ARTICLE / THE MAKING OF... SERIES
The making of...
Instant noodles. Two words that conjure up memories of childhood dinners and student cuisine. Right? And, depending on where you lived there were those cheap mass-market major brands with obscure ingredient numbers and equally questionable nutritional value. As easy as adding hot water, waiting three minutes, a quick stir, and then eating. Well, that was then and this is now. The market has shifted, become healthier, and a heap more fun. Enter London chef Carl Clarke (founder of Chick N’Sours) and partner, Jono Holt (founder of Otherway Design Agency) who had a serious appetite for noodles... well Future Noodles to be exact.
The making of... Series
Jono, take us back to the start. Where was the idea for Future Noodles born?
Friend and chef Carl Clarke was in our office a few years ago and told us how after cooking in a kitchen all day the only thing he wanted to eat was instant noodles. He was a connoisseur of instant noodles and used to pimp them up to make them healthy. We asked him whether it was possible to make them super healthy in the first place. That was the beginning of Future Noodles.
What research did you do to arrive and what you've got now? How did you test your product-market fit?
We ate lots of noodles. Carl already knew the market and he taught us well. We knew there was nothing out there that managed to put taste and health together, so the product-market fit was clear. We just knew it was hard to achieve.
Carl Clarke, Founder of Future Noodles
Sounds like fun. How did you fund everything?
During the lockdown, my agency Otherway was hit pretty hard by clients dropping off. It showed us how vulnerable we were as a business and how dependent on the decisions of other people. We decided it was time to create our own brands - something we had discussed a lot, so we set aside some money and got on with it.
What were the first batches of the noodles like?
Good. Carl is a bit of a maverick chef and he linked up with a brilliant nutritionist and food development team. The first batch was next-level delicious but full of salt. So the challenge was to make them healthy. Making instant noodles tasty is easy. Making instant noodles healthy is hard. We’re super-proud of what we have today but this is just the beginning and the product will always be improved as we try and reach perfection.
Branding? Tell us about your process and how you arrived at where you are today with Future Noodles?
We got the name early on. We wanted it to be clear, different, and bring something new to the market. The noodle market is full of mad colours and characters so we had rich inspiration. One of the designers wrote down “space-age noodles sent down to earth” and we used that as the idea. Someone said the other day they are retro-futuristic which we liked. The infinity noodle logo is a nod to the partnership the brand has with the food charity Fare Share and our belief to do some good- what goes around comes around.
Finally, how are you getting the word out there? How are you scaling the brand?
We are one month in and going strong. We have a good PR agency working hard with us to get the word out there along with our in-house performance marketing team who are pushing it in the digital channels. We are still very much in the learning mode but the metrics are looking good so we are going to scale it as fast as possible. The business is majority DTC but you’ll see us pop up in some cool hotel minibars and a few other places to get the word out there.