Jamie Palmer started the UK’s destination for socially conscious e-commerce off the back of a stint in the third sector Social Supermarket back in 2018. The competitive rower who was previously Head of Social Enterprise Services at EY Foundation has 12 years of experience in what he calls the “responsible business sector”. One of the growing trends with Millennials and Gen Z has been recognising the need to care for the provenance of goods and also better appreciating their impact on the environment. Jaimie and his cofounders clocked the opportunity when they could not find a site that could cater to their own needs. The first iteration, a Minimal Viable Product (MVP), was simply a directory of brands they thought were in line with the values and ethos of their own brand proposition.
The site really came into its own through the course of the pandemic when their gift boxes proved to be a popular “alternative to a Christmas party” and gifts that loved ones could send each other unable to spend the time together. Social Supermarket launched a hamper with responsible products and they were flying off the warehouse shelves. From selling 750 gift boxes in 2019, the team managed to sell a whopping 12,500 gift boxes through their e-commerce marketplace for both the day to day consumer and also corporate clients such as PwC and others.
Jamie recalls the early days of the site when Matt his co-founder a web developer (someone he met through his passion for rowing) slogged away to create the e-commerce site in just 6 weeks. But it was not a linear journey for the team of three, balancing full time jobs and living in different countries (as one of the cofounders Alex ended up moving to Hong Kong for work). They managed to continue the momentum, balancing work and different time zones, innovating new product ideas such as ethical hampers. Their gifting service caught the attention of corporates such as Johnson & Johnson, SAP and Deloitte, the team knew they were on to something.
The most endearing story about the business is a great example of how Jamie and the team have made their own “luck’. A random cold Linkedin approach from someone who had previously exited his own business to the tune of £50 million, resulted in their first angel investor. 10 calls later over zoom, term sheets were signed and the money was in the bank.
On being asked how the initial business plan related to reality, Jamie told ERLY:
We had built a business plan. We put in projections and have exceeded it three fold this year.
Few businesses hit a startup sweet spot as Social Supermarket has. Anyone that has interacted with Jamie, will see a genuine leader in the making. The world needs authentic products as much as it needs socially responsible and authentic leaders. Check out the growing assortment at the Social Supermarket here. No doubt with more companies than ever before aligning themselves with the need for ever-greater social responsibility, the site is a sure bet for growth. Jamie tells us that he and the team are going to be back out in the market raising their next round later this year. Top of Jamie’s mind right now is continuing to grow the team with top talent (see our jobs listings) and expanding the business in a responsible manner.