Meet the GlowgetterRyan Panchoo, Founder of vegan doughnut delivery sensation Borough 22

By Glowcation
15 May '20

Looking for vegan, gluten-free and award-winning doughnuts that can be delivered to your door in a pandemic?

Borough 22 first caught our attention when we went to a baby shower back when we were allowed to meet in groups and Ryan Panchoo’s doughnuts were handed round to the gluten intolerant.

They were so good we ordered another box straight away and now they are one of our favourite vegan treats.

Deliver them to a loved one to put a smile on their face or send some to yourself if you need cheering up. We wanted to know how Ryan started his journey to create one of our favourite treats.

What was your lightbulb moment for setting up Borough 22?

It was back in 2012 when my wife @thelondonmother was invited to press events where there would be a host of goodies on offer for our children but none of which was allergen-free. It really frustrated me that they couldn’t have any of the wonderful looking treats that they were surrounded by. It was absolute torture for them.

It was very difficult explaining to a 2-year old why he couldn’t have that cake or cookie.

I decided enough was enough. I would come up with something myself just for them. It was a labour of love with many trials and many errors but I came up with several recipes that really worked. I was then coerced or rather ordered by my wife into setting up Borough 22 in October 2014 in a bid to stop me giving away my goods for free.

What was your journey to this moment?

It’s been a real rollercoaster. Bake a good brownie, cake or doughnut then I’m your guy. Run a business? completely different ball game. I’ve had to learn every aspect of it but I’ve had tremendous support.

Our first major stockist was Selfridges back in April 2015. They held our hand through the process of setting up and supplying a retail stockist. That then meant that we were prepared for every stockist we engaged with afterwards. Many have commented on how slick our set up is which is awesome given that we are dealing with allergen-free products.

It has been tough, doing everything single-handedly and then going from working full time, running the business on the side to 100% full time. February 2017 was a major struggle for me. To get my head around working for myself, unconventional hours, time management really took its toll on my mental and physical health.

But I had great support from stockists such as the Erin of the Broca and Vicky (we have regular quarterly meetings) of Good Food and Ruth and Darren who ran Timberyard coffee. We managed to put systems in place, employ staff to get the business working in a structured way. As much as 3am starts are structured!

What are your dreams for the business?

Simple really. I want as many people as possible to have access to our amazing doughnuts. I’d like to see the business grow so that we can supply more stockists and maybe even have a couple of outlets ourselves or mobile outlets.

What was the best bit of advice you were ever given for setting up your own business?

There are so many useful gems that have been shared with me along the way. One of the best was to jump on your emails.

When you receive an email from a potential client it means they are thinking about you, you have their attention.

The trick is to keep the conversation going. Its surprising what you can achieve over 5 minutes of back and forth emails, which could if left unchecked, take months to iron out.

What is the best bit of advice you can give to someone thinking of starting a plant-based business?

Do your research. Check out what is already out there. Try to understand why companies are doing the things they do, making the decisions they are making which will help to build a clear vision of what you want your business to achieve.

This vision is what will drive you. You need that drive to make anything you work at successful.

Why gluten-free? Why vegan? Why doughnuts?

Gluten-free was the main goal. Whatever I made it had to be gluten-free as that was my wife’s main allergy and we discovered that there was a severe lack of options at the time. Vegan – because, quite frankly, I was fed up of telling people which doughnuts were vegan and which were not.

The actual doughnut was vegan it was just the topping like Nutella or Salted caramel that were not so I made the decision to make everything vegan and gluten-free.

It felt amazing to be able to tell people that they could have anything on display.

I remember a sampling I did at Selfridges Manchester where a young lady came up to see what was on offer.

I purposely was not advertising the doughnuts as gluten-free or vegan just to get customers to try them first. This particular lady declined, stating that she was vegan. I told her that they were vegan, you would have thought that I told her she had won the lottery initially, but her excitement died down as she said she was coeliac too. I told her that they were also gluten-free and I had made them myself this morning.

She burst into tears of joy. More tears followed when she ate some. Honestly, moments like that remind me of why I started the business. They keep me grounded and fuel my drive.

When you are gluten intolerant the things you miss the most are gluten-containing products like bread and pasta and pastries. About 10 years ago we had a cupcake boom because they are so versatile in flavours and decorations. I think doughnuts are the same in that respect. Most people love a good doughnut.

What are the highs and lows of running a vegan business?

The highs are creating something that is not full of junk that actually tastes indulgent.

The misconception that vegan food is boring and plain and unadventurous has been well and truly dispelled now.

People are getting creative and making food that equals or surpasses the non-vegan equivalent. I guess the lows are the trial and error period where you see something that looks amazing and you try to make a vegan version of it but it doesn’t quite work. To be fair I could probably get there but I’m also running a business and have a young family.

Where are your 3 favourite organic places to eat?

A bit of a cheat but the first has to be right here at home. We rustle up some amazing food here with a heavy focus on flavour over presentation.

That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

My friend Boris runs B-Raw Cakes, a plant-based cheesecake bakery in North London. The cakes are beautiful and in all honesty taste even better than they look. It’s been great seeing him grow from strength-to-strength.

Rock My Bowl. Not a store but a catering company run by Rebecca Rhodes-Evans. She caters for a lot of corporate clients, photo and video shoots and events and is now offering a door-step delivery service in the Brockley SE4 are of London where her kitchen is based.

If you are fortunate enough to be at an event she has catered then you will shed a tear as you eat. She nails the presentation and flavours exceptionally every single time. and will always use organic where possible. She knows where to source the best everything in London too

What are your top 5 things that make you glow?

Spending time with the family away from the kitchen. Just being able to relax and do something fun with them.

Getting a lay in or a mini staycation when we are not going through a pandemic. I recently stayed at The Native apartment hotel in Manchester and it was amazing. Amazing location, amazing room, amazing amenities, amazing food and coffee. They exceeded everything I could have ever hoped for. Such a treat.

Holidays. The whole experience from driving to the airport, to duty-free, to the flight. I love it .I can’t wait for life to return to a new normal.

Adapting our recipe to suit someone with specific allergies. We have done this numerous times and have even launched a Low FODMAP range of doughnuts. The emails, DMs and Tweets we receive when our customers receive their doughnuts is overwhelming. Truly glow-inducing.

Cook Daily’s Pad Thai. Honestly, if you have not been before then you need to make a pilgrimage to one of King’s stores after Lockdown. Yes, it’s vegan but more than that, its just absolute glow in a bowl.

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