We’re looking for our first entrepreneur in residence!

Our objective at The StartupKitchen is simple. It’s to help other Founders, often first time entrepreneurs from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds. Our organisation was founded and funded by experienced entrepreneurs to help other entrepreneurs and the charity has gone from strength to strength over the last few years.

The founders Chris Bowden, Jason Goodman and new mentor in residence Craig Cesman have been lucky to have started and built a number of businesses and are very happy to share knowledge and help others who want to do the same. At Startup Kitchen we seek out and are lucky to find brilliant men & women who have an idea, the right enquiring attitude and the talent to start a business. But they lack the network, resources and connections to help them get their idea up and running. We measure success by seeing other entrepreneurs getting their businesses launched, hiring people and creating happy customers. Whilst we’ve had some success we’ve also made plenty of mistakes and are happy to share all this. We are joined each month by a long list of other proven entrepreneurs/mentors (Saul and Alex Klein, Niklas Zennstrom, Richard Reed amongst many more) who are all happy to share some of their own tips and tricks. We meet and mentor at the StartupKitchen month in and month out and have done this since 2014. We all love it. It’s satisfying to meet and help other Founders who are on the way up, particularly if they come from tough backgrounds. We’ve also grown a fantastic and supportive network of partners which provide additional opportunities for young entrepreneurs to connect with the wider tech and startup eco-system.

We’ve created an exciting new opportunity for an up and coming founder at the StartupKitchen. The role will offer one ambitious start-up founder the chance to become the Startup Kitchen’s first Entrepreneur In Residence. This is a role which will allow them to build their own business with the support and network of our Chief Mentors whilst also helping to run TheStartupKitchen monthly mentoring session. It’s a 12 month brief and its perfect for a founder who is very early in their new business. We all know this early point where you still need to keep money coming in via other jobs. One of these jobs could be this one.

So what will an EIR at the StartupKitchen actually do?

Our candidate will be a passionate startup founder in the early stages of their business and you would ideally have a minimum viable product. We’re not here to tell you what to do, so we’re looking for a self-starter, someone who is used to juggling numerous responsibilities in order to get their business off the ground.

Your primary responsibility will be to run the monthly mentoring session and to do this we are asking for you to work one day a week which you will fit around building your own start up and as EIR. You will represent The StartupKitchen and everything we are trying to do, building on the fantastic platform and infrastructure already in place.

You will have the opportunity to network widely with other mentors and business leaders so we’re looking for a great communicator who wants to help others like themselves learn how to build their business. Many of the skills needed to be EIR of the Start up Kitchen will be directly transferable to your start up including finding talent (other mentees) leading on communications and social media, organizing the monthly mentoring sessions and managing partnerships.

In return, the chief mentors will work with you on a monthly basis to help you develop and grow your business by providing advice and mentoring and introductions to our extensive network. We’ll also support you with £1,000 per month to help cover some of your costs and support you in raising money for your start up. The cash will hopefully be useful but we think the mentoring support from the three of us will probably prove even more valuable.

If you’re interested in the opportunity then please send a one page statement by Wednesday 17th May to Fay.Cannings@albion.co summarising an overview of you and your business and why you think you would make a great StartupKitchen Entrepreneur in Residence.

MENTOR OF THE MONTH

instagram_grid

 

Lisa Williams is one of the fantastic female founders who mentors at our flagship monthly mentoring sessions providing sound business advice, inspiration and amazing contacts – we enjoyed having Lisa at our March session.

After been a successful journalist working at Conde Nast, and the Press Association, Lisa decided to make the leap to entrepreneurship after having her first baby and realising there was a calling! She founded TantrumXYZ – ‘networking, inspiration, and shopping for modern parents.’ Lisa gives us an insight into her startup world and what inspires her to be involved with the SUK!

Tell us a bit about you and your career before setting up TantrumXZY?

I’ve always liked to talk, listen and write so journalism seemed a good career choice for me. I started as a local news reporter, covering crime, politics and health. I then went into the world of entertainment reporting: doing interviews, set visits and red carpets come rain or shine. From assistant features editor at Press Association to Conde Nast, where I edited Tatler’s website for three years, pulling stunts such as ‘Guess the royal bottom’ and ‘If Kate Middleton were a hipster’. When I went on maternity leave, I struggled to find interesting journalism to match my new experience, so TantrumXYZ was born.

What was the main driver behind founding TantrumYXZ?

There is plenty of good parenting content around the web, just as there are plenty of nice kids’ clothes and toys which don’t cost the earth, it just takes a long time to find it all. New parents don’t have time, and so TantrumXYZ was set up to do parents a favour: we trawl the web for the best writers, podcasters, filmmakers and photographers and present an edit of brilliant content alongside an online shop where parents can buy cool stuff for their kids quickly and easily.

How is TantrumXYZ different to other on line market spaces for parents?

Our main point of differentiation, and one that I am extremely proud of, is that we appeal to parents rather than just mothers or just fathers. As we approach a more equal world in which gender stereotyping is increasingly irrelevant, TantrumXYZ provides a site where parents can be parents, just like in the real world. The tone we have set among our community is one of a group of friends, male and female, who have had children at roughly the same time, and who are there for each other, through the silly and the serious.

Do you feel like you’ve built a sense of community with your customers and what the all important ingredient for you?

Absolutely. We have a closed Facebook group which acts both as a reader panel (‘what do you think about this artwork?’), a source for stories, and an advice forum where parents can ask for tips or opinions on anything from doubts about childcare to the best baby bath. We also hold events such as bring-the-baby stand-up comedy, a monthly business networking roundtable, and a post-natal sex discussion at pop-up shop in Shoreditch. All of our events have been broadcast on Facebook Live so we’re not limiting them to London guests, and we’re planning on hitting the road shortly…

What would your number one tip be to entrepreneurs embarking on setting up a business?

Time is money, and if you don’t have much money to start off, get good with your time. Learn some time-saving hacks for both your digital and real-world tasks, and don’t be afraid of saying no.

Lisa Williams

Do you think it takes a certain type of person to be an entrepreneur or can the skills be acquired over time?

I am certainly not a cookie-cutter entrepreneur, and there is definitely space for different personalities in business. However, the basics are important to get right: time-management, people-management, a good decision-making process and a head for figures. You can acquire these skills if you care enough to learn how.

What inspires you to get involved in SUK?

I think it does brilliant work, bringing together entrepreneurial minds from all levels of business: from the been-there-sold-my-business to the people who are just starting out and who may have less experience but who have all the ideas, enthusiasm and intelligence.

What do you think is special about SUK?
The place itself has a really good vibe: it’s full of friendly people who are keen to help and to join the dots between other people. It does a fantastic job of sourcing bright minds, and of supporting them on their journey.
Do you learn as a mentor also?
Yes, absolutely: I learn from everyone in the room, and love keeping in contact with people too.

MENTEE STARTUP OF THE MONTH

Chop, Chat and Chill with Chuku‘s

Since launching the world’s first Nigerian tapas restaurant Chuku‘s have introduced 1,000s to their unique ‘chop, chat, chill’ dinning experience. With ‘chop’ being Nigerian slang for eat, Chuku‘s has been described as “reflecting the direction African food is going” and been recommended by Time Out as the best of Nigerian London!
Founded by a brother-sister duo, Emeka and Ifeyinwa Frederick, Chuku‘s were recently announced as the winners of Virgin Media Pioneers’ Global Entrepreneurship Week competition and, following this win, were invited to be interviewed on London Live. Ifeyinwa is also proudly featured in Elle magazine’s star list of female entrepreneurs under 30.
Having been visited by big names such as Christine Ohuruogu, the 400m Olympic and world champion, and Diane Abbott MP, the Shadow Home Secretary, who highlighted their tapas as the “best Nigerian food [she’d] had in any restaurant”, Chuku‘s have just announced their third and longest residency in East London’s trendy Shoreditch. The ultimate goal though is to set up their Nigerian tapas restaurant in their first permanent site this year.
We hear from the Chuku‘s sibling team about their journey and recipe for success with chop, chatting and chilling so far! 

When did you found the business, what was your inspiration behind launching Chuku’s London and why was the timing right?

Chuku’s is the world’s first Nigerian tapas restaurant. From a young age, we’d been discussing the idea of popularising Nigerian food in the UK. We knew that just opening another Nigerian restaurant wasn’t the solution though. We wanted to do something different. Something which could be accessible to all cultures and makes everyone feel at home. It wasn’t until 2015 that we struck upon the right idea –authentic Nigerian flavours in small, shareable plates. This is Nigerian tapas.

With the ethnic restaurant market growing rapidly and now set to be worth £6.8billion by 2021, it felt like the right time. And with Africa a hot topic in business and music, we wanted to lead this same trend in food. Most importantly though, in the summer of 2015, we were finally both back home together in London for the first time in a decade. So we seized the opportunity to get going.

Whats your USP and how do you stand out from the crowd? 

We differ from other West African restaurants because of our truly unique culinary fusion – we are the only restaurant in the world offering Nigerian tapas. We also have a memorable slogan – chop, chat, chill which describes what we are about.

Chop – This is Nigerian slang for ‘eat’ and shows Nigerian food [Link to blog post will be live by end of today] is at the heart of what we do. All our tapas dishes are centred on authentic Nigerian flavours. However, our menu is a combination of both traditional and innovative recipes with a special Chuku’s twist. For example, we are the first restaurant to offer jollof quinoa, putting a healthy spin on the popular Nigerian dish jollof rice.

Chat – Food is at the heart of every Nigerian social gathering, so with our tapas plates made for socialising we celebrate this cultural tradition, whilst tapping into the growing trend towards smaller, sharing plates.

Chill – This is for our Nigerian chill-out beats and Nigerian-inspired décor, as we go beyond the food to offer a cultural introduction to Nigeria, taking our guests to Lagos without having to even leave London.

Who is your inspiration? Business role model? 

Our parents are our biggest inspiration and biggest supporters of what we do. Our Mum has always wanted us to be best friends as well as siblings and she wanted us to start our own businesses too, so she’s got exactly what she wanted! Our Dad runs his own small business, so we’ve grown up seeing how hard he has to work on it but how passionate about what he does. Their words of wisdom shared throughout the years are continually ringing our ears.

We also love the brother-sister duo behind Coffee Republic – Bobby and Sahar Hashemi. We’ve read their book, “Anyone Can Do It”, cover-to-cover multiple times. And it’s our first port of call whenever we have any business challenges. We’ve learnt so much about entrepreneurship from this one book. We’re hoping we get the opportunity to share our brother-sister experience with them one day.

What advice would you give other young entrepreneurs embarking on a startup? 

1. Read “Anyone Can Do It”

2. Feed the passion. Do whatever you can to get your product out there in the simplest way. Once it’s in the hands of real people it becomes real and the passion inside will grow exponentially

3. Dream big!

You mention that SUK helped you map out your long term goals – are you able to expand a bit on what this is and any specifics that SUK has helped you put in place? Also did you get any valuable connections via the SUK? 

Our mentoring session with SUK was hugely valuable in helping us map out the steps to our long-term goals and ensuring that, whilst we still dream big, we focus on climbing the ladder one rung at a time and not looking too far up. Having a high-level roadmap then allowed us to structure our business plans and add the detail for the most immediate goals.

One of the mentors also put us in touch with a seasoned restaurateur who has built a successful restaurant brand sharing the cuisine of his own heritage as we plan to do. When we presented our idea to him, he loved it. His enthusiasm, especially given his knowledge of the industry, just gave us that added confidence that we are on the right track. Having experience like that in your network is simply invaluable, especially for individuals like us who were coming from outside the restaurant industry.

Want to chop, chat, chill with our mentees? Pop into their Nigerian tapas restaurant on Thursday and Fridays evenings at The Canvas Cafe, 42 Hanbury Street, Shoreditch E1 5JL

Interview with star of the month: Lawrence Brand

10_porterlight
What fantastic news we heard recently on January 16, one of our SUK mentees Lawrence Brand has been named in the second annual Forbes 30 under 30 Europe list! Lawrence Brand of Porterlight Bicycles was named in in the Industry category list, a list that features 300 young innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders across Europe who are under 30 years of age and who are transforming business, technology, finance, media, culture and more, as judged by some of the most accomplished and acclaimed individuals in each category. The criteria for honorees making the list included leadership and disruption in their field; entrepreneurial mindset and results; and the likelihood of changing their field over the next half-century.

Porterlight Bicycles is a London based manufacturer of cargo bikes. Capable of carrying heavier and bulkier loads than normal bicycles, Porterlight’s flagship Bringley model makes a greater range of zero-emission urban journeys possible for companies and individuals. The increased cargo capacity allows bicycles to be used where the alternative has traditionally been a van or car, and the bikes’ traffic beating power accelerates urban delivery logistics. Porterlight now manufactures cargo bikes for the likes of Deliveroo, and exports worldwide.

Brand hand-built his first prototype cargo bike in 2014, and proved its carrying capability on a three-month unsupported test ride to Kazakhstan covering 5,000km through eight countries, the prototype bike was later exhibited in London’s Design Museum. SUK caught up with Lawrence to hear more and how SUK helped him in his brilliant journey! 

Can you describe your business journey in a short summary?

In 2014 I designed, and hand-built my first prototype cargo bicycle in the corner of my living room. I quit my day job, and set off on a 3 month test ride that would take me 5,000km, through eight countries, and end up on China’s Western border in Kazakhstan. Arriving back in London, it then took another year to refine, and improve the design, before beginning to trade in late 2015. Since then we’ve been exporting bikes to seven countries, became cargo bike supplier to Deliveroo, have been exhibited in two national museums, and moved to a new modern production facility in North London.

Where stage was your business at when you came to the SUK? What did you need advice around?

I came to Startup Kitchen in early 2016 having sold only a couple of bikes, but with a laundry list of ideas, product tangents, and targets. Sitting down with experienced entrepreneurs and talking through priorities, realistic goals, and potential pitfalls was hugely helpful in clarifying what I should concentrate on in the short, and longer term.

lawrence-brand-founder-and-ceo-of-porterlight-bicycles-ltd
 
How did it help you move forward with your business? 

Having a better vision for what to spend my time working on, definitely has helped advance the company further. That more concentrated effort has led to us really pushing ahead in our chosen areas, and had led us to exceed all of our year one targets. 
 
What other benefits did you get from being involved with the SUK and how did it help your business?

Not only was it great to talk in-depth with the mentors at the Startup Kitchen, chatting with and getting to know the other mentees was also really interesting and beneficial. Hearing from your peers who are facing similar business problems, and opportunities is a very motivating and informative experience. From my first mentoring session at the Startup Kitchen I was lucky enough to make personal connections with other entrepreneurs that have continue to this day.

Young Progress Makers Day fuels future Change Makers

The Evening Standard’s first ever Young Progress Makers day hosted at the RoundHouse in Chalk Farm on Wednesday 25th January was certainly a day to remember – it was the ultimate show case of how entrepreneurship and young talent can and will thrive in London, the ‘concrete jungle where dreams are made of.’

The day bought together a unique gathering of designers, entrepreneurs, tech innovators and politicians and included workshops, panel discussions and mentoring sessions, all seeking solutions to the challenges facing 18-to-25-year-olds in London. It was a fantastic opportunity to hear the insights of influencers and experts ranging from Sadiq Khan to  comedian and actor Humza Arshad, Lily Cole, Baroness Shields and a range of other impressive entrepreneurs and change makers. It was a day to stimulate thought, conversations and future action around some of the most pressing issues of the day such as what will artificial intelligence mean to us in the future and how can we make sure technology is a force for good. The Startup Kitchen were privileged to attend the event with a number of our young entrepreneur startups who have been gaining mentoring from the SUK flagship mentoring sessions. Amongst the attendees there were representatives from Box of Prints, Secure on Site Security, Les Deux Amies and Crowdfooding.

There is no doubt that every single person in the room, young founders, social change makers or otherwise walked away with something really powerful to help fuel their visions and career journeys. “Incredible, inspiring and insightful” were all words that several of the young business owners remarked after the event and the energy in the room was palpable. The breadth and diversity of speakers meant there was a real mix of thought leadership and role models from different walks of life illustrating that opportunity is all around and there for the taking. One mentee quoted;

“It provided a practical resource of information from active thought leaders and entrepreneurs who varied in age and experience, also the ability to interact with them made it priceless. It’s really important for events like ESYPM to exist because it teaches young Londoners that anything possible. You can be a black boy from Peckham and be in a Star Wars movie or be the son of a Bus Driver and be the Mayor of London; the world truly is our oyster.I don’t think anyone left the ESYPM event not feeling inspired, from the Speakers to the panellist the day was absolutely incredible.”

Top take aways include the Q&A sessions with young change makers due to their ‘honesty and authenticity’ and there were different favourite speakers “I really enjoyed Jusnah Gadi, Founder of Young Music Boss story of perseverance when it comes to launching your own business,” and another mentee quoted their favourite speakers as young entrepreneurs Alex Klein, Bejay Mulenga, and Beanie Major.

Other empowering themes from the day included the value of perseverance and consistency above all else, story-telling being fundamental to build a solid business behind an idea, gaining credibility early on and the power of being your own boss. One mentee also remarked how motivational he found the words of Lloyd Dorfman talking about how ‘young entrepreneurs anywhere can start businesses from their bedroom’ and Fabien Riggall talking about ‘the power of social networks, taking risks and not needing to tell people whats going to happen.’

Overall there was a real invigoration that London is the best place in the world to seize the day with opportunities with powerful words from Sadiq Khan “you have to risk the fall to know what it means to fly.”

Said Zara Afflick of Box of Prints “I was inspired and truly encouraged by those who shared their story on the lead-up to success in their business and how to make a change in London and it was lovely to be introduced to other business minded individuals.”

More information on the event can be found through the below link:

http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/london-life/londons-young-progress-makers-day-2017-meet-the-talents-shaping-the-capitals-future-a3407436.html

 

 

 

 

Exploring Innovate UK’s view on innovation and technology for start-ups and SME

By investing over £1.5 billion in innovation since 2007, Innovative UK main goal is to develop new services and products to grow UK’s economy. It is crucial that young entrepreneurs understand the importance role of technology plays in shaping society and re-inventing a new strategic economy.

Here is a video made by Innovative UK explaining the Digital Economy strategy between 2015-2018.

 

 

The Proptar Voice! Amos Eretusi talks to us about how Proptar is a platform for young voices to be heard…and why you can always choose your own pathway…

It was brilliant to meet Amos Eretusi the Founder of Proptar when he attended our May SUK session earlier this year at Pop Brixton. I was really interested to learn more about Proptar’s vision and the tangible work they are do to help solve two important problems (or  provide two important opportunities!),  exposing young people to positive role models and learning opportunities in the creative sectors and providing tangible opportunities for young talent to advance their careers. Through hosting and running events, workshop and masterclasses they provide the chance for young people to gain access to the individuals, knowledge and inspiration they they need to get on the right learning path or gain vital transferrable skills in the creative industries and beyond. As talent management agents too they also get spot and nurture talent, through their relevant network in music and entertainment – there may even be a record deal to be made! Proptar.uk proptar.wordpress.com

Find out more about Amos’ own journey and why its important to be part of the solution…..

Can you summarise your career journey to date? Tell us about Proptar!

 As a social enterprise and talent management company – which from my experience, isn’t common – Proptar provides a platform for creatives to showcase their talent to a wider audience. The social enterprise focuses on bringing the creative industry into the school environment by giving students an insight on the creative industry – Music to be exact – whilst also running social impact events that bring exclusive professionals to the community to share their experience and offer work opportunities. Under talent management, we focus on working with talented creatives, developing and harnessing their skills and traits, so they can make a career out of their talents. Currently we focus on talents within the music industry – which has seen us do UK tours with award winning international artists and 
My journey with Proptar has been difficult but also memorable so far through the experiences I’ve had. 
Everything we’ve done from working with talented artists and big brands, to delivering masterclasses in organisations and schools has been self-taught. It hasn’t been a case that we haven’t seeked support, as my team and I have; but sometimes “when life gives you lemons, you have to make lemonade”. Also, with youth unemployment rising, the notion of being your own boss hasn’t resonated well within my community, so accomplishing that alone has been tough – which is an issue Proptar tries to tackle. Being willing to make mistakes in order to learn and grow, as a business and as an individual, has been crucial in my ‘rollercoaster’ journey as an entrepreneur. On the other hand, working collectively with people who have a great mindset and the same vision as myself, has made my journey an amazing experience.
What advice has and support has been vital along the way?
SUK has been amazing in their support of Proptar, with help in regards to financial forecasting and understanding the key selling points of our business. They’ve provided some great networks and surrounded us with like minded individual on similar pathways to us, which makes it easier to relate. Coming from my community, having such support is scarce and to receive that from SUK is an amazing advantage.
Have you had to overcome any adversity or major challenges in your life and what has it taught you? Has it helped with becoming an entrepreneur?
The estate I grew up on was surrounded by gang-related violence and I lost friends because of it. At times it would seem as if some goals weren’t accessible or achievable because of where I came from. Even within my current team at Proptar, people have suffered from that same detrimental lifestyle; however, we tend not to make it our main focus. The saying that ‘you’re shaped by your community’ is somewhat true in term of your perspective but the thought that always resonated with me was that; “You can always choose your own pathway”, hence, the reason why I’m driven, hard working and eager to succeed. More so, the lack of relatable role models I had growing up gave me something to strive for. Many have left their community, become a success and not looked back, to provide a platform for young people looking to follow in their footsteps, I want to be that difference.
Proptar is looking to continuously grow and expand the platform whilst being a major influence within the industry. We also aim to enhance our social impact on a wider scale, having an influence both nationally and eventually, internationally, is one of our main goals as a company; through more creative events, partnerships with major corporate brands, whilst nurturing more talent and creatives from various backgrounds.

From a garden shed to +800 stores – How PACK’D became the first frozen Smoothie Kit brand to market!

By Fay Cannings

“We are on a mission to make nutrition easy and make frozen cool” says Co-Founder Luke Johnstone one half of the PACK’D partnership with Alex Stewart, behind PACK’D smoothies. Luke, having attended two Startup Kitchen sessions this year and wowed the mentors with the PACK’D product talks to us about how he went from product development in his shed to a national brand in supermarkets – pioneering the world’s first frozen Smoothie Kits to provide a targeted health hit! http://www.packd.co.uk

So PACK’D Frozen Smoothie Kits were always going to take off – kits of perfectly portioned whole ingredients and superfoods, designed with nutritionists and ready to blend for a targeted health hit – Energy, Defence, Detox, what’s not to love? The re-usable packs contain two pouches of fruit/veg plus two superfood sachets – one per portion. It’s all simple – blend with your chosen liquid for the ultimate smoothie in under a minute. PACK’D sell to supermarket and food services and now in all major supermarkets across the UK including Sainsbury’s, Tesco Express, Wholefoods, Planet Organic and all Costco’s.

So PACK’D are definitely going places and we were proud to hear that The Startup Kitchen has been part of their acceleration over the last 12 months! Say Luke

“The Prince’s Trust and Virgin StartUp gave me the belief and skills needed to launch my business and StartUp Kitchen has felt like a graduation into the world of entrepreneurs. Every event, meeting and discussion has provided invaluable real world insight, developing skills and creating opportunities that bring PACK’D a step closer to creating a positive, lasting impact on the world.”

So how did Luke Johnstone and his business partner Alex Stewart get to become such a pioneering brand and achieve success in such a short space of time and indeed what was his inspiration? Luke explained to me that growing up he’d always been sports mad, with a scholarship at Sutton Tennis Academy and playing football in the FA Cup, nutrition was a key part of his life. Unfortunately, a severe injury ended his progress but his passion for nutrition remained. After graduating from university Luke did a stint at the BBC developing new ideas for wildlife and sports programmes (including Planet Earth 2) but it became clear quite quickly that he had to scratch the entrepreneurial itch.

“The more I worked, the more I gained relevant experience and the bigger my drive to launch a business became. With PACK’D, this became overwhelming and I knew it was time to go for it.”

Having always been fit and healthy the inspiration and passion was there but creating the ultimate product would take time. Especially without any funds or experience in FMCG! With no better way than to experiment Luke moved back to his family home and took up residence in the shed, living, researching. developing and launching his product for the next 2 years. This gives whole new meaning to living and breathing your business. Realising the gap in the market for high quality, natural and quick nutrition from scratch, the product development process began. The aim being to create frozen Smoothie Kits that put real, targeted nutrition at your fingertips.

“We wanted to create an antidote to bottled drinks and a shortcut to the ultimate homemade smoothie. This meant solving all of the issues with the existing options, innovating as much as possible and chasing perfection. It took nine months developing flavours, collaborating with nutritionists, scientific testing and pushing the industry status quo to pioneer new standards and create the perfect PACK’D Smoothie Kits.”

While coming up with the recipes it was crucial to also get out there and start testing the products so Luke and Alex worked 7 days a week, testing the products at markets on Saturday/Sunday, and developing the business during the week. The range was a big hit and started drawing regular customers to the trendy Chatsworth Road and Broadway Markets. Having the presence in these parts of Hackney also meant they were getting noticed and networking with their target audiences and retailers — health conscious young people looking for interesting new health products

“We will always be grateful to Chatsworth Road for giving us a 3-week rent free trial that was the springboard for our business and to Broadway Market for helping us to get direct feedback from hundreds of customers every single week”

With backing from The Prince’s Trust and Virgin StartUp they began to grow at speed and in April 2015 they secured investment from experienced entrepreneurs, including David Krantz (Racing Green, Planet Organic, Space NK) and Peter Lassman (Chrysalls PLC). Their first big break was when EAT 17 Spa (the shop opposite their market stall on Chatworth Road) took a chance to stock their Smoothie Kits. Six months later they were available in +600 stores, including Sainsbury’s, Tesco Express, Whole Foods and Planet Organic. They continue to go from strength to strength with big listings including Costco, AMT Coffee and many others on the horizon. Luke and Alex have now sold over 300,000 Smoothie Kits, in over +800 stores and the range was recently voted ‘Best New Health & Wellness Product 2016.’

There is a growing tide of competition as big business and supermarkets realize the opportunity that PACK’D have created but Luke and Alex have big plans for the future and exciting innovation just around the corner.

“We are on a mission to make nutrition easy and make frozen cool. We’ve partnered with elite nutritionist Matt Lovell and have big plans to break down barriers to healthy eating. Ultimately we want to fuel potential at every turn, by giving people the tools they need to reach their personal best.” 

As a Prince’s Trust Young Ambassador Luke is determined to make PACK’D a huge success and to help other young people to follow their dreams. Watch this space for more PACK’D adventures!

“Find out what you’re good at and stick to it, even when there’s nothing left”…Samson Daramola, talks to us about how he set up Stay Focus Management and the trick to creating sell out major events.

We caught up with Samson Daramola of Stay Focus Management to hear all all about how he went from a start up music events company to sell out venue events and on to launching his own talent management company, and he’s still only 24!

Samson started out in 2011 with his first venture PSEVENTSZ as an events company catering to young individuals from the ages of 18-32 with a focus on Urban Music. Having done 5 major events which sold out major venues with over 5000 capacity the focus was then to grow a secondary business focused on new artist management. Seeing the potential to diversify through organising sell out events galvanising all the right people in industry to come together to create not just a brilliant event but also hub of activity of connections and networks Samson decided to create  STAY FOCUS MANAGEMENT to help upcoming artists get the exposure and support they need to gain the right industry contacts and support. Stay Focus management helps up and coming artists with everything from studio sessions, music videos, interviews, to eventually landing them with a record label working with some of the biggest label in industry such as Sony and Universal. The aim is to “to make the artist feel as comfortable as possible by always encouraging them to make music, supplying them with song writers if they are struggling and constantly giving them the advice they need to flourish.”  @PSEVENTSZ

Find links to some of the artists Stay Focus Management has helped get record labels are below;

 

What was your inspiration for setting up for the business and how long did it take? 

Music has always been a big part of my life, growing up I was learnt to play the drums, piano and guitar… this fostered my on going interest in emerging artists on the Urban music scene and wanting to curate experiences for others to enjoy. My older sister Maria Daramola  introduced me to the event life which opened up a whole new insight into the industry – I just thought, if others can do it why not take the plunge and do it myself! I had studied Business Management at Middlesex University so from a theoretical point of view I felt pretty equipped, it became a case of then learning through the process like many entrepreneurs. It took me 2 years to officially set up my business as there were a variety of legal requirements to get in place from obtaining licenses and permits to applying for trademark protection…having a business that is centred around my passion was definitely the central driver in getting through this long process!

What do you think are the secrets to success for being a successful entrepreneur and who is your inspiration? 

One of the main keys to being a successful entrepreneur is to discover what you’re actually good at and stick to it even when there is nothing left because most entrepreneurs tend to go bankrupt during their careers but only the most successful business owners break through their barriers and rise from that situation. Two successful entrepreneurs who inspire me are Richard Branson and Simon Cowell as they both either went broke or almost became bankrupt at some point in their life and both of these men found solutions to their situation which has now made them two of the richest men in the world.

So why the Startup Kitchen and how did it help? 

I first heard about the SUK in 2014 through a charity in Hackney Skyway who thought it would be a good time to hear advice from entrepreneurs and get tips from on how I can evolve my business and I’ve been back every year since. For me it was about gaining some specific advice around my strategy with venues but also about my plans to grow the business more broadly. The Startup kitchen was crucial for me at this point as it helped me focus on my main goal at this time and be relentless about achieving it before I move on to another one…where I had been weighing up some decisions it helped give me clarity and not divert my attentions in the wrong direction, ultimately it de-risked my business at that point. Whenever I attend a session I feel confident from the advice in taking the right route forward and its great that you can return back at the right time for you year on year.

What have been your challenges setting up your business and how have you overcome them? 

My most challenging moment in my career was when I first started my business, it was very tricky as I didn’t have the funds I needed in the early days meaning I had to take a risk with my early events. The success of my first event however gave me the fuel I needed to push forward and gave me formula by which to work by – 3000 people attended my event and I made a made a big return on my investment. It gave me the confidence to move forward. There have definitely been times especially in the early days where I’ve thought can I pull this off but realised the trick is ensuring the right planning, scheduling and having the right team of people to pull in at the events…when it all comes together and I can see the events not just packed but know everyone is getting great value for money that fuels me to keep on going to the next bigger event!