Continuing our Start Your Own series, we interviewed Elsa Valentine, co-founder of Innate Food to find out what it takes to launch a healthy snack business, inspired by the belief that food ought to work with us, not against us. 
I’m Elsa, co-founder of Innate and I love maths, science, nature and patterns.
I was doing commissioned artwork and playing with horses all over the world before it became apparent to me that I was ready for my next challenge.. and this turned out to be ‘INNATE’! I found meaning in the idea of contributing to the marketplace snack-food products that were truly healthful and truly wow on every level.

Tell us a bit about Innate snacks – what are they and how did they come about?

Born of fascination with the multi-spherical impact of food on our entire well-being and inspired by the belief that food ought to work with us rather than against us, we are on a mission to contribute a more imaginative and sensory euphoric solution to the healthy snacking arena; utilising a fusion of science and art to create food which is both in tune with our innate requirements as humans and exceedingly delicious.

Our newly launched products are 100% natural savoury squares, an air-dried snack which combine vegetables, coconut and almond in order to achieve a rare and happy marriage of exquisite flavour, nutritional balance and slow-release sustaining energy. The result of this is an excitingly innovative and intensely satiating category newcomer; packed in eye-catching resealable stand-up pouches, which enable the consumer to snack at their own rate – enjoying longer lasting nutritious sustenance. These stunning ingredients offer a unique, balanced flavour profile and are by default gluten/dairy/grain/soy/refined sugar free as well as vegan friendly and paleo compliant.

Innate don’t cater to passing whims or fad diets. 

Our vision is to create life enhancing food that we are born to eat, supporting people to thrive and feel amazing on every level.

What inspired you to start Innate Food?

We believe that food ought to serve us innately, supporting us to thrive rather than inhibit and accumulatively poison us. Many of the emerging or existing products in this sector are simply different variations of pre-existing products, or single ingredients that have been fried, baked, popped or air/freeze dried. Some are healthy, some are positioned as healthy, not many provide a remarkable consumer experience.

We feel the market is ready for some true innovation, and we exist to be the creative spearheads of this revolution, applying the fullness of our imagination to the task.

What skills did you come to the business with already and how they helped to to grow your business?

The useful skills and attributes I brought to the business, I would say, would first and foremost be creativity from art (I consider food to be another form of art, so it was more of a change of medium). I also think spending a lot of my life with horses helped me develop the broadly fundamental skill of listening, both externally and internally). Observation also plays a part. But most importantly, not taking things personally! That’s a big one to learn to let go of…

When things don’t go to plan, it can be helpful to ask ask ‘what’s right about this!?’

Communicating and connecting with people, as well as being grateful, are also fundamental skills – to me the pattern on our packaging represents our business. We are amidst a gargantuan network of people and moments, all interconnected.. and you never know which moment or connection will turn out to be revolutionary for your company.

That’s why you must pay attention.

How have bloggers / online influencers helped you grow your brand?

We have connected with some amazing bloggers, but haven’t noticed a tremendous impact as a result… but that’s not to say it won’t come!

What’s the most challenging thing about setting up your own healthy snack business?

The cashflow waltz, payment terms – a good idea to keep on top.

What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before you started?

Cashflow is king! No, I’m not really sure.

It has been and remains a phenomenal learning curve.

Maybe that stress is entirely useless and doesn’t serve you in any way – so let it go and stay positive: you are not your business.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own food/snack company?

Listen to your intuition and think laterally. Surround yourself with amazing uplifting people and find ways to stay inspired. Be grateful for everything. Understand that your general multi-spherical wellbeing has a great impact on your business. Never be told you can’t do things differently.

Back yourself, enjoy the process and have fun.


To find out more about Innate, see their website or find them on Instagram