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.
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.
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.
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.
Chop, Chat and Chill with Chuku‘s
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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
Can you summarise your career journey to date? Tell us about Proptar!
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!