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30 Digital Champions: Carving out a niche by taking an overlooked British cuisine to the streets

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Our crusade to highlight the 30 forward-thinking small British enterprises using digital to support growth and operations has seen us speak to entrepreneurs in a variety of sectors.

Despite what some leaders may believe, tech doesn’t need to be complex and welcoming digital can be a great enabler for growing companies. Indeed, we’ve spoken with a pop-up cinema, hospitality service, event company, a beautician and more, which shows that digital really is ubiquitous.

Young entrepreneur Fabian Clark is the latest entrepreneur we’ve spoken with, as his seafood street market venture has been recognised as a Digital Champion. He tells us how he spotted a gap in the sector, with much of the product being sent overseas instead of being kept in the UK, and how he plans to scale into a fixed restaurant for 2017.

(1) Please give us a brief introduction to the business?

Britain currently exports approximately 80 per cent of its crab to the rest of Europe. On discovering this, CLAW decided that it was about time to bring the humble crab back to British plates!

Crab – and other shellfish alike – is in abundance throughout the UK. However, as a country, we consume very little of it ourselves

CLAW was born from a passion to capitalise on the abundance of crab and other sustainable shellfish that we have along our shores. Britain has some of the best quality shellfish in the world and CLAW looks to make it an accessible, attainable everyday product.

(2) What have the significant growth milestones been in the last few years?

Trading since February 2015, CLAW has become a regular across all the KERB markets and has had various residencies in London, including Brewdog bars, Duke’s Head Highgate and most recently D&D’s Fish Market.

We’re immensely proud of all the pop-ups we’ve done. They’ve not only allowed us to develop our food offering, but grown the brand significantly alongside it.

Late last year we were awarded Virgin’s Foodpreneur for 2015. It was an incredible achievement and amazing to gain recognition for what we’re doing.

The Dutch twin sisters building a British beverage business

(3) What inspires you as an entrepreneur, and how does that come across with your company?

Creativity and ultimately the food industry inspire me. I’ve always been incredibly passionate about food since a young age. For CLAW we source some of the finest ingredients and never compromise on quality and I think the customers recognise that.

Today, people really buy into the brand and the story behind it; I think it’s incredibly important for the brand to have a personality.

(4) What kind of obstacles are you encountering as you grow your enterprise?

Currently, as a one-man-band, it’s inevitably the operations that cause the biggest worries. Dealing with various suppliers, booking future events, working at the events, organising the finances and essentially running a business always creates challenges.

The pop-up cinema brand that started in the founder’s garden

(5) For a company that isn’t technology based, how has a digital approach helped you to carve out a bigger market and acquire new customers?

We live in a time when digital landscape is vast and the amount of people you can reach is phenomenal. Social media is typically the budding food brand’s biggest weapon. We endeavour to update ourselves on Instagram and Twitter as regularly as time allows.

As I mentioned earlier, people want to see the ongoing story, so I think it’s important to commit to that. Ultimately it has really helped, as countless times customers have messaged directly via social media to either find out more information or even book tables.

(6) How is technology helping you to overcome hurdles, and what are the challenges of implementation?

In regards to social media, it has directly helped us overcome a financial barrier to PR and marketing. They’re both incredibly expensive, however, social media has allowed us to engage an audience for free.

On the other side of the business, organising the finances and running the books has always typically been a large hurdle for any entrepreneur. We use an online platform that’s faultless and so easy to use, which means we can regularly stay on top of our accounts.

The hospitality service that started with the arrival of Airbnb

(7) Do you employ any kind of flexible working, and how does technology fit into this?

I try and ensure I have some regular downtime but, like any entrepreneurial business, the work seems to follow you wherever you go. In regards to technology, my mobile is ultimate tool, as regardless of wherever I am, I can always be reached. I suppose that is a good thing and a bad thing!

(8) What kind of technology tools can you not work without?

I cannot work without my mobile or my laptop. I’ve made sure my laptop is pretty light so I can take it pretty much anywhere.

iZettle is also a piece of technology that most street food traders can’t live without. It allows you to take card payments and only charges you a minimal percentage per transaction.

(9) What kind of technology would help you better compete with larger rivals?

In our current position there honestly probably isn’t much. As we’re essentially mobile, we don’t have to deal with the complications that permanent businesses need to.

(10) Where do you want to take your business in the future?

The ambition with CLAW has always been to turn the initial street food brand into a restaurant business. Street food is the perfect entry point, as it allows you to trial your product across a variety of locations, which essentially proves whether the concept works or not. We ideally aim to have bricks and mortar within the next 12 months.

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