AMA: Ella Rauen-Prestes, founder of Fitbakes
The health-conscious among us are always on the lookout for healthy alternatives. Ella Rauen-Prestes saw a gap in the market for a healthy alternative to cake and so, founded Fitbakes.
Hi Ella! Tell us a bit about your company.
Fitbakes is a brand of low sugar high protein baked snacks with no artificial nonsense.
How did the idea for Fitbakes come about?
I’m a cakeaholic! And I come from Brazil, where healthy substitutes are the norm. So when I arrived in the UK a few years ago and realised there wasn't a healthier alternative to cake, I rolled up my sleeves and Fitbakes was born.
Fantastic. Tell us an interesting fact about yourself that the business community doesn't know.
I’ll give you two:
- I have a BSc in Computer Science, a proper IT geek! My first job was as helpdesk support in a computer lab at uni. I was that girl walking around with a screwdriver always on my back pocket, ready to fix computers.
- I don’t like Jaffa Cake. It’s our second best selling flavour, but I personally can’t stand the combination of chocolate with orange.
We launched this flavour because the clients voted for it in a poll, it’s a UK bestseller. But when I was developing it, I had the kids and my husband try the different batches because I don’t like the taste at all!
It's a tough job but someone's got to do it! What's the biggest mistake you've made as an entrepreneur?
Re-hiring someone. We had a team member that left for personal reasons a couple of years ago and we brought them back during Covid; we wanted to help. But there was no commitment from them to the company or the team; it didn’t work.
So what does company culture mean to you?
It means people having freedom and being committed to results. I don’t care where our team members are and when, I care about their work. Our Social Media Manager is currently working from a beach in Croatia, and she is more productive than lots of people in an office from 9 to 5.
Do you have a share or option scheme in place for your team? What impact has it made?
We do, for the senior management. It was the only way we could bring that level of talent without massive funds.
It's a smart way to attract talent and preserve cash flow. How do you keep your team aligned?
We have individual long conference calls every week, even on weeks where there is not much to go over. Seeing each other faces and talking about how each one is doing is really important.
Couldn't agree more. Can you share any practical tips or processes to help people work remotely?
I have been working remotely since 2006, so there are definitely things I picked up after doing some right and wrong choices. First of all, stipulate a working time, otherwise, you will stop working from home and will start to feel like you live in your office.
Another one that helped me a lot was not to use my working laptop after working times. If I need to do something online that's not 'work', I do it on a tablet or phone, so my brain understands I am not in business mode. Separating work from downtime is a must.
Did you ever experience a business disappointment that led to something better?
Covid. And I think I speak for a lot of small businesses that were fast enough to adapt and thrived during the pandemic. We grew more than 100% in 2020 delivering cakes to people’s doors.
Amazing! And finally, Ella, who would play you in a film of your life? If you could pick anyone...
Jennifer Lopez: strong, passionate, Latin and loud.
Excellent choice. Thanks so much for your time Ella. It's been a pleasure!