Founders Diaries: Cat Gazzoli on taking her organic baby food brand Piccolo to China
8 min read
11 June 2018
Cat Gazzoli is on track to turnover £6m this year, and is eyeing China as an export market for her organic babyfood brand Piccolo. Here's her story.
Good nutrition is the key to good living. This the core belief guiding Cat Gazzoli, co-founder of organic Mediterranean-inspired baby food brand Piccolo. Driven by her long-standing career in food, her Italian family, and her experiences as mother to four-year-old Juliet, Gazzoli launched Piccolo in 2016 and is now poised to enter the hyper-competitive Chinese market. Here’s her story.
Founder: Cat Gazzoli, Piccolo
Turnover: Estimated £6m by EOY
In a sentence: Organic baby food, steeped in the Mediterranean way of life
Your business legacy
We want to help educate and support parents weaning little ones. Our range of baby food and snacks is both nutritious and delicious, which means we can help develop babies’ taste buds and help develop their palates ready for a great relationship with food. We also are determined to give back where we can, so are committed to giving 10% profits to charity to help those parents who need it most.
How do you measure success?
We measure success in two ways – internally, it is my first priority that my team members are happy and motivated. Externally I want to make sure we are growing the business in the best way we can – one which helps develop the right products that parents need, and one that helps those parents who are struggling a little bit
Growth plans for the year
We have recently launched in to Sainsbury’s, which was a big UK goal for us. We have also launched two new product lines, our Piccolo Pots and our Piccolo Squares. Further afield, we have begun discussions to begin export to China, whose baby food category is rapidly growing after China’s one baby policy was stopped.
Your biggest technology boost
Xero has been a great introduction to Piccolo. I love how accessible it is, and how useful in so many different ways. Everyone in the team has a Xero app on their phone so they can do their expenses and other costs when on-the-go, saving so much time and admin for them.
In five years
In five years we hope to be a truly international brand. We have already begun trading in a number of countries, but there is so much room to grow further. We have a vision of being more than just a baby food brand: we want to take a holistic approach to kids’ development and offer parents healthy and nutritious options for all ages.
Your highest point…
What is your greatest business achievement? We are incredibly proud of our launches in to Sainsbury’s and Tesco this year – it’s been one of our goals since we launched the brand two years ago, and to see it happen this May is a dream come true.
Your lowest point…
My most embarrassing moment was when I went to a trade meeting and didn’t understand some of the jargon – everyone quickly realised I was a bit unsure and talking normally which made things much better for me!
What would tell your younger self
It really is possible to grow a business that you love and help others at the same time.
Your policy wish list
I wish businesses operating in the food world were more accountable to promoting a balanced diet – especially when it comes to children’s nutrition. There is some great work being done, particularly around sugar and salt content, but there is so much to do to on a holistic nutritional level.
Your biggest piece of advice to other entrepreneurs
Not so much a guilty pleasure, but my hobby is reading recipe books – my 4 year old daughter Juliet loves sitting with me and flicking through my collection, helping me plan what we’ll make together next.
What would make you a better leader?
More time to spend with my team. We source all our ingredients from independent family run farms across the Med, and so I spend a lot of time there getting to know them and their families and making sure we get only the best from Piccolo.
The one app you use the most
Instagram – the parenting blogging community is huge with some really respected communicators, so I spend a lot of time hearing what they’re up to and what they’re getting excited about
A day in your life
Every day is very different, depending on if I’m in London where our office is, Italy where my husband’s family is (and Juliet’s beloved nonni!) or travelling around sourcing new ingredients or investigating new markets. If in London, I wake up very early in the morning so I can get a bit of work done before Juliet gets up. We have breakfast together before I take her to nursery and head to the office in Covent Garden.
There I spend time with my team and in meetings before we all sit together and enjoy a home cooked lunch – Mediterranean style. Once work is over, I collect Juliet and we often go out for dinner together in Covent Garden – in Italy it’s very common for kids to stay up late and sit with their parents: British people are sometimes very surprised!
On your reading list right now
My current favourite is Radical Candour – I have given it to all my senior team and it has changed the way we give feedback at Piccolo
On your watch list right now
I actually find reading business books has been more inspiring than stuff on TV at the moment. I am quite into Simon Sinek as an author in the business and start up world, he particularly focuses on how to make sure the team around you is happy at work. The book I most recommend of his is: Start with Why.