Founders Interview | Noel Allen @ Noisy Snacks
My Name is Noel Allen but I often refer to myself as "Noisy Noel".
I am a creative, innovative and a highly motived guy from Belfast. I live with my wife, Sarra and our dog, Douglas.
My plan is to (literally) shake up the snacking world while making some noise:
Snacks That Make Noise…
Every pack of Noisy Snacks is a sensory adventure waiting to happen. It’s the chance to try something new, surprise yourself and — most of all — make some noise!
Noise is our secret ingredient because every time you shake a Noisy Snack, you activate the extra flavours - most snack companies use 4% flavouring: we use 8%!
Double the taste. Double the flavour. Double the fun. Nice one.
Our snacks have been designed to trigger your ASMR response (audio sensory meridian response) which elicits sensations of wellbeing.
Why did you become interested in the world of snacks & drinks?
I’m a 90s kid and I always loved snacks and drinks brands and the marketing campaigns behind them.
How they could create a feeling, or a memory attached to them. I love to think of brand ads like, ‘You been Tangoed’ or, ‘Buds What’s UP!!!!!’ or ‘Hula Hoops are round and will be a round for ever!!!!’
Brands have such a connection with us and how they can trigger, experiences of happiness and a positive effect on mood.
What inspired you to do what you do?
I am a huge dreamer and love to imagine what if and what could be.
Hard work and success excites me and doing things what others say are impossible drives me on. I don’t like it when people claim that you can't do something, I always find a way to make it happen.
Being dyslexic I have always felt I could offer something in business that others cannot. I have experienced many situations where I have felt embarrassed when spelling errors were pointed out.
I believe that no matter what learning difficulty you have, you can offer something important to the team.
What current & future trends does your product meet?
The UK government recently release their obesity strategy to help empower everyone with the right information to make healthier choices.
They want to support shoppers to purchase healthier options and shift the balance of promotions to maximise the availability of healthier products. But also the fear of the uncertainty with current affairs such as Brexit and Covid19 plays a big part in customer mental health cases on the raise.
Noisy Snacks supports and partners with customers to offer consumer’s Healthy Snacks + Healthy Mind = Healthy Life.
There is a lot of focus on healthy and healthier snacking and the importance of recyclable packaging in the market.
Noisy Snacks are totally on board with that, you can even hear the scrunch of our 100% recyclable packaging.
But what if we could offer more than just healthier snacking and help to inspire people to trigger a healthier mind?
By offering a new sensory experiences that soothe or make us feel happy, experiences that trigger our autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) which elicits a feeling of calm and relaxation.
We, at Noisy Snacks are on a mission to encourage customers to create their own sensory experience by trying new adventurous flavours and Noisy healthier snacks.
What did you do before starting your company & what made you take the leap into entrepreneurship?
While on placement year in America on a Business and Marketing scholarship I fell in love with marketing and came home to finish my degree with big plans to get a job in marketing.
In my final year module at Uni I won a YCN award.
At the ceremony I got the opportunity to meet the owner of Boost drinks and pitched myself for a job with success.
In the 7 years that I worked for Boost I won the Ulster Grocer’s Marketing Best Brand award and with the team built Boost Energy to the number 1 soft drink brand in retail in N.Ireland, selling 11.4 million units per year.
After deciding it was time to move on from my role at Boost Drinks I was researching for two interviews, one with a craft beer distribution company and the other with a peanut brand manufacturer.
Sitting in on a Friday night tasting the craft beer range while sampling the range of peanuts, I noticed the peanuts give the beer a strange taste.
I did some research around peanuts and flavours that pair with beers to offer a better experience; I couldn't find anything.
After being offered the role with the peanut company with mixed emotions of excitement and sadness I handed in my notice. Within hours the offer was pulled with no reason given.
Feeling lost and out of control I picked myself up and started looking for a new job, but could not get the idea of a better snacking experience out of my head...I began to research and read more about snacks and sensory ASMR experience and decided I was going to make my big idea a reality.
What has been the hardest part of starting your business?
Setting the business up in Jan 2018 I contacted supplier after supplier and could not find anyone willing to work with me.
The suppliers either said "you're too small and won’t be able to purchase MOQ" or, "you will be a competitor and we don’t need any more". Deciding the choice was to either give up or find another way, I decided I would start to develop the flavours first before coming back to the issue of manufacturing.
After creating a number of flavours with a seasoning company, I met with a team of bar managers who work across a number of bars and restaurants in Belfast.
Explaining my concept while setting up the samples, someone asked me what I was doing. After explaining the problem of getting a supplier to work with me, I said I was self-seasoning the snacks for now.
The other members of the team started discussing how much they liked the idea of shaking up your snack to create bolder stronger flavours....From that moment, I decided that NOISE would be our product USP and the packaging/products would be designed to make it work and Noisy Snacks was born.
What has been the BEST mistake you’ve made & why?
Not listening to ‘all the noise’ from other people but going and creating our own Noise.
When we couldn’t find anyone to produce our products at the beginning a lot of people told me I am wasting my time as I had no money and no supplier. It would be a mistake to carry on as I would never go anywhere.
The thing is that the learning I created for myself in turn created our brand and values of who we would become.
What do you think are the key skills required to make yourself & your business a success in the world of snacks & drinks?
I think passion and determination are key to any success.
Having a vision is always something I feel helps me to aim high and progress.
It’s okay to not have all the answers, and knowing that you can learn and develop as you go helps you find your direction.
The most important skill is...heart; nobody can beat someone who doesn’t want to be beaten.
For example after putting our biggest investment to date into research and packaging development and launching just as the world went into lockdown could of silenced us.
Most businesses were trying to do damage control, but Team Noisy had to come out swinging.
In the words of Rocky’s coach Micky “I ain’t heard no bell.”
What is your favourite meal?
I love brunch; French toast with bacon and a coffee is my heaven.
What do you do to make yourself relax?
I like to keep fit and that helps to give me energy and a positive mind.
I have also started to listen to short sensory storyies as I sleep to relax my mind from all the busy noise of the day.
What is your No.1 thing you want to achieve/do on your bucket list?
I am full of energy and take life face on and always coming up with new things I want to do.
My wife (Mrs Noisy) who keeps my feet firmly on the ground, my French Bulldog Douglas (Wee Noisy) and our future is a huge driving factor in becoming an entrepreneur.
I want to provide the best life for my family while riding the wave, fulfilling my dreams of owning a successful brand that I am very proud of, but the number one achievement is to have a baby noisy one day.
Family is everything to me!