My Early Hour: Nick Coleman, Snaffling Pig founder

pub snacks

“Our house is a standard terraced house with a Tiki bar in the garden. I love rum and the beach and thought the garden needed a feature so built one a few years ago.” The founder of Snaffling Pig (those yummy, slightly fancy pork scratchings) discusses life as an entrepreneur…

Nick Coleman, 34, lives in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, with his wife Aimee and their dog, Fudge – a scruffy two-year-old black, white and brown cockerpoo. He is the founder of Snaffling Pig.

What’s your home like?
I grew up in Essex but moved to Marlow before I started the business as I just fell in love with the town. Our house is a standard terraced house with a Tiki bar in the garden. I love rum and the beach and thought the garden needed a feature so built one a few years ago. I’m terrible at DIY and Storm Doris made light work of it.

What time are you up in the morning?
Around 6.30, depending on whether I’m in the office or on the road. There’s been a fair few 4am starts the last few months.

What wakes you up?
Majority of the time I’m woken up with a lick on the nose by Fudge who wants a walk.

How do you feel?
Every single morning I promise myself I should go to bed earlier. But I forget and stay up till midnight watching pointless Youtube videos or FB pictures of cats wearing bread.

What do you do first thing?
I hate it, but I grab my phone and check my emails, social and the news. Then after a shower I’ll take Fudge for a 30 min walk.

In three words, describe mornings in your home?
I hate ironing

Tea or coffee?
I’ll always smash a pint of water before I leave the house as I’m terrible at drinking during the day. Soon as I’m at work I’ll grab a coffee.

How might the rest of your day pan out?
No two days are the same. I try and spend at least two days a week at SP HQ and the rest of the time face to face with suppliers or customers. I’ll go to about 30 trade events a year which are always great fun. Lots of emails, phone calls and tend to walk around the warehouse/packing facility just soaking in everything.

pub snacks

What’s your workspace like?
The business is based on an old pig farm in Yattendon. Our packing room and office is in a separate building to the warehouse. Each bit is functional for what it needs to do. The office has all you need to run a start-up; wifi, laptops, ikea furniture, biscuits, beer, pork scratchings and Spotify. As we are on the edge of a forest I love throwing on some wellies and having staff meetings just walking. People always seem to talk much more freely when they are out from behind a desk.

Where is the dog when you’re working?
Fudge will come to the office with me a couple of times a week. When she’s not there we have a dog walker who we drop her off with so she can run around the fields all day with other dogs.

Tell us about your business…
In 2010, I co-founded the wholesaler; Medical Supermarket. Our mission was to help to healthcare companies save money on all their medical, cleaning and stationery consumables. We grew fast, learnt a heap of lessons and I was eager to start over again in the food industry. So with a £500 seed investment I launched a pork scratching business.

I knew there was mileage in a brand if we could innovate. People are passionate about pork scratchings and no brand was yet to establish itself as premium or innovative. I’m a big believer that to run a successful business, you have to surround yourself with people far better at their jobs than you are. Cue Andrew Allen. One of my closest mates, he’d recently launched a digital marketing agency and worked on some of the UK’s most innovative food brands. With him on board we could build a brand unlike anything that has ever existed.

Fast forward to today and we have 11 flavours of pork crackling, sold in foil bags, glass gifting jars and even packaged as an advent calendar. We are sold in over 2,000 pubs and fine food shops and have expanded the range into beer.

Running a start-up is all consuming. I’m lucky I have friends and family who understand and support me

What’s the greatest challenge when running your own business?
Running a business requires every single skill I’ve every learnt. Patience is by far my biggest weakness and not everything runs at the pace I prefer. When things are outside of my circle of control it makes things frustrating but I’ve learnt to manage it.

What makes it all worthwhile?
Reading the feedback we get from customers who have bought a jar for someone and the sheer joy they get when they see the product! I love it when our customers embrace our love of pig based puns and bombard us with jokes.

Are there aspects of the production that you delegate to others?
I love start-ups. Every single element excites and interests me, from the sales, operations to the finance. However once it’s set up, I love handing it over to people who will do a far better job at that task than me. I’m not precious at holding onto things and I think the best way to motivate your team is to empower them and give them proper responsibility. Give them leadership and space and allow them to make mistakes. I’m always drawn to new shiny things, but I ensure I have the staff around me who are motivated at running the day to day allowing me to focus on what I do best.

Are you a happy lone worker, or do you enjoy the buzz of a shared workspace?
Don’t get me wrong there are some days I love getting my head down and ignoring the world around me but nothing beats working in a fully functional effective team. My job is to make the team work at its best and I love being in the thick of it and seeing it working. Being in the middle of it also allows me to understand when it’s going wrong and fixing things before they become bigger issues.

What’s the secret to career success?
I’ve learnt that it’s absolutely vital to do something you love do and not to chase the money. I’ve done the whole PAYE, blue chip thing just because it paid well. But as soon as I made the leap from guaranteed income to the wonderful world of start-ups I will never look back. Start-ups are not for everyone, they come with a large amount of risk, stress and workload but that challenging, fast moving, innovative environment complements my skill set and puts a spring in my step.

Is the juggle real for you… do you find it difficult balancing relationship/me-time/time for friends/career?
Running a start-up is all consuming. I’m lucky I have friends and family who understand and support me. In the very beginning I had to make sacrifices but as I’ve learnt that there’s no such thing as a work/life balance in start-ups… there is just life. You have to integrate your business into your life otherwise if you try and separate the two you end up paying one side less attention.

Describe an ideal weekend?
Any weekend that involves my mates, some great food and a heap of booze. In fact my ideal weekend is coming up! We’ve hired a big house for a big group of friends. We’ve got eight couples, five kids, couple of dogs and a mountain of BBQ food. Expect lots of Instragram pics of cold beers in the sun.

If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
In a camper van in the Alaskan wilderness. I’ve always dreamed of doing a huge road trip across the States. Maybe one day I’ll find the time.