Man who left school with just one GCSE now owner of £ 35million business



After investing £ 3,000 of their own money to bring healthy food business The Skinny Co. to life from their garage, James and Wayne now hope to take on the United States.

Skinny Food Co. has been called to Dragon’s Den twice since its inception

A man who left school with a GCSE and dreamed of starting a business is now part owner of a £ 35million food business.

Healthy eating brand The Skinny Food Co. was started by co-founders Wayne Starkey, 41 from Blackpool, and James Whiting, 29 from Nottingham just over three years ago.

Wayne grew up in a one-bed municipal apartment in Blackpool and received a GCSE through his education, but his dedication to the job spurred him on to success with entrepreneur best friend James.

The couple were originally inspired by family members who found they were excluded from much of the food market because they had diabetes.

Last year the company made £ 17.2million and that figure is expected to rise to £ 35million this tax year.

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Co-founders: Wayne Starkey and James Whiting [right]


The Skinny Food Co)

Investing just £ 3,000 of their own money to make their idea a reality, in the first 12 months alone they have sold over a million bottles of their healthy sauces, including ketchup, barbecue sauce and curry from fries.

All products are gluten free, fat free, dairy free, suitable for vegans and diabetics, no added sugars.

“I started working in my garage while James worked in his bedroom at home,” Wayne told the Mirror.

“The idea arose out of something quite simple actually. James and I both have family members with diabetes who have been forced to give up their favorite foods.

“We saw a gap in the market and wanted to create a world where everyone can enjoy healthy and tasty food, including those with food intolerances, allergies, and dietary restrictions for those who just want to reduce their sugar. consumption.

“It was about providing an alternative – none of the calories or the sugar, but all of the taste,” Wayne said.

The company was inspired by family members with diabetes


The Skinny Food Co)

Speaking about the duo’s collaboration, James said he went into labor after losing a child.

“I worked for six or seven different companies at a time, often working 16-hour days. It acted as a coping mechanism for me – that’s how I first met Wayne, ”he said.

James, who is on the Forbes Under 30 list, explains: “I still have a hard time disconnecting and working really long hours, but I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish so far and am excited for the future. It feels good to make a difference in the lives of others. “

Interestingly, the couple were twice invited to feature their business on Dragon’s Den, but declined both times.

Their ambition is to have a range of 350 products by the end of this year and 1,000 products within five years.

Wayne explains, “To be honest, the biggest challenge has been keeping up with the demand – a nice problem to have!

“Our warehouse started out as a mix of my garage and James’ bedroom, and at first it was a real challenge with stock and then between four different warehouses. We were forced to move to a warehouse in Nottingham while trying to run the business from Blackpool. The move allowed us to combine the four warehouses into one.

You might recognize their products on Morrisons shelves


The Skinny Food Co)

The duo currently have 222 products in 22 categories and hope to expand them to 350 products by the end of this year and 500 over the next five years.

Wayne adds, “We are now a team of 30 and have five warehouses. One of them is ours, and four are external – all are in and around the Nottingham area.

Skinny Food Co. products, now a collective of 222, ranging from sauces and syrups to high-protein, low-sugar snacks, cooking spray, flavored coffees, take-out sauces and more are stocked in supermarkets such as Morrisons. , Co-op, Home Bargains, TK Maxx, SPAR, B&M Bargains and Lidl.

“Our items range from RRP £ 1.99 to £ 6.49,” says Wayne.

“From concept to creation, including the presentation of our products on the supermarket shelves, I am really proud of what we have accomplished. Being able to replicate this abroad while continuing to grow in the UK is what excites me the most in terms of the future! “

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