Chris Homes, CEO, SMASH

SMASHco (t/a SMASH) secures £1 million Seed investment led by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity

  • Major shareholding from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity secured to launch the “Young Person’s Railcard for healthy food”
  • SMASH app to offer up to 20% discount on healthier food options at food-to-go retailers
  • Offers retailers opportunity to shine a light on existing healthier products
  • Investment at a time when the hospitality industry needs a boost
  • London’s child-obesity Tsar, Paul Lindley as Chairman

SMASH, a new app that aims to help reduce obesity among young adults by giving 13 to 24 year olds up to 20% discount on healthier* food options at ‘food to go’ retailers has closed its first round of funding with £1million investment. Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, the London based urban health foundation, is a major shareholder – supporting the start-up to rebalance promotions from less healthy products towards healthier alternatives.

Launching in early 2021, SMASH, Save Money and Stay Healthy, is the brainchild of ex-KFC board member Chris Holmes who led the launch of QSR’s largest loyalty platform, the Colonel’s Club, with 3.5m active users. Most recently MD at Ask Italian, Holmes has an MBA from London Business School and is ex PwC. SMASH has London’s child obesity Tsar and the founder of leading organic baby food brand Ella’s Kitchen, Paul Lindley, as Chairman, with Jenny Rosborough, Registered Nutritionist, on the advisory board.

Holmes came up with the idea of the app while at KFC, realising that a system that bans the bad and doesn’t promote the good could be slow at effecting change. He was convinced that there was another demand-led way to meet the challenge of obesity in young people – SMASH is his solution. Targeting the 9 million 13 to 24 year olds in the UK – at a critical time when they first start making their own decisions about food and building long-term dietary habits. Holmes has garnered support from BiteBack 2030, a youth-led alliance which is redesigning the food system to put young people’s health first.

SMASH will be free to download and straightforward to use, showing the closest participating outlets as well as the healthier options to choose from. The menu can be browsed by retailer, nutrition content, food type and even by vegetarian/vegan and gluten free.  Users just choose one of the healthier options at their favourite retailer as displayed on the SMASH menu, place an order as usual and scan the SMASH QR code at the point of sale for an instant discount. Trusted age verification software on sign-up ensures eligibility.

Holmes says:

“We are looking to launch in early 2021 and are already actively engaged in conversations with a number of the UK’s leading food to go and restaurant brands in order to nudge SMASH users into a surprisingly broad range of lower calorie options with up to 20% discount on all healthier items. It’s a straightforward idea applied to a massively complex problem shaped by environment and income inequality. So we need to change the dynamic and make healthier food the cheaper and most accessible option – essentially we plan to be the Young Person’s Rail Card for healthy food – albeit digital, free and fun.”

Commenting on his involvement, Lindley said: 

“I’m so excited to be part of the SMASH team, as we have the potential to deliver everything I always look for in the perfect business: innovation, social impact, financial return and inspiration to everyone in its space.  I believe SMASH will help young adults eat healthier diets, encourage retailers to innovate and market healthier foods, provide compelling evidence to Government to act and reduce VAT on healthier foods and reward investors with a sustainable, profitable and decent growing business.”

Holmes believes that as well as creating a wave of demand for healthier food options, SMASH will also give retailers access to a direct to consumer marketing channel for existing healthier products, a place to test and showcase new products, and in time could replace traditional student discount platforms with something that might be lower cost and that can promote healthier options to all young adults, not just higher education students. The SMASH team are currently offering free range consulatations to any food retailers or restaurants that would like to learn more about the platform.

A detailed insights study commissioned by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity prior to its investment revealed the high and unmet demand for an app like SMASH that makes healthier options more affordable.

Kieron Boyle, CEO at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity says:

“We’re very excited to be supporting this new platform. The places kids hang out are flooded with prompts to eat unhealthily — especially in poorer areas. We need new thinking like SMASH to put healthier food centre stage. We’re delighted to see businesses and investors stepping up to their responsibility to ensure that all children grow up healthily, no matter where they live.”

Holmes concludes:

“With Covid shining a light on the risks associated with obesity and the Government’s decision to ban unhealthy food advertising both online and on television before 9pm, this is absolutely the time to create an environment where healthier options are more affordable, accessible and engaging to young adults. Let’s do it together.”

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Press contact: Jenny [email protected] (07974) 097451
www.smashco.co.uk