Joe talks about his journey, the highs and the lows, from creating an app worth millions of pounds to recently winning a place to study an MBA at Stanford in the US.
What were your plans after leaving Radley?
I went to Trinity College Dublin where I studied English Literature and History. I didn’t have a particular career path in mind at the time, in fact I had no idea what I wanted to do. I certainly wasn’t interested in business.
Yet you started your own business?
Yes, I came up with the idea for Raffler when I was in my third year. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but having seen people close to me struggle to find work, I decided I didn’t want to be dependent on the approval of others. I wanted to be in charge of my own destiny and creating a business seemed like the obvious way to do this.
Tell me about Raffler.
It was a simple idea: People watched two 30 second adverts on our app (Raffler), and in turn gained the chance to win £1,000. A winner was selected at random, so everyone had an equal chance.
We grew it very quickly to over 250,000 users.
It’s hard to believe, but not that long ago showing video ads on an app was an innovative offering. Before Facebook swallowed the online video ad market, companies would pay lots to apps such as Raffler to show their adverts. In 2017, Raffler was the top trending app on Apple’s app store in the UK, and the number one lifestyle app. Its success even made national papers.
Unfortunately, Apple changed their policies on how advertising can be used in apps. What was a multi-million-pound business went to zero pretty much overnight.
What did you do next?
I started working at Unidays, they provide discounts from leading brands to students all over the world. It was my responsibility to find and bring new products to market. Developing new app solutions for students was also part of my remit.
It was fun and interesting, but definitely a little crazy. In my free time, while at both Raffler and Unidays, I helped set up and run Mob Kitchen.
When lockdown hit, it was clear that Mob Kitchen was growing very fast and needed more time than I was able to give it while working at Unidays. In addition, I wanted to launch a D2C (direct-to-consumer) intimate health business. So, I quit my job and jumped back into entrepreneurship.
How did you get involved with Mob Kitchen?
After setting up Raffler, lots of people started coming to me for advice about creating their own businesses. Ben was one of them. Having grown Raffler through influencer marketing, I understood the power of the sector, and was looking for ways to be involved with it. Moreover, Ben’s passion, energy, and drive were overwhelming. I believed in him as much as influencer marketing. So much so that I decided to invest what money I had into Mob Kitchen, which for four years was the only investment the business took on.
Tell me about Mob Kitchen.
It’s about food. It started as a little Facebook page and has just kept growing. We now have more than 2 million followers across social media.
Years ago, Ben noticed the virality of “food porn”, and was confident there would be an even greater market for real food videos. Food that people would actually cook. Two years ago we had five employees and now we’re up to 50. Last year we moved into big professional studios that we built in East London and have already outgrown them.
What’s next for Mob Kitchen?
Recently, we rebranded as the Mouth Group because the name Mob Kitchen no longer reflected the total business. Mouth now encompasses Mob, Juiced –a celebrity chef talent agency, and Peckish, an app we will soon be launching.
We’ve also recently started a vegan media brand and aim to start a healthy food one too. You should also look out for Mob kitchenware products and a paid subscription offering that we’ll be releasing in a year or so.
Given that Mouth Group is all social media based, are you followers mainly the younger generation?
Our demographic target is 21 to 32 year olds, they make up 60% of our audience. Which means we do have ‘older’ followers as well! The question is, do we stick with the 21 to 31 year age group or grow old with them?
What does the future hold for you?
In the near future I’ll be moving to Palo Alto in California. I recently won a place to study an MBA at Stanford, which I hope to use as a steppingstone to launch the Mouth Group and my D2C business in the USA, as well as to finding new opportunities.
What do you remember about your school days?
I remember Radley, in the main, fondly. I think boarding school led me to having quite a romantic view of life afterwards, since one of the only ways to experience it was through books and films. It was, a bit unusually, the likes of Leonard Cohen, Humphrey Bogart and Hemmingway that did it for me.
Although the first few years were fairly spartan, I enjoyed sixth form a lot. I’m still very close with seven or eight people from Radley, friendships that mean a lot to me.
To find out more about mob kitchen, visit their website.