many of the buyers we met there.
The listing with Selfridges didn’t happen overnight and some of the details involved in taking our product from a beloved family recipe made at home to something which could be sold at a renowned department store were hard work to get right, but we got there in the end! We are so excited to be launching our full range exclusively into Selfridges.
MyLBB: We’re excited for you too! Now, tell us, how do you approach your partnership? Do you take ownership for different functions within the business?
AM & LW: We did all research and design together after coming up with the concept. We outsourced manufacturing after phoning most of the dairies in the UK and finally finding the right fit. We also outsourced packaging design to B+B Design after identifying some of our favourite food packaging and meeting with a few design agencies.
Although we have stressful times we still also have a good laugh and get on very well. We do have totally different strengths but we always pass things back and forth and both work hard and are very passionate about Cuckoo. We are lucky as we agree on practically everything and are often thinking the same thing at the same time.
MyLBB: You are an entrepreneurial pair, having started Cuckoo fresh from University. What is it like being young businesswomen in today’s corporate world?
AM & LW: It’s definitely a huge learning curve and we were lucky to meet some inspiring people in the industry while we were launching, who were happy to pass on advice. I think people are particularly receptive to young people who are taking on the challenge of starting their own business and are open-minded and willing to take on advice in the process.
The beginning was seriously scary, as we did not have a clue what we were doing, but we knew eventually we would get there.
We have been overwhelmed by the positive response to Cuckoo and are so excited to grow and develop the business. More and more people are becoming health-conscious and are rejecting traditional on-the-go options from large supermarkets. There is a demand for fresh, tasty, satisfying products and this market will only continue to grow.
MyLBB: Who is Cuckoo’s target audience? How are you reaching out to them?
AM & LW: While Cuckoo Bircher Muesli can be enjoyed by anyone, our main target is busy, health-conscious consumers who want a nourishing and delicious on-the-go snack for breakfast or other times of day.
Our convenient 190g single-serve pots are perfect for commuting or bringing into the office. Containing fewer than 300 calories, they are low-GI and a great source of fibre. They are also perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up or wholesome dessert.
We are reaching out to consumers by carrying out as much sampling as we can to get people trying Cuckoo. This is supported by a really exciting social media campaign and as much media coverage as possible.
MyLBB: Where do you see Cuckoo in three years’ time?
AM & LW: We would like Cuckoo to be an established challenger brand available nationally. We would like to have gained listings with at least one multiple. We would also like to have launched future products (outside of Bircher muesli) for which we have lots of really exciting ideas.
MyLBB: And finally, what advice would you give to other young women who have spotted a gap in the market and are interested in starting their own business?
AM & LW: Having a mentor who understands all of the aspects and steps and challenges involved in setting up a business has been invaluable. Get out there and get chatting to as many people as you can about your idea; don’t be afraid to use your contacts, grow your network and pick people’s brains.