Donegal Diaspora caught up with Vincent Breslin to find out why doing business in Donegal works
Name of your business and description of what you do.- Sian’s Plan is an online subscription based meal planner that helps busy parents keep their family healthy.
Feeding your family well everyday is stressful. We spend 2.5 hours grocery shopping every week, 9 hours cooking and throw out more than £720 a year in food waste a year so it’s no wonder that 70% of us see cooking as a chore.
Sian’s Plan helps parents to stay in control, save time and save money. Along with optimising your family’s health, Sian’s Plan helps you save 7.5 hours every week (16 days a year!) and at least £700 a year by eliminating food waste.
Sian’s Plan is a weekly healthy eating solution that will help you provide real home-cooked, delicious food, efficiently. We give you your time back.
Sian’s Plan was created by professional home economist and Huffington Post blogger Sian Breslin. Sian’s Plan was born out of 30 years experience in home management, teaching and cooking at home. With Sian’s Plan, your pantry, fridge and freezer play a very active part in how you cook. The healthy meal planning, recipe, & grocery system consists of a drag and drop colour-coded recipe plan to balance diets throughout the week & a grocery planning system to complete online purchases.
What is your connection to Donegal?
Sian’s Plan was started in Donegal and has a presence is Sian’s Cookery School in Donegal Manor. We’re a family business, I grew up in Finadoose Donegal however am now based in London. Sian has lived in Donegal for over 30 years and was a home economics teacher at the Abbey Vocational School for most of them.
When did you set up your business?
The business was set up in 2012. We received early stage seed funding in January 2013 of €300k and are now closing a €400k round to launch in the UK market.
Who or what is your main market?
Busy parents and young professional
How do you run your business from Donegal? Give us a feel for how it all works.
We have a presence in Donegal, Belfast and London. Donegal is where Sian is based and it’s the home of our brand. We’re all about healthy, simple home-cooking, something that Sian focuses on in her cookery school.
There are advantages to all 3 locations. We’re in London as we’re focused on building partnerships with national and global brands. You can’t get that in Donegal or Belfast. Belfast has an abundance of highly skilled graduates coming from two world class universities so it’s very cost effective for us. We also get a lot of support from the Northern Irish government.
But Donegal is our unfair advantage over any London based start-ups in our space. Continuous press coverage is crucial to get our brand out there and rather than competing with the hip London food scene we offer journalists and key commentators a few days away at Donegal Manor Guesthouse and Cookery School to meet Sian and learn first hand why she created her plan. It’s just as cost effective to pay for flights to Derry and stay at the Manor as it is to rent a funky studio in London but it’s much more personal and goes down extremely well.
Sian is the only member of the team based in Donegal full time. She splits her time writing for the Huffington Post and our own blogs and newsletters and developing ways to make it easier for busy people to eat well.
Why choose Donegal as a place for business?
Donegal is where we started and where we call home. We’re still very much early stage but as we grow and develop (fingers crossed!) we’d love to build our base in Donegal and help the community as much as we can.
Describe your work / life balance?
Over the past few months the work/life balance has been a lot more work than life. Setting up a business from scratch is extremely time consuming. We’re on a race against time to bring in funding so that we can achieve our goals and continue on our development roadmap. At the same time we need to grow and show milestones being achieved. The most important thing is that we all love what we do and now that we have raised a significant amount of investment we can bring in a few extra pair of hands to share the load.
Sian is great for making us take some time to celebrate achievements and enjoy life.
What has been the biggest challenge you faced and how did you meet it?
The most recent challenge was raising €120,000 by crowdfunding. It’s a lot of money and you need at least 100 people to believe in what you are doing and invest their hard earned money. We hit the 100% last Friday 21st March which was a huge relief. Our strategy really paid off. We’re fortunate to have nearly 150 investors investing between €15 and €20,000 in our business. We’re into overfunding so still time to get involved if you wish! https://www.seedrs.com/startups/sians-plan
What are your hopes for the future here and for your business?
Our goal for Sian’s Plan is to be a global player in the healthy family eating market. We’re already looking towards the US and Australia where we have angel investors and have been on a number of trade missions. First things first though, we’re focused on becoming market leader in the UK over the next 12 months and breaking even. We know exactly what we need to achieve so it’s all hands on deck to hit that milestone.
As we grow, so will our base in Donegal. We look forward to many events and celebrations at Donegal Manor and bringing in eager staff to help with recipe development, content creation and much more.
Any advice for someone looking to set up a business in Donegal?
What are you waiting for?!