Fortunately, Giuseppe had already built some key relationships from his drinks business, and he was able to work his contacts to pin down the key decision makers.
Gusto told Selfridges it had two flavours. Selfridges said, come back when you have four. So they did. And this time they come along with some free advice for the "best department store in the world".
Claudio said, "We went into the store, we took some pictures of the products they had on the shelves. We said, 'This is what you guys have, this is what you guys are lacking, this is how we can help'. So it was that offer of persistence and creativity that helped us get us across the line."
The launch date for Selfridges was September 2022. And they had some thinking to do before that date. With little money, how could they tell the world that Gusto Snacks could be found at the prestigious address of 400 Oxford Street W1A?
Ingenuity, that's how. They turned their lack of money on its head. They took to the streets brandishing cheap cardboard signs with slogans such as "Our marketing budget is as low as our calories - buy our snacks so we can do better."
The took pictures and posted them on social media.
The campaign went viral.
Giuseppe said, "We got 11,000 likes on LinkedIn, 200 shared posts, including from some prominent people in the industry. In the first week the first batch of the snacks were gone."
There was a double boost from the social media campaign too.
Claudio said, "The post generated a lot of interest from organisations and investors reaching out we also happen to be in a moment when we are raising capital for the next stage of the business. What we want to do is use Selfridges as a stepping stone into other retailers."
Gusto Snacks is looking to move 50,000 units this year, but Claudio and Giuseppe have capacity to produce one million. And that’s they're aim now, seeking out high impact investors to move them and their wonky fruit up to the top of the tree.
My top advice to student entrepreneurs
Looking back at his time in higher education, Giuseppe said, "The Giuseppe back then would be quite impressed with what I've become! I was looking to find a job. That's all. I had no idea where I would be.
"So many students think that when you come to university it's about finding a job and that's it. But you can actually create your business here - it's like an incubator - and I hope that we can be an inspiration. There is so much talent around here but it's all about thinking outside the box and going beyond your comfort zone.
"The key differences for me were, coming to uni, having the opportunity to present my work and making mistakes. Some people might think failing in the first business as a failure, but it is a learning curve. Also gaining some contacts in the industry. Networking, meeting people, it changes the game."
Read more about how Gusto Snacks utilised networking for maximum impact.
Find out more about how the University of East London supports entrepreneurs.