No animals (or chefs) harmed: How Brad built two vegan food brands
At a glance
- Chef Brad Anderson started Noo Moo Foods when he noticed a gap – tasty vegan food.
- In June last year, he added Hemp Soft Serve to the vegan treats line-up.
- On the verge of launching the wholesale side of the business, Brad found out his funding had fallen through – but he refused to let that derail his plans.
When Brad Anderson’s doctor said he had to change his eating habits, Brad cut out animal products entirely. But he soon found out that vegan food is hard to find and, worse, what he could find was utterly boring. So the chef – who’s cooked for AC/DC, P!nk, Tom Cruise and more – started making his own.
Noo Moo Foods (pronounced ‘no-moo’ – get it?) was born.
“Being a chef for more than 30 years, it was time to answer that question: should we open our own establishment?” Brad says. “A food truck was a cheap way to get started, with lower running costs than commercial premises, and we thought well, we’ve got the experience.”
Brad’s wife Lorraine, a hairdresser, found helping to build Noo Moo a natural fit – ”she enjoys hospitality and is really good with customer service,” Brad says. But Lorraine is also heavily involved in the business side of Noo Moo.
“Lorraine’s more of the brains behind the business – she’s the one that sort of reins me in,” Brad laughs.
Soon Brad’s plant-based burgers (did we mention a vegan mac-and-cheese patty?) were being flung fast from that food truck.
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Then, COVID came.
“I thought, that’s it,” says Brad. “No one really knew what was going to happen. I was looking at New Zealand’s lockdown and planning for the worst situation, and Lorraine was hoping for the best.”
The food truck proved better than just a cost-effective launch for Noo Moo. When Melbourne residents were restricted to a 5km radius, Noo Moo achieved what many businesses were attempting – the ‘pivot’.
“Within 12 hours we had an online store for vegan groceries available for our customers in the area. We offered curbside pickup, and brought in strict COVID safety policies,” Brad says. “Nobody saw this coming, but we shifted quickly so we could take our food truck to that 5km border boundary that we had, and help our customers get out of their houses safely and get their vegan foods.”
The Hemp Soft Serve Company
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In June 2020, Brad and Lorraine were looking for an investment that would help them expand their business, and were offered a great EOFY deal on a soft-serve ice-cream machine.
“We saw an opportunity to make vegan ice cream,” Brad says. “There were a lot of costs associated with setting up the ice cream side of the business – we started constructing a commercial kitchen, and had to secure hemp milk, source the flavours, have packaging made.”
Brad and Lorraine applied for a small business loan through their bank to cover the costs of packaging.
“It’s not a traditional soft-serve ice cream where you line up and get a cone – that’s not the business. We’re using the soft serve machine to pour into 600ml trays, and we sell them as take-home packs,” Brad says, explaining that the big potential in this business is wholesale – getting his Hemp Soft Serve packs stocked in supermarkets.
A packaging supplier had created mock-ups for Brad and Lorraine to review, and launch plans were coming together, until Brad learnt that the loan with bank didn’t go through as he’d expected.
“Our partners have to be confident that we’re open and transparent, even when it comes to tough situations,” Brad says of how he responded to that news. That’s when he decided to call Prospa.
Brad had previously used a Prospa Small Business Loan to partially fund the fit-out of his commercial kitchen. By the end of 2020 Brad had paid the loan off, faster than he’d expected to, and this time around wanted the ongoing safety net of a Line of Credit.
“It’s a small monthly fee to keep the Line of Credit active, and I can draw down on it when I need to, pay it off quickly and only pay interest on the time in between,” Brad says.
After a chat with a Prospa agent and submitting the application, the much needed funds were in Brad’s account within 90 minutes of approval.
Brad and Lorraine hopped on a flight to check out their take-home packs and now, only months later, the wholesale business is their main focus.
“That Line of Credit put me back in the game – we weren’t too sure what direction the business was going to go in,” says Brad. “But now we’re expanding and we’re having a punt – hopefully it’s all going to work.
See more of the Noo Moo Foods and Hemp Soft Serve story (and get a look at that ice-cream!).
Need some help achieving your business goals? Find out how a Prospa Line of Credit could help you get across the line.
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