Advertisement

Kristian Tapaninaho: bootstrapping his way to success

Kristian Tapaninaho grew Ooni, his pizza-oven business, through "bootstrapping" – quick and successful growth with very little external funding.

Kristian Tapaninaho wanted to achieve the perfect homemade pizza. But there was one thing stopping him from creating the “perfect pepperoni”, says Peter Evans in The Times – his oven wasn’t hot enough. He began looking into pizza ovens, but the cheapest one cost more than £2,000 and was too big to fit inside his house. And so Ooni, the multi-million-dollar company that sells portable pizza ovens, was born. His invention reaches 500˚C and costs from £199. 

Advertisement - Article continues below

Tapaninaho (pictured) runs the business alongside his wife, Darina Garland, both 38, from their headquarters near Edinburgh. They employ 51 people and made sales of £10m in 2018. Ooni is “unusual” in that it has achieved its success through bootstrapping – it grew quickly and successfully with very little external funding. The couple raised a small amount from family and friends and have run three crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter, but they “made a conscious decision to grow the business within its own means and have so far resisted the temptation to take venture capital, despite several offers”. In an age of “unicorns and multimillion-pound funding rounds”, and record levels of investment seeking the next big thing, bootstrapping can seem “old-fashioned”, but it paid off for Ooni. “It can feel like it’s more about how much money you’ve raised than how successful you are,” says Tapaninaho. 

Bootstrapping ensures that founders remain in control and reap the rewards, even if they don’t make as many headlines. It works, too – what started as a “passion project” was named the fastest-growing private business in Scotland, says John-Paul Clark in the Daily Record. 

Its sales have grown by an average of 148% every year. Three-quarters of Ooni’s customers are men. “It’s something to do with mastering fire in the great outdoors,” says Garland.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended

Don’t squeeze our entrepreneurs with higher taxes
Economy

Don’t squeeze our entrepreneurs with higher taxes

Britain’s entrepreneurs and business innovators get generous tax breaks. They should keep getting them.
17 Nov 2019
Philip Day: the retail knight falls off his horse
People

Philip Day: the retail knight falls off his horse

Retail baron Philip Day, once seen as the saviour of the British high street, is under fire for holding to a monastic silence as his suppliers struggl…
26 Jul 2020
Mahmud Kamani: a modern rags-to-riches tale
People

Mahmud Kamani: a modern rags-to-riches tale

Mahmud Kamani turned fast-fashion website Boohoo into a business worth billions. The coronavirus crisis may have brought the company’s biggest challen…
19 Jul 2020
Deadline looms for self-employed to get government help
Small business

Deadline looms for self-employed to get government help

Time is running out to secure help from the first round of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.
3 Jul 2020

Most Popular

Eagle Lightweight GT: the reincarnation of the E-type Jag
Toys and gadgets

Eagle Lightweight GT: the reincarnation of the E-type Jag

Jaguar’s classic E-type sports car has been reinvented for the modern age. The result – the Eagle Lightweight GT – is a thing of beauty.
7 Aug 2020
Should you take advantage of the UK’s new breed of domestic holidaymakers?
Buy to let

Should you take advantage of the UK’s new breed of domestic holidaymakers?

With Britons choosing to holiday in the UK this year, the owners of the country’s holiday cottages are cleaning up. Should you buy in, too? Merryn? So…
10 Aug 2020
The pound has been trending higher against the dollar – will it last?
Sponsored

The pound has been trending higher against the dollar – will it last?

Sterling has been rising against the dollar. Dominic Frisby sets his trend lines in the charts to see where the pound is heading next.
10 Aug 2020