We’ve all been told a million times that breakfast is the most important meal of the day – yet how many of you just grab a cup of coffee on the way into work to keep you going until lunchtime? What with sorting kids out for school, sitting in traffic or rushing off for the morning meeting, we just don’t have time to prepare something wholesome and filling. Hannah McDuffus spotted this enormous gap and aimed to fill those morning tummies.

Tell us a bit more about your business and what it offers

BNB is a unique breakfast delivery service, currently covering South East London and East London. We deliver piping hot breakfasts to homes and workplaces across London. On the 9th of August we will also be launching our sister company RoasTTT to deliver a full roast to your door – exciting times!

And your target audience? Did you see this gap in the market that needed to be filled?

BNB’s target audience ranges from working professionals, families, single people, students and workplaces – basically anyone that has a mouth (laughs)! I feel BNB has come at the right time, as people are becoming aware of the benefits of breakfast, yet still have not allowed enough time into their lives to fit it in (crazy as it sounds as it’s not often we would forget dinner!). BNB has solved the constant ask of “why doesn’t anyone deliver breakfast?” Well now someone does. BedNBreakfastt! Problem solved!

Since there are countless local cafés offer breakfasts, what makes your business unique?

We bring Breakfasttt to you! We create convenience whilst still appreciating using quality produce and local business to help bring this service together. We differ from other businesses as there is no other breakfast delivery in this area or food delivery services open and ready to deliver from 7am. I have created an authentic and unique service that I am proud of.

startup_hannah mcduffus

How long have you been working on this idea?

All my life! I just didn’t know it! Corny I know but I really feel that way! But in real time I decided that I was going to start BNB on the 6th of January and I was open on February 14th. I really must admit I kept it hush hush, and didn’t tell many friends and family. I started an Instagram account on January 6th and that’s where it all started going absolutely crazy. I began selling the idea before I had invested anything into it and within 4 weeks I was open.

What makes you so passionate about your business and where did the idea for it come from?

My passion for my business goes back to my days of teaching. I truly understood the importance of breakfast and the effects and benefits it has on us all, and with this I set up a school breakfast club. The school I worked in at the time were not too sold on the club but passion pushed through and led me to start the club myself. A colleague and I used our own money to buy crockery and food to get started. I also wanted to make this a free service for attendees as there were many free school meal children using the club.

My goal was to make the club an extension of home – a chance to talk to our kids in a less formal way – before their very long and tiring day. It was not only about making sure they had a good breakfast but it taught great social skills and citizenship, they completed homework, played chess and would have weekly spelling competitions (highlight of our Friday). The club built such an infectious community spirit and we were a little breakfast family. But the idea however, originated from my time living in Taiwan. Food there was and is taken very seriously and it was here I found breakfast delivery! I found this genius as I had no kitchen! We had nothing like that over here and I was determined to bring this back home!

And your personal background? How did you come from studying or working to running your own thing?

My background is in Drama and Performing Arts. I have an HND in Performing Arts – I gained a distinction and was accelerated to the last year of the Media Performance degree. I left university with a 2:1, but it was so hard to find a job! So off I went to Taiwan for a year and a half, it was the making of me! On my return home I began applying for any job with the word media in it! I then found myself working for the Independent Newspaper – after much calling and emailing until I convinced the manager at the time to have me in for an interview. I was made redundant after a year.

I then went on to work for the New Nation and Asian Times Newspaper, but I grew bored of the media sales role and wanted to do something more rewarding. I got my first teaching post as an unqualified teacher of Drama. I left teaching in 2014 and have not looked back! And that’s why I said earlier that I have been working on this all my life as all these varied roles have given me vast experiences and lessons to be able to go it alone!

Tell us a bit more about your background and your childhood? Were there any entrepreneurs in your family who influenced you?

My mum was a young mum and had me at 18! Now being a mum myself I can now see why she worked so hard, as I feel she had so much more to prove, My nan and mum have both had their own businesses and my nan had stalls on the Electric Avenue in Brixton market.

From as far back as I could remember I would go to work with her as my mum would work Saturdays. I was in my element – my nan would set me a sales target every Saturday and I would always surpass it and then go and spend my earnings in Woolworths!

My mum worked from home as a hairdresser and again from as far back as I could remember. I would always be woken by the sounds of blow dryers, doorbells ringing, phones ringing, but it was normal and what was nice was that my mum was always home! (There went the sneaking anybody home whilst your mums at work trick!) Eventually my mum bought a hairdressing shop on Jamaica Road, I was so proud of her and would often be in there helping her out and getting on customers’ nerves!

startup_McDuffus family

Was there any particular event that happened that inspired you to be on this path today? 

I remember whilst living in Taiwan my mum came over to visit me for the first time. She was totally blown away by the whole cultural difference and even more impressed with the Chinese that I had learnt that would often help her barter on the many things she bought in the Ximending night market!

I remember us being in the living room of my apartment in Taiwan one night and my mum turning to me and saying “Hannah I am so proud of you, you are my inspiration,” – as I say this now you can see a tear comes to my eyes! This meant everything to me, as this was the woman I looked up to – stole her clothes, make up, perfume – just to emulate both who and what she was and still is – up to this day – THE most inspirational woman in the world. That and that moment alone has inspired me to do what I am doing and not be afraid.

And the most exciting or inspirational moment to date in running your own business?  

BNB opening! It was one of the scariest days of my life! I didn’t sleep until God knows when that night! I set up a pre-ordering system and was very strict about not taking telephone orders. By Friday I had 2 pre-orders and they were both for Sunday. I continued on until the night. Fast forward to Saturday 14th and I woke up at 5am got ready, turned the oven on, and then at 7:46 the phone rang and it didn’t stop until Sunday 6pm.

Firstly what that taught me was people hate to conform and you kind of just have to let things go and wait, it taught me to be prepared for success! And you will not fail! That weekend launch went with a real bang!

And the toughest moment?

This whole experience so far has been tough! I think starting your own business generally is! And actually when really thinking about it, I think stand out tough times would have to be knowing when to call “Time”! And switch off. I started the business with the notion that working from home and having something I could call my own would only give me enough time to spend doing just that! It has actually been even harder.

With your own business it’s round the clock work, and because I don’t have all the help that the bigger businesses have available to them, I initially found it tough finding the rough work/life balance and I don’t think it will ever change to be honest, as a mum and a business owner there is always something to be getting on with, you just have to really abandon one or the other for a while without the guilty feeling creeping in!

Easier said than done, but I am learning more each day to just switch off and concentrate on what it is I’m doing at that time and doing it well! Instead of doing it half-hearted and feeling guilty to the point where you give yourself twice the work because you end up redoing it.

Where do you want your business to be in 3 years’ time?

I see BNB being a household name! I would love a BNB in all 26 boroughs! With at least 3 stores nationwide!

And one bit of advice for someone considering starting their own business?

Don’t be afraid to fail! Prepare for success!