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5 ingredients for success from Ella’s Kitchen founder Paul Lindley

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The launch of the Virgin Startup Foodpreneur Festival was revealed in September, with Richard Branson fronting a search for the UK’s culinary champions with the potential of expanding their products and ventures further.

Interested parties were able to enter Street Food and Retail categories, with the prizes pitched as the following.

Street Food

One winner will secure a pop-up, rent-free, for one week – Monday-Sunday – at Old Street Underground Station via Appear Here, and one winner will receive a rent-free stall for three months – Saturdays only – at Urban Food Fest in Shoreditch.

Retail

Five winners will have the chance to meet buyers at Target in the US, as the retailer looks to trial new products in American stores. Distribution during the trial would be across 300 venues, with successful goods to be extended across all 2,000 of the firm’s stores after six months.

Why Richard Branson wants to sink his teeth into the UK’s food and drink sector

The results were finally revealed in October during the grand final at the Vinyl Factory in London’s Soho, during which Real Business was present and announced the winners on Twitter.

The day itself comprised a selection of workshops, demonstrations and the chance to mingle with the finalists, while judge Paul Lindley, the founder of organic baby food business Ella’s Kitchen, offered a few words of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Referencing French philosopher Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, he said: “Tell me what you eat, I’ll tell you who we are.” The point he was making is that “food is such a massive part of the nation [that it is] at the centre of who we are”, noting that it accounts for 16 per cent of the manufacturing industry.

Lindley highlighted that the food industry is a solid part of the economy, but also recognised “we’re [foodpreneurs] creative, with ideas on supermarket shelves, in restaurants and pop-ups. Food is something everyone in the UK has an opinion on and that’s an opportunity to get through to everyone”.

He would know. After all, Ella’s Kitchen now achieves sales of more than $100m across 40 countries and Lindley noted that export was a key driver of the firm’s success.

Above all else, however, he had five key tips for the budding food entrepreneur – and some general business advice – to embrace. Read them on the next page.

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