Industry/sector: Retail and related services
Date founded: 2006
The boss: Thomasina Miers
Latest turnover: 22.5m
Three-year compound growth rate (%): 43.18
Latest EBITDA: 2.2m
Real Business previously found that MasterChef is quite the startup hub for entrepreneurs looking to get up and running in the food industry, and former contestant Thomasina Miers has certainly proved that and more.
She founded Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca back in 2006 and today there are almost 20 Wahaca restaurant open, most of which are based across London, although Cardiff and Bluewater also house locations.
Her inspiration came from living in Mexico for a spell, running bars out there and experiencing authentic local cuisine. And following a stint on the BBC One show, Miers decided to disrupt the Mexican food market in the UK.
Not so long ago, tequila girls, cheap shots and greasy tortilla chips were images that sprang to mind when Mexican was done in Britain. At Wahaca we shook things up a bit and started doing things a little differently,” she said.
“Weve worked hard to match the flavours of Mexico with ingredients that we can get hold of to create a constantly evolving, seasonal menu with ingredients sourced as locally as possibly, or grown and transported with care for the environment.
Wahaca doesn’t just experiment with food though and in 2014 it embraced the digital sector by partnering with mobile payments startup Flypay. The restaurant now offers customers a bespoke iPhone and Android app in the form of Wahaca QuickPay, which was designed to provide a better form of service in the event the venue is busy.
It allows customers to check the bill, split with friends accordingly and pay through their phone all without the need to wait for a member of staff to come along and collect payment.
The firm is particularly engaged with online marketing, posting regular blogs to encourage social media interactions from customers. In May, the firm teased a new summer menu and redirected consumers to Twitter and Instagram in a bid to find food testers (beta eaters) ahead of the fresh meals going nationwide.
Elsewhere, Wahaca can be found interacting with its Mexican roots, fellow chefs and demonstrating at food events.