Business as Unusual: Adapting the business while staying true to your purpose

The Planty team
Image from Planty
Clare Kelly
by Clare Kelly
9 June 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has been impacting business in different ways, and founders have had to pivot to adapt and survive in an ever-changing environment. 

In our Business as Unusual series, we’ve been speaking to companies supported by Virgin StartUp to explore the impact of coronavirus on small businesses and entrepreneurs. 

Andrea Cavallo and Ali Sheehan-Dare are the founders of Planty and they recently spoke to us about their plant-based meal delivery company.

According to Ali, “Planty lets people enjoy healthy & super tasty plant-based meals without the associated hassle of having to cook or shop, while also joining a movement to fight against climate change through the food they eat." Andrea and Ali started Planty to build change through positivity and by shifting perceptions on how a plant-based diet can be good for people, super tasty, and good for our planet.

COVID-19 has impacted the business quite significantly, with the number of recurring users and subscriptions both increasing. While these changes were obviously welcomed they came hand-in-hand with increased operational issues, requiring the team to adapt to this sudden increase in demand. 

A Planty meal
Image from Planty

The team needed to scale operations quite suddenly, while carefully managing cash flow to ensure they survived the growth. “We built bespoke fulfilment and operational software, adding more automation to our operations and in turn reducing the manual workload – making us more efficient with limited resources,” said Andrea. “The updated operational software has resulted in a reduction in the time we spend  doing manual operational tasks as well as a reduction in the rate of operational mistakes.”

Throughout all of this change, the Planty team never strayed from their core purpose of caring for people and the planet and are now offering a 40 per cent discount for all NHS staff – helping make their life a little bit easier through the convenience of a Planty meal.

So, what tips does the Planty team have for other businesses during these times? 

  • Look for ways to become more efficient and to create some breathing room for yourself 

  • Build resilience in your team through identifying the change in pace and how it’s affecting our focus so we can help out each other 

  • Anticipate all the growth (or shrink) initiatives for post-crisis as things return to normal 

  • Due-diligence on all the help available to navigate through the crisis