Timmy's Pies was started from the humble beginnings of a Chelsea market stall, and now supplies some of the finest delis across the capital including Harvey Nichols, Wholefoods and The People's Supermarket. Founder Tim Wilkes abandoned an academic career to turn his passion into a business, teaming up with pastry lecturer Ben Christopherson, previously a chef at The Goring and Harrods. Like many start-up food businesses, the founders required ingenuity and enthusiasm to make up for a lack of initial cash investment.
Tim takes up the story, explaining the role social media has played in spreading the word about Timmy's Pies. “We had a great product, but only a small investment. Far from viewing this as a negative, we looked on this as a challenge. Starting from a market stall was brilliant – for minimal cost, we could test our pies and listen to customer feedback, adapting as we went along.
When it comes to marketing and branding we've had to be very inventive. We don't have a full website at present, just a blog that we regularly update. It's an informal and engaging communication channel that has allowed us to develop the voice of our brand organically.
Twitter, in particular, has been a god-send; allowing us to build up personal relationships with big customers you'd never normally get to chat to, while also keeping us in touch with individual enthusiasts. We used the trending topic #Britishpieweek to launch a competition to suggest amusing pie fillings, the winner getting their recipe made into a pie. This resulted in a 16% increase in followers and great material, which we used on our blog.
It was through Twitter that we were contacted by Lurpak to do a live Q&A session on their Facebook page during the 'Jamie's 30 Minute Meals' pie episode – again, great publicity. There will come a point when this is not enough, when we'll need a flashy website, fantastic packaging and lovely POS if we're to compete, but until then we're going to carry on making awesome pies, taking all the advice we can get… and tweeting".