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BakedIn: Meet the man who started a baking club from his kitchen

In the first few months of lockdown a large chunk of the nation seemingly passed the time by baking, including a mass production of banana bread. 

Around 53 per cent of us started kneading and mixing in the first two months of self-isolation, according to a YouGov survey. 

One business that benefited hugely from this Great British Bake Off trend is Basingstoke-based entrepreneur Joseph Munns who started BakedIn while he was still working full-time for IBM as a development transformation manager.

Munns, 42, eventually gave up his 13-year career at IBM and while this was risky, it appears to have paid off. 

Sweet treats: Joseph Munns who started BakedIn in 2013 has benefited from Britain’s renewed love of baking during lockdown

The combination of multiple lockdowns and families living at home more has resulted in his subscription baking business growing 310 per cent in the past year, resulting in a turnover of £5million.

Munns started BakedIn in 2013. He initially tried to finance the business through crowdfunding but pulled out of that after successfully obtaining financing through angel investors. 

However, the second round of investment involved a combination of crowdfunding through Seedrs and private investors.

Fast-forward eight years and he has grown his business from 100 subscribers, which he says he knew intimately as they initially consisted of family and friends, to more than 20,000 members.

Other major successes include securing investment from late Michelin starred restaurateur Michel Roux Snr, which Munns claims is his biggest business success to date. 

As a result of the baking kits’ popularity and investors willing to pitch in, he was able to expand from his kitchen into a 40,000 square foot factory.

Roux passed away at the age of 79 in March 2020, but Munns still has fond memories. 

He doesn’t want to divulge how much Roux and others invested in the business, but adds: ‘Michel was a much-loved member of the BakedIn team.

BakedIn’s billing options 

BakedIn offers subscribers four different ways to subscribe.

 Subscribers can save money by taking out longer subscriptions. The cut-off date to sign up or cancel is before the 1st of every month. The options are as follows:

· £99 paid every 12 months – which works out to £8.25 per box.

· £56 paid every six months – which works out to £9.50 per box.

· £33 paid every three months – which works out to £11 per box

· Alternatively, those who prefer to do a rolling monthly subscription pay £12 a month per kit.

‘I vividly remember the first time I met him in 2015 on a sunny day at the Waterside Inn and pitched him my vision for the baking club. 

‘He immediately got behind what we wanted to do, and I was fortunate to be able to get him on board as an investor and adviser.’

Subscription model

Fans of Munns’ baking club can choose from different baking subscription models which include a general baking club, bread baking club and a junior baking club for kids. 

Subscriptions start from £8.25 per month and if customers choose the 12-month pre-paid option they benefit from free UK delivery.

Kits contain easy to follow recipes, dry ingredients, and extras like baking paper and a testing skewer. 

Recipes are varied and include tasty creations like blackberry coconut crumble squares, chocolate orange Jaffa loafs and toffee apple drip cake.

Munns says running a subscription bakery business has its advantages. ‘The reason we chose the subscription model is that we liked the idea of recurring revenue and the ability to market to customers. 

‘We don’t do the same products for our subscribers that we sell in the retailers. So, it gave us a powerful way of building a customer base.’

Baking kits are also available in Tesco, Ocado, and Amazon. Munns says: ‘About 50 per cent is direct to consumer and the other 50 per cent is brought in through these retailers.’

Fans of BakedIn can choose from different baking subscription models which include a general baking club, bread baking club and a junior baking club for kids

Fans of BakedIn can choose from different baking subscription models which include a general baking club, bread baking club and a junior baking club for kids

Partnership with Nestlé

Traditionally, it’s been BakedIn’s mug cakes that have proved most popular as they’re simple to create and just heated in a microwave. 

But the last 12 months have also seen the company move toward bread making and its current best-selling product is the Soft Pretzel Kit, which retails for £2.50 through Tesco.

The business also lends itself well to collaborations with other brands. This month Munns’s BakedIn joined forces with Nestlé Carnation condensed milk to launch a new Millionaire’s Shortbread limited edition baking kit. 

It has a buttery shortbread base, layer of caramel and a rich chocolate topping and retails for £9.99 on BakedIn’s website.

Munns says: ‘We’ve always believed that innovation is key to driving growth and this launch is another way of delighting our ever-expanding customer community, to enrich their baking experiences. 

‘As a challenger business, to be partnering with a timeless brand like Carnation is a real milestone too.’

BakedIn has collaborated with Nestlé Carnation to launch a new Millionaire’s Shortbread limited edition baking kit.

BakedIn has collaborated with Nestlé Carnation to launch a new Millionaire’s Shortbread limited edition baking kit.

Four-day week advocate

Many businesses are suffering staff shortages and the baking industry is no exception. 

Just last month a Shropshire bakery that had been operating for 20 years had to close shop as it struggled to find staff, particularly delivery drivers, for 18 months.

But Munns believes he has an ace up his sleeve in attracting talent – the offer of a four-day working week. 

BakedIn offers exclusive kits to subscribers but also sells kits in Tesco,  Ocado and on Amazon

BakedIn offers exclusive kits to subscribers but also sells kits in Tesco,  Ocado and on Amazon

It’s part of BakedIn’s company culture and Munns claims it works well for the business, even with teams split between and office, factory, and distribution centre.

It’s by no means a new concept – Iceland, Spain, New Zealand, and Scotland have all either contemplated or engaged in a pilot to see if dropping a working day is productive.

Munns says: ‘As a start-up, the four-day working week is a great tool to attract great people (when perhaps you can’t offer the highest rates of pay) and aligns with the brand’s family-focused values. 

‘The four-day week remains a huge employee benefit – even as working from home has become more normalised – and boosts loyalty.’

He claims that BakedIn has exceptionally low staff turnover for the industry as a result: ‘It also supports working parents and allows team members to pursue other creative projects and hobbies. 

‘It has been developed sustainably and is built on the foundation that a happy team makes a happy business and happy customers.’

Baking not always basic

While the business boomed in the pandemic, he has faced supply issues – including corrugated boxes. 

During lockdown he felt it best that the company managed its own factory and controlled the production line, but it still meant halving the number of people working in it to comply with social distancing rules.

Christmas 2020 orders were also dramatically saved at the last minute when Munns found another printed corrugated box supplier after one of his larger suppliers let him down. 

In a blog on LinkedIn Munns stresses the importance of forging local relationships: ‘I have no doubt we could shave a few pennies off each box by importing them, but this just highlights to me the importance of genuine relationships in business.’

While local relationships and expansion within the UK is key, the aim is to introduce other markets to the baking kits. 

The business has had some kits shipped off to Ireland and Australia, but the US is the next challenge.

Munns says: ‘We want to significantly grow into the largest baking box subscription club and want to take it to the North American market, which has a positive view on British baking.

‘We want to replicate our success there and over the medium term grow our factory and team size. 

‘We want to potentially expand into Europe, but we’re waiting for things to settle down as logistics has been challenging.’

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