Praveen Vijh, Eat Natural

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Eat Natural makes simple fruit and nut bars by hand in small batches in the heart of Essex. We also make a range of mueslis and granolas made from natural ingredients you’d find in your pantry, such as pumpkin seeds, spelt flakes and honey. I was on holiday in Australia when I had the idea to create a new kind of snack bar. Over there, there seemed to be a wealth of ‘natural’ snacks. We got thinking...and Eat Natural was born.

Preet and I are best friends from years ago and we were very keen to get into the food business. We loved our food on a personal level and just saw the gap in the market. We loved the idea of being ‘transparent’ and creating a product where people could see all the raw ingredients with their own eyes. We also loved the concept of a product which was deemed healthier than other snack bars, without compromising on taste.

We scraped some money together thanks to an investor who gave us £20,000, and we bought some very basic machinery. In the very early days we had to mix our ingredients together in an old cement mixer! Our wives were a great help too. The four of us worked hard in our kitchens until we’d perfected the recipe. Our research was very low-fi. We talked to people. We opened our eyes, hit the streets, saw and tasted all the other products out there that we’d be coming up against.

It took a while for success to hit. We were listed in the Free From section in Tesco and we also had a major coup with Albert Heijn in Holland – a huge supermarket group – which kicked off our entry into the continent.