Innovation and enterprise blog

24 February 2021

Start-up Stars: Taste of Success

Last week at our Start-up Stars: Taste of Success event we heard from Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups businesses, Chilli Tuk Tuk, The Good Slice, Ming Foods and Enrica Rocca on how they entered into the busy and thriving world of food and drinks businesses. What were the key takeaways from the event?

  • Don’t be a perfectionist, learn from your mistakes and keep going when you are challenged
  • Have the right people alongside you
  • Have a passion for your product

Start-up Stars event Zoom screenshot

On top of these, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite insights and lessons shared by our panel during the evening:

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Calum and Ed, co-founders of The Good Slice, spoke about their business with purpose saying “it gives us a reason to get up in the morning”. When they were getting started they were balancing lots of different roles, including working in their day jobs. They realised that it’s key to ‘not try to bite too much off too quickly’ when growing, and keep it manageable. As Sam said ‘ignore the voice in your head telling you everything has to be perfect, it’s helpful to acknowledge that it’s ok to make mistakes as long as you learn.’

Charlotte, who took over her mother’s cookery school business, Enrica Rocca, along with her sister spoke about optimising marketing opportunities by getting their clients to rate them on TripAdvisor and working to get free press coverage where possible. She mentioned something pertinent she learnt from taking part in Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups which was ‘you can’t do it all, and you can’t do it all well’. She explained that realising this forced her to prioritise her time better, for example, by starting to use a bookkeeper to outsource certain tasks.

Sam Duong

Sam, founder of Ming Foods, has seen huge success in his business, selling over a billion pancakes and growing from a team of 6 to 18. Yet, he still says that some of the challenges his business has faced means it’s ‘like riding on the back of a tiger, it’s a very hungry tiger and at any moment it just wants to turn around and gobble you up, so you get very good at riding tigers.’ He says the key to his success has been resilience and training up his staff to a high standard. His top three tips for start-up food businesses:1) look at margins, 2) be all over health and safety and legal requirements, and 3) love the product -  “If you don’t really love the product then you can’t speak about it passionately”.

Amisha, who is the co-founder of award-winning Indian takeaway Chilli Tuk Tuk discussed the complexities of starting up: ‘being a start-up is so incredibly tough but entrepreneurs shouldn’t get lost in perfectionism.’ Instead Amisha discussed the importance of resilience above all else, as well as motivation and determination – ‘it helps to surround yourself with motivating people’. She also elaborated on running a business with family commitments explaining that “you have to say no to things”.

Our panel also all mentioned the benefit to them of taking part in Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups. For any businesses ready to grow and move to the next stage, applications for the next round are still open until 3 March. Head to bl.uk/grow for more.

Our Start-up Stars events are for members of our Start-ups in London Libraries and Innovating for Growth communities. To find out more about these, visit bl.uk/SiLL and bl.uk/grow.