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Before you pick up that bottle of leading brand ketchup, check out the label. With a handful of preservatives, additives and a whopping 17 sugar cubes, it’s probably not as nutritious as you thought it was.
After hearing parents claim that giving their kids ketchup was a good way to get a serving of vegetables in, trainee surgeon and entrepreneur Dr. Will Breakey knew he had to do something about the state of the condiments aisle.
Keep reading to find out how Dr. Will’s got started, and why it’s giving condiments incumbents a run for their money.
Tell us a bit about your background in the medical field – what made you decide to pursue entrepreneurship as well?
I’m a trainee plastic surgeon right now, and there were a fair few hoops to jump through to get to this point. It was during the more junior years of my training that I first met my co-founders for Dr Will’s. We all felt that the opportunity to create healthier, tastier ‘no gunk, no junk’ condiments was too big to miss and that’s why I decided to combine my medical career with entrepreneurship.
For context, how bad are the regular store-bought condiments for you?
We look at this from a couple of angles – sugar and quality of ingredients. From a sugar point of view regular ketchups contain anywhere between 20 and 40g per 100g of sauce. For scale, at the top end an adult could use up their recommended maximum daily amount of sugar in just 5 or 6 standard 15g servings of ketchup. We all know that a 15g serving is a bit measly, so you could potentially use your entire sugar allowance for the day in ketchup alone. From an ingredients standpoint, we decided from the outset that we’d never use anything artificial in favour of ingredients that you can pronounce, and probably find in your local grocery store. We keep our sauces all natural.
How did you come up with the formula for condiments that taste good, without all the sugar and preservatives?
This took a long time, and it’s a constantly evolving process! I started out by reading every ketchup recipe I could find and trying to recreate it without any of the refined sugar. Through a series of iterations (we’re on version 57 now) we finally came up with a tasty, healthier product.
Is there anyone else in the market attempting to do this? How will you prevent copycats from trying to capture market share?
There are a couple of condiment brands joining us in the fight against the big guys, all approaching the problem from different angles. In addition to having a great product, our strength lies in the authentic, trustworthy brand that we’ve created.
What kind of traction from listings and sales have you seen so far?
This is something that grows week on week. We started out by selling in amazing delis, farm stores and independent grocers before landing two national listings with Waitrose and Tesco, both of which have been really supportive of what we’re trying to achieve. We’ve seen huge growth in the last year since winning these listings. We sold 10k bottles in Tesco in our first two months!
Tell us a bit about Dr. Will’s sustainability journey – how did you become a certified B Corp and what does this mean for the business?
Sustainability has always been extremely important to us, and the B Corp certification process is extremely robust. We became certified around a year and a half after we first started the process. It involved a deep dive into our company and forced us to really think about and improve on some of our current practices and processes. We are constantly striving to improve our sustainability credentials, and a bit like our recipes, I feel this will be something we never stop working on.
What will be the first course of action once the funds from this round reach your account?
Take a deep breath! We’ve been blown away by the support we’ve received and will need a week or so to recover from the campaign. After that, we’ll be heading straight into future planning on all fronts, including pressing go on the activation strategies we’ve been waiting on funds for, and starting new conversations with our retailers about brand growth.
What can we expect next from Dr. Will’s?
We have some big news dropping next week so stay tuned! But in general, you’ll see us launch some great new condiments and steadily expand our listings.
What’s your go-to condiment if you could only pick one for the rest of time?
Dr Will’s Tomato Ketchup.
What’s your top tip on keeping healthy without compromising on flavour?
Get your sugar from natural sources.
What’s the number one learning you’ve taken away from starting a business?
Never be afraid to reach out and ask questions to people who’ve been there before.
To find out more about Dr. Will’s, and for the opportunity to invest, visit the pitch.