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Interview with Clara Best: Founder of saved

StartIn: Please give a three sentence overview about your start-up!

Clara: Saved is developing insect-based essential food items such as snacks and pasta, leveraging insects’ high tenure in protein while contributing to the development of a more sustainable food supply chain.

Clara Best – Founder & CEO of saved

StartIn: Where, when, what did you study? And please tell us what your time with Pepsi was about?

Clara: This is my career path so far:

– Cass Business School – BSc Business Studies (2014-2017)

– Hong Kong University – BSc Business Studies (exchange year 2015-2016)

– Imperial College Business School – MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management (2018-2019)

– I joined PepsiCo by winning the Global ‘Dare To Do More Challenge’. The challenge allows students to come up with an idea, the products of tomorrow, pitch it to a PepsiCo jury and hopefully win a spot at the company. I won the European Challenge which gave me the chance, among 7 other global winners, to fly to New York and present my idea to PepsiCo’s CEO, Ramon Laguarta and his leadership team. I then started the 3-year long graduate programme in the Insight function.

– **UK Shopper Insights:** worked part of an umbrella team named DX (Demand Accelerator) within the Sales team and collaborated closely with the Perfect Store, Category Management and Shopper Marketing teams. Through this role, we analysed shoppers perception and buying behaviours to optimise sales in all PepsiCo’s UK channels and categories, categories which include snacks, juice and grains.

– **WE Consumer Insights – Lay’s**: in opposition to Shopper Insights, within the consumer insights team, we focus on being the voice of the consumer rather than the shopper. The difference is that a consumer is everyone who consumes products but a consumer only becomes a shopper at points of sale. During my time in the Western Europe Lay’s team, I worked hand-in-hand with Lay’s Marketing team to make sure Lay’s brand growth strategy is in line with market needs, campaigns are consumer-centric & Lay’s performance was well understood by all teams. This role was very cross-functional through the collaboration with R&D, finance & commercialisation.

StartIn: How did you come up with your idea of saved?

Clara: I founded Saved from my own struggles to become plant-based; the options are either hard to digest, hard to cook, bland or too processed. This is how I looked out for better options, came across insect protein and thought why not integrate insect protein within the food we love to help people transition to more sustainable eating?

StartIn: That sounds very interesting! After that, how did you check whether this was also a good idea? We all know stories of start-ups that sound so promising, but just did not work out.

Clara: Well, I haven’t succeeded yet, hopefully I will! My background at Pepsi was in insights and getting to know consumers needs and pain points so initially I spent a lot of time talking to potential consumers, understanding what problems and wants they had, to experts to to learn more about entomophagy and key stakeholders to get their views on the alternative protein market. A super easy book to read that I highly suggest to anyone is the ‘Mom’s test’, which basically helps you test your idea with people around you while having the right insights to move on.

StartIn: When speaking to potential customers, how do you do this best? How can you find them, reach out to them, and what do you ask them then (do you like my product is not really insightful to ask)?

Clara: Try to know what assumptions you’re trying to test, list them and then one by one, see who are the potential consumers to test this hypothesis, where to find them and what questions to ask them. You can find these people on LinkedIn, Facebook groups, in shops, in closed networks, in the street, anywhere really, depends on your idea! Be smart and be conscious on people’s time. So set yourself a Calendly and when reaching out to groups or people, add your Calendly link so people can easily book their slots. And again, how to talk to them, read ‘the Mom’s test’. If not, you’re going to waste your time.

StartIn:  How much resources and time should one invest in checking the own idea? When is it time to get going and start building the product or service?

Clara: One you validated most of your hypothesises, at least the most important ones that could make or break your idea. Then, get a MVP asap, even if it’s not great, to get people to try it. Because most people don’t do what they say they would, so having a product in front of them makes them act almost the same as they would usually do. And test as much as you can, in all circumstances. And be methodical on how you gather the data and know what you’ll do with it (ie change the product, new features, new customer group, etc). And then adapt the MVP and test again.

StartIn:  Looking back now, do you notice you missed out on something in your idea testing / customer research, that you know now?

Clara: I think we focus a lot of time on the end-consumers but in my case, for instance, I’ll be mainly selling my products to other businesses which will then sell to the consumers. So I should have spent more time understand what the buyers need and what their focus is at the moment to make sure you launch a product that they need too.

StartIn: Many thanks your time and sharing your insights!