Victoria Albrecht’s impeccably planned first Food Start-up School event took place in Shoreditch Village Hall on Monday night. Over 160 entrepreneurs, foodies, techies and investors filled the hall and indulged themselves with delicious treats and wine, whilst listening to Jimmy Cregan, CEO of omnipresent and uber tasty Jimmy’s Iced Coffee open the main event with a keynote speech.
This was after an early afternoon workshop with manufacturing expert David Franks about how to scale up your food business and evaluate your product with a purchasers mind, as well as a session run by Karen Jones, social media strategist, and Co-Founder of EatMyWorld on picking the right strategy and executing it to the best of your ability.
After Jimmy’s inspiring talk on “Why Brands Need a Story”, we heard from Maximilian Seeburg, the Manager at EatFirst, a startup that was recently launched under the infamous Rocket Internet; Maximilian provided some top quality insights into disrupting the London delivery market in just 8 weeks.
The networking pitches were awesome too, which was a good thing because so were the prizes! 3 months of co-working space at Launch 22, the incubator in Shoreditch, won by SnicketsHQ, the healthy snack made from crickets. The judge from Launch 22 “loved the pitch”, and “the fantastic public speaking with an interesting idea.” It’s open season on crickets in East London, people!
Another great prize on offer was entry into the second round of company DIGEATALL’s first ever FoodTech accelerator which will take place in San Sebastian, Spain. This amazing opportunity was scooped up by Cookbooth, who provide photo recipes for foodies made by top chefs.
Abdur from Genuine Juices scooped a 2 hour session with David Franks the manufacturing guru himself; the judges thought the market was hot for pressed juices and liked the funky packaging. Real Chocolate Beverages won trading space at Startisans in Covent Market to sell their delightful hot chocolate and Chris from Uncover, “a beautiful app with proven traction”, won 3 months of free classes with Monkfeet, no small feat if you’ll pardon the pun.
Then more food arrived, the main course, courtesy of Pronto, who run a delivery business supplying customers with lasagne, super food salads and other wholesome foods. Yummy, and healthy. There’s no minimum delivery charge and a nice, simple, yet effective, menu.
Following Jimmy’s engaging drinks startup insights was a fascinating talk by Tessa Stuart, MD at Packed Branding, about the difference packaging can make and her experiences jumping out at customers from behind iced food counters and aisle 13, all in the name of research! Good insight from a professional at the top of their game.
Next up was Paddy Willis, CEO at Bathtub2Boardroom. Paddy has pretty much done it all in the start-up world; he runs an incubator, The Grocery Accelerator, several businesses and he knows his food too. He spoke about the being on both sides of the funding gap, the view from each giving us some compelling takeaways.
Last up was DIGEATALL to tell us more about their Food Tech course in San Sebastián. More Michelin starts per capita than in anywhere else in the world. What a place to run a successful start-up!
I really enjoyed this event because it was a warm and inviting evening with some properly thoughtful companies taking part, some top advice, and, yes, lots to eat. But it was a lot more than that.
Victoria did a great job of bringing together so many talented and influential people, getting sponsors to commit, and filling the Village Hall. She deserves a lot of credit for that, and with backing from the likes of Match Capital, Bizzabo and Monkfeet to name a few, the event will surely become a regular fixture.
The Food Tech scene is on the rise, anyone who has worked near Shoreditch or in the City knows that, there are so many different options for lunch in this old and romantic district, there is no excuse not to have food on the brain for a large part of the day. Disruptive technology may well change the approach of many independent firms who likely would feel stronger together and have the opportunity to pitch to a larger audience. Marketing, delivery, sourcing ingredients, and cooking itself will always be in a state of flux with new flavours and methods of preparation being brought to the table each day.
Victoria has been vocal about the change that’s needs to happen to the Food Tech scene on the Haggerston Times Podcast and has taken a big step to creating a more interactive community with a place to test products and get their peer’s views. I left with my jacket stuffed with curry paste samples, and flavoured teas amongst other things. Victoria has run similar events at St Andrews University and is bringing her expertise to London for the first time and taking it by storm, having also launched a side project, Crybb, an app that helps you discover the right flatmates through your social networks.
Shoreditch Village Hall is a great little venue and on Monday it was home to some pretty passionate people; other pitchers I liked were twin sisters from Holland who had invented a special mixer for premium spirit brands, (why have expensive vodka and lemonade, why not take it up a notch, experiment?), and a genuinely independent fish monger with a seasonal fish delivery subscription model, SoleShare, who won a half day of consulting with restaurant start-up champion Abid Bamieh.
The truth is though, everyone who came to Food StartUp School was a winner, it was one of those “had to be there” events because lots of pics of delicious food, talented people, and intoxicating food chat can only begin to replicate the great atmosphere and buzzy air of excitement Food Startup School was generating. But, until next time, they will have to do. In that spirit, go get your tickets for the next one, and start thinking about that oyster delivery / fine wine / farmers market fusion app you had always dreamt about, again. The Food StartUp School will make it all seem better!