Today on episode 3 of the Start Anywhere series, we’re going in depth into Yinka’s story of Sweet Pod. This story reminds you that it’s never too late to start something new.
Leaving a secure and well-paying job can be a daunting prospect, but for former IT specialist Yinka Anidugbe-Olaniyan, it was a risk worth taking back in 2013. After years of feeling like she had gotten what she could from her role, she took the leap of faith and started experimenting with a few other jobs – notably consulting and running a cleaning services company – that worked for a while.
However, once the pandemic hit in 2020 and these jobs came to an abrupt halt, she needed to think of something new. She tapped into an old talent that she had loved as a child, and that was how Sweet Pod came to be.
“I wasn’t so sure exactly what I was doing, but I’d had people over the years tell me that my pancakes were great.”Yinka Anidugbe-Olaniyan, Founder and CEO of Sweet Pod
Yinka always had a passion for baking, dating back to her childhood in Ibadan when she would bake cakes with her mum at home. Fast forward to 2020, she revisited this passion and honed her skills to turn it into a business. She realised that there was a gap in the Nigerian market for high-quality, natural baking ingredients, particularly pancake mixes, that were not imported and unnecessarily expensive. She began testing out various recipes to see what would work. Soon, her friends and family were raving about her pancake, cake, puff puff and pizza crust mixes, and Yinka knew that she was onto something. It’s no surprise that her pancake mix is her best seller.
Despite her talent in the kitchen, Yinka was hesitant to leave her IT job. With two kids still young and in school, she knew what she would be giving up by leaving her comfortable and secure life, and the idea of starting a new business from scratch was daunting. However, she finally took the leap and quit her job to focus on growing Sweet Pod full time.
Yinka was determined to make Sweet Pod a success, challenges and all. She started out small, by selling her products at local farmers’ markets, trade/food fairs and social media. She recalls that her first big order came from FoodCo, a large chain supermarket company in Ibadan. They ordered a range of products, pancake mix, puff puff mix and chocolate cake mix. It was overwhelming, but she did it.
One of the keys to Yinka’s success was her dedication to sourcing only the best ingredients. She knew that if she wanted to differentiate Sweet Pod from other companies of its kind, she had to offer something truly special. She spent countless hours researching and testing different ingredients, building relationships with suppliers and growers, and sourcing the highest quality products from around the world.
What keeps Yinka going, especially when things seem tough? It’s meeting her customers, kids or adults, who tell her they bought her products in supermarkets or online, or that they recognise her. It tells her that she has a community that appreciates her work and wants to keep buying from her.
Even after she left her corporate life, the structured lifestyle was still instilled in Yinka, and she decided that she needed to take her work online, find an application that could help her sell her products online, create invoices and keep track of her orders. So, she created a Flutterwave account and set up a store, where these could be done easily and quickly.
Looking back, Yinka knows that leaving her IT job back in 2013 and her stints in other industries was the best decision she ever made, because Sweet Pod would not have been born without taking those steps. She is proud of what she has accomplished and grateful for the opportunity to do something she truly loves every day.
Starting a business is never easy, but with hard work, dedication and a bit of luck, it’s possible to turn a passion into a successful business venture. Yinka’s story is a testament to this and she hopes that her story, which you can watch here, will inspire others to take risks, follow their passions and start anywhere.
Her mixes are truly delicious! We are not just saying that, we have actually tried them. But don’t just take our word for it, try them yourself. Order from Sweet Pod today!