The interview was transcribed and adapted into an article by Deepti Sharma
Lockdown Economy: Interviews by think tank AlterContacts.org with real entrepreneurs sharing insights, challenges and successes during the COVID19 global pandemic to inspire, motivate and encourage other entrepreneurs around the world.
In this interview, we meet with Graeme Fox, the founder of Ravenous Fox, a recipe-based blog and culinary cook-along, created and distributed to his viewing participants directly from Graeme’s home in Newcastle, UK. We discussed how the pandemic has created unique opportunities for entrepreneurs to innovate, interact and inspire new business. Some of the key challenges for a firm in its infancy remain, such as exposure, broadening the market place and networking. However, with tools such as LinkedIn, Ravenous Fox is utilising networking platforms to generate new business to deliver health, wellness and culinary delights for his growing audience whilst further supporting the continuous growth of the brand.
Hi Graeme! We’d like you to dive a bit into what you do as a business specifically.
Graeme: Ravenous Fox started a few years ago as a food blog of interest to anybody who wanted to cook at home and try new recipes. Obviously, as Covid raised its ugly head what happened was people were essentially missing colleagues, friends and family members that they couldn’t see. So, I created a platform where we can cook along in a zoom session; it’s not a commercial kitchen at all, just a standard domestic kitchen. What we do is pick a dish that we all can cook together and the setup is very simple, it’s nothing that people wouldn’t have in their own kitchens at home. But, the setup is such that we can chat; have a laugh & at the end of the day we could all sit down and have something nice to eat at lunchtime.
That’s good! Looking specifically at the pandemic, how would you say the lockdown and the pandemic have affected your business model; particularly the challenges that you faced?
Graeme: Realistically speaking the pandemic has created this opportunity because otherwise, people work from nine to five. The immediate audience that I’m looking for — from a company perspective — is companies like the one I have just done something with- Newcastle building society. Usually, they’re all doing ‘nine to five’ thing so they might not necessarily have done something like this before. So, in the first instance what Covid has allowed me to do is approach these companies whereby people are cooking at home or sort of working from home and they could all come together to cook along with me. In a way, the pandemic has actually created this opportunity.
It’s kind of a new venture, so if you look at your competition or the people you’ve been doing cook-along with, how’d you say the pandemic has affected them? Your insights, please.
Graeme: Well in terms of competition I’ve seen a few people doing live cook-alongs. There’s a guy from Oxford Spenser’s who does quite a lot but it’s more sort of a one-to-one celebrity thing. Speaking of my customers it’s quite a fledgeling business, which is to say that I’m learning about my customers; about what they want and what they are comfortable with. And that allows me to go into my customers’ kitchen and them coming into my kitchen. We share the experience together and it’s something I love doing. It’s like I can pretend I’m on TV and be somebody, but also I can speak directly to people. Just like we’re talking right now and if you have a problem you can ask me about it. It’s very interactive.
That’s very true! Your business is fairly new and like you said that pandemic has more or less inspired it. So, what do you envisage for the next 2 to 3 months for the growth & development of your business?
Graeme: The platform which I wasn’t using before but now I’ve started using is Linkedin. I already have an Instagram account which is more of interest as people can see my recipes. But starting my business profile as opposed to Graeme Fox ( personal) profile on Linkedin allows me to speak directly to other businesses. I think a lot of businesses are aware of wellness and mental health issues that some of their employees may have. The work that I did with Newcastle building society was a part of their ‘ Wellness hour’, it’s something unique that they do. People are quite isolated at home, working on their laptop, so it was kind of an hour’s break to break up the working day and have interaction with each other.
What would you say are the two or three things that you’d look to engage with the community or maybe you need help with at the present stage?
Graeme: To start with — because it’s still a fledgeling business — the first thing is exposure; broadening the market. Just like initially, we talked about businesses and colleagues, I’d like to open that to friendship groups, families and obviously parents. Parents are doing homeschooling at the moment, so cooking along with your children has sort of been lost. As a kid, I used to cook Shepherd’s pie and that’s the opportunity the pandemic has given me. I’m fully on-board with this opportunity and embracing it.
About the Guest
Graeme Fox: “Ravenous Fox was initially created as a blog with recipes I had created at home for others to try. COVID-19 reared its ugly head but gave me the opportunity to create a business whereby I could bring together colleagues, family and friends during lockdown to cook along on a live Zoom call. The end result will always be the same in that we all have something great to eat for lunch but the process is about talking, sharing the experience and learning a little. The 45-minute to an hour sessions if nothing else breaks up the working day and re-establishes the social aspect lost when working from home. The sessions are open to friends, families and colleagues. There will be as many culinary failures as successes but we will all have fun along the way.