Cat Gazzoli is the co-founder of Piccolo, the organic, Mediterranean-inspired baby food pouches. Before setting Piccolo up, Cat Gazzoli worked in the charitable sector of the food world. Cat began her career with the United Nations food agencies in Rome, where she created campaigns and programmes promoting sustainable livelihoods for farmers, as well as promoting female parity and equal opportunities. She then became the CEO of Slow Food UK, the global campaigning organisation for good, clean and fair food. During her career, Cat has launched programmes across the UK with the NCT and Piccolo’s sister charity, The Food Education Foundation, to help families consider the provenance and nutritional make-up of what they put on their plate. She is a founding member of Luke Johnson’s Centre of Entrepreneurs, was a finalist for Enterprise Nation’s Female Entrepreneur of the Year in late 2016 and has just been shortlisted for The Grocer’s Entrepreneur of the Year.
What inspired you to launch Piccolo?
Before Piccolo, my background was in the charity sector with the UN and Slow Food, with a focus on food provenance and food education. I have always been a passionate campaigner for good, healthy sustainable food, and I saw this missing from the baby food offering available at the time.
Since launch Piccolo has grown from 6 products in one supermarket to 40 plus products stocked across all the big grocery retailers. I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to achieve: we are the UK’s fastest growing organic baby food brand 2 years in a row! We’ve also been able to work with Tesco to reduce child hunger through our One for One campaign, donating pouches to families in need.
What do you love most about your job and what has been the highlight for you so far?
I love that at Piccolo we are able to make a difference – from making it that bit easier for families to pick up delicious and nutritious baby food, to our focus on ethical sourcing of ingredients, to our initiatives giving back to the community – via campaigns like One for One and our sister charity the Food Education Foundation.
What have been the challenges you have faced being a female entrepreneur?
Not specific to being female per se but in the early stages of the businesses it was challenging to find investors who both shared my social values and represented a range of ethnically diverse backgrounds. I was lucky to find Allbright’s Anna Jones who shared my vision, and as a mum herself understood how important health and education around first foods are. A shared mission between a business and it’s investors is key to the long term success of the investment partnership & the quality of support an investor can give.
More than a quarter of Piccolo’s funding comes from female investors. What were the challenges you faced during the funding process and what would you say to female founders seeking investment?
Only 1 in 10 UK investors is female so it’s challenging for brands to find female investment, but the value women can bring as investors is, in my view immense, and so I would urge all founders – male and female – to seek out female investment and mentorship. I’m thrilled to see more and more female founders achieving great things, particularly within the FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods) space.