Innovation and enterprise blog

01 December 2020

A week in the life of… Stéphanie Tumba founder of Sté Tumba Capital and Managing Director of Human Connections London

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Stephanie is the managing director of Human Connections London, an introduction and matchmaking agency based in London and founder of Sté Tumba Capital, a business angel vehicle investing in creative ideas, bonds and stocks, commodities, and most importantly start-ups with innovative ideas. Stephanie became part of the BIPC family after taking part in our Innovating for Growth programme.

Stephanie getting into a yellow cab

My diary takes place during the week when the second lockdown was announced, also the week before the highly anticipated American elections and 60 days before Christmas.

We reached out to the Business & IP Centre for Human Connections London as we felt stuck. We felt like we had achieved enviable and reasonable growth, yet we hit a glass ceiling. We needed external eyes and opinions, not only to be bigger and better than our competitors, but more so to implement a consistent system for getting a strategy implemented that truly scales. Whilst I was really impressed by my colleagues and our mentors during the Innovating for Growth programme, I found the few sessions of the Business & IP Centre's Growth Club mentoring programme with Alan Wick even more valuable during such trying times. It has currently proven to be an source of inspiration to sustain during the pandemic and well beyond.

Monday You never know what your day will bring when you own and manage a portfolio of several investments and properties and work on a couple of projects around the world. Especially during a global pandemic! Yet, my Mondays tend to be more or less the same unless there is an emergency.

I do not do any work on Monday; in fact I mostly dedicate this day to charity endeavours. However, I still wake up around 5am with the following morning routine that ends around 8am. I call this period of the day Golden Hours as they tend to set the energies and vibes of the day:

  • Wash my face and drink a glass of water
  • Say my gratitude out loud
  • Prayers
  • Meditation
  • Visualisation
  • Exercise (Pilates 30 to 45 minutes)
  • Reading
  • Plan my priorities for the day with a coffee and a croissant
  • Shower

And now I am ready to start my day around 8am!

8.00 Working from home, I switch my laptop on. The first thing I do is read thoroughly all the reports that I have received from my teams, partners and service providers the Friday before. These reports usually help me to plan the rest of the week and sometimes do tweak my priorities on Monday.

10.00 I check my phone for the first time. I also respond to my emails, for no more than an hour, so I need to prioritise who I respond to.

11.00 I catch up with my assistant, this tends to take at least two hours, to plan the week ahead and determine where she can help me out both in my personal and business life.

Lunch time I am a Rotarian, as such we meet every Monday at 12.30 for lunch, a talk presented by an inspiring leader or charity representative, and a catch up with my Rotarian friends. Rotary is a non-political and non-religious organisation whose purpose is to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian service and to advance goodwill and peace around the world. It’s my way to give back to a variety of communities from one sole place. We usually meet in Mayfair but we are currently holding Zoom meetings.

14.30 I spend two hours reviewing my assets (personal and business) and decide what to buy, sell, or hold. In fact, I check the markets and my investments’ fluctuations. My investments include stocks, equities, commodities and others on the NYC, London, and Paris. Therefore, I read the numbers, the news, any press release, quarterly or annual report, sales and so much more!

Finally, I end my Monday by coaching and/or mentoring three young professionals, free of charge, in the subject of career, lifestyle, and business.

21.00 I ordered food through Deliveroo. It’s too late to cook and I never miss a meal.

22.00 My Evening Routine:

  • Shower
  • Praying
  • Thanks
  • Visualisation and Affirmations

Stephanie on a bench

Tuesday My Tuesdays are your Mondays. My Golden Hours have been well used and I am on the starting block and full or energy for the day. The only difference is that I take my coffee at the office, not at home.

8.00 This time, I start by reading my emails for the first hour.

9.00 Speed read 2/3 unsolicited pitches for investments.

10.00 Zoom call with my mentor.

11.00 Catch up with the Marketing team.

Noon Catch up with Miia from Human Connections London. We have a meeting to talk about the clients I will be meeting this week and looking after. I am a qualified matchmaker, but only look after Platinum Plus and beyond members (most expensive membership). We also catch up, talking about their backgrounds and their requirements. There’s a very exciting week ahead so I love this part of my job!

13.00 Lunch.

14.00 I will be spending this afternoon interviewing Business Development Managers and Matchmakers for Human Connections. I have three different interviews, each with 30 minutes break in between and a quick read of my emails, prioritising who to respond to.

18.30 Checking my emails for the last time.

19.30 I am off! It’s date night and I am heading to one of my faves, Ivy High Street Kensington. We are leaving the restaurant at 21.30 because of the curfew and I am at home at 21.45.

22.30 My Evening routine (note, I would not have checked my phone in the all evening).

Wednesday Morning routine.

8.00 Check my emails.

9.30 Taxi towards Home Grown for a meeting at 10.00 to meet my assistant. We are working on a couple of creative projects for 2021.

I am currently working on a franchise called #Superwomen and today my assistant and I meeting one of the potential videographers. Th project requires a very specific sets of skills for both the editing and the filming. We are looking for someone able to shoot and edit the show in the a style that I’m envisioning, therefore need someone who can understand and translate my ideas in reality.

The launch is for next year, it was meant to be last summer 2020, but I am very excited as this time allowed my team and I to tweak and fine-tune the project and make it very specific. We would be working with a group of talented and highly skilled artists, entrepreneurs and successful women and we can’t wait to introduce the project to the world. This is another fun and creative part of my role, it’s less factual, more engaging, and most importantly, the show is meant to inspire me and other women from around the world.

After discussing #superwomen project and a few more projects for next year, we eat lunch at Home Grown, have a quick re-viewing of the place where I want to film and leave.

15.00 My assistant and I are heading toward Home House for an additional viewing of one of their venues. I have a clear vision of where I want the show to be filmed and I feel like Home Grown is the ideal place to do so. Yet, I wanted to see an additional venue to be sure that I am not missing out on a better place. Well, I stick to Home Grown, however, this place will be ideal for my birthday.

16.00 Back at the Home Office. I speed read the legal documentation needed for my call with my lawyer, read the news regarding current legislation changes in France, and write down questions for him.

16.30 Call with lawyer in France to discuss a few amendments to our standard rental agreement as per recent changes made in France in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

17.30 End of call. I read my emails until 18.00.

18.30 Home getting ready for my night out.

20.00 Dinner with friends at Bagatelle.

22.30 My Evening Routine

Thursday Morning routine

8.00 Checking my emails. At this point, my ordinary Thursday routine was interrupted, so I’ll relate what happened instead:

I received an emergency call, a worker had had an accident on one of our building sites (Sussex) with a serious injury. I had to meet one of my business partners and the building company that employs him onsite and assess and gauge what happened. I had to be sure that our site had not broken any rules as it is our responsibility to provide a place that is safe and healthy for all of all our builders/contractors. So, needless to say that I was pretty anxious (a very unusual feeling for me as I rarely am!).

9.00 I was on the train discussing with my business partners and lawyers about the questions we need to ask and what needs to be assessed on location. I simultaneously used my personal phone to email Miia, my business partner for Human Connections to cancel my meetings with the clients that I was meant to meet today.

11.00 I arrived on site. I checked the details (report) of the accident, the pictures taken on the scene of the causes, the damages on site, and I call or question the two witnesses of the accident, ask about the working practices, and so on so forth. I was stressed out, I need to relax.

Human Connections logo

13.00 Lunch. I was on a quick call with Human Connections to check my next availability and speak to my assistant to tell her what happened. This was followed by a quick 'fun and relaxing' call to my BF and BFF. I was calmer, relieved, and back to my normal self.

14.00 Back to business (like I really had a non-business lunch) we then call the employee’s lawyer.

15.00 We had a meeting with the the employee’s employer to define whose insurance is going to be used.

16.00 Exhausted, on the train, I postponed my jazz night and dinner with the ladies for 20.00 instead of 1900. I responded to my emails on my mobile.

18.30 I get home. I had a quick shower, a change of clothes and am ready to relax.

20.00 Drinks, dinner, and jazz with my ladies.

22.30 My Evening Routine

What a day! I was exhausted!

Friday Morning routine

8.00 My inbox was cracking, unsurprisingly, and my business phone had billion of voicemail messages. I am really tempted to postpone my appointment at the hairdresser later on today… Let’s see.

I start with checking my voicemail. I had 13 messages. I take notes, phone numbers, and saved most of them. I decide to call two of them back later in the morning and email three of them immediately, the rest will have to wait until next week.

9.00 I decide to deal with most of my emails by themes, projects or start-ups. I start with the Business Development Executive recruitment for Human Connections. I confirm a few interviews that had been conducted for me and review the CVs received. I send my new availability for the following week for the missed phone calls and client meetings the days before.

I have a call with Miia to review our new package called 'Love at first Dial'. We are excited about it and will be organising Zoomtastic dates for our new and former clients.

I read my PR team’s email, with the subject: 'POST ON INSTAGRAM – YOU HAVEN’T DONE ANYTHING FOR DAYS' and decide to post later on Halloween and tomorrow as well. My simple and quick response: 'Will do :)'

The start-ups are all panicking at the shadow of a new lockdown. I have to approve the final pricing, packages, services, products, discounts, offers of six different companies. I start by printing the minutes of our latest meetings, compare them with the final tweaks and approved most of them. DONE!

I can’t believe it’s 14.00! Where did this time go? I call my hairdresser and postpone for Saturday. Not proud. I need to eat and go for a walk.

I am walking in Hyde Park and grab some sushi on my way back home.

15.30 Well, I can’t cancel my dinner with the BF, so I am going to be very selective with what I choose to do for the last couple of hours. Passion (hobbies/friends/family) first, business second! That is my motto… So, quick quick…

Last project to work on that day, #Superwomen. I am still working on my emails! We are negotiating the licensing rights with Sony and Warner Chappell for a song sang by Kygo that we want to use. It’s our first contact with them and we want a quote from each publishers.

16.45 Finally returning the calls from my voicemail. I know it was meant to be this morning!

17.30 I speed read the different reports I have received from everyone including my assistant, the marketing team, WIB Limited, Human Connections and so on…

I am done for today! And I’d better try on my costume for Halloween that I received on Monday and just did not have the time to try. It’d better fit or tomorrow will be an intense shopping day as well.

18.00 I am on the phone with my sister.

18.55 Getting ready for my dinner date.

20.00 Dinner at Koji.

22.15 Night Routine.

Saturday (full moon) I am awake around 8.30 but stay in bed until 10.45, when I receive my Gousto for the week.

11.00 Coffee and croissants in front of my iPad on La Redoute, Maje, and Net-A-Porter to get some dresses and style inspirations for the winter. 2021 will be a better year! Did I mention that I like fashion and have a soft spot for dresses? I rarely go into stores (unless I’m in my home city of Paris and strolling around cute boutiques). Yes, I am a proper millennial, from food to clothes, if I can avoid wasting my time and use it more efficiently for family, friends, and socials. I will. I’d rather go to the theatre to see a play. Well, when they open.

12.00 Morning Routine.

13.00 I grab a quick sandwich on my way to the hairdresser.

14.00 Hairdresser. I spent two hours there to hear all about conspiracy theories about the COVID-19. Very entertaining.

17.00 Walking home and chatting with a friend over the phone.

17.30 Getting ready for my Halloween afternoon tea and dinner with my dearest girlfriends.

18.00 Afternoon tea at Home House. The atmosphere is intense. Boris has just announced a second lockdown starting on Thursday at midnight. We are even more willing to have a great night and enjoy these fun and dearest moments.

22.00 Heading home.

22.30 Call with mom.

23.34 Night routine.

Sunday (at home with the boyfriend) This time, I stayed in bed until 11.00.

Noon Brunch at Delloway Terrace.

14.00 Back at home checking/planning for the week ahead. Checking my emails and diary.

15.30 Enjoying my book, magazines, and other reading.

16.30 Chat with my brothers, my best friends, catching up on our latest adventures.

18.00 Watching a documentary on the American elections.

20.00 I cook my first Gousto meal.

22.00 Night routine and good night!

This was a fairly lazy weekend. In a world without COVID-19, I, or we, would probably be enjoying a matinee at a ballet, theatre, or cinema. Or doing some outdoor activities. But considering the intense week, I wanted to have a quiet weekend.

This was a week in my life. It’s not that much different to a regular week the I would have had pre COVID-19. But, add in the flights delays, cancellations, my trips to the Nordics, the USA and Greenland, the getaways in Europe over weekends, or the night outs in operas, theatres, ballets and gigs and you would have a real idea of what it is to live a week in my life. Happy lockdown!

16 November 2020

Meet our delivery partner: Paul Grant, The Funding Game

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Paul Grant has been running workshops, webinars and masterclasses for more than a decade at the British Library's Business & IP Centre, principally focusing on funding and growing a business.

Paul Grant

About Paul’s funding events

One of the biggest hurdles of early stage companies is fundraising. Entrepreneurs looking for investment often face difficulty when navigating their way through the many funding options available without giving away too much control of their company. Paul has spent many years demystifying the funding game for entrepreneurs so that they can take the right decisions when it comes to launching and growing their businesses.

What’s covered?

Paul delivers online and in-person coaching, events and courses that break down the steps to getting funded into straightforward, practical actions.

As part of the British Library's new Reset. Restart programme, Paul runs a free monthly session on Your Funding Options which helps entrepreneurs discover routes to capital that they may not have heard of before, and decide on the best approaches for their business. Included in the session is advice on the latest government loans and support initiatives, and how to take advantage of angel investment and crowdfunding.

Paul’s half-day anchor workshop, How to Attract the Right Investors, walks entrepreneurs through the whole process of securing equity investment through crowdfunding, angel investors and venture capital.

Attendees leave with a simple, step-by-step plan for funding their business, as well as proven pitching templates and strategies. The workshop includes an interactive session with a top angel investor who shares insider information on the way he makes investments.

Paul also delivers regular online events to give entrepreneurs the best chances of raising the capital they need. His Fast Growth Series covers four key areas:

The series also includes several free question and answer sessions with top angel investors, debt-financing experts and legal professionals.

Paul is a regular presenter on the British Library's Innovating for Growth programme, a free European Regional Development Fund initiative designed to help small businesses that are looking to grow.

Who are these events for?

All Paul’s events are designed to support early-stage entrepreneurs who are struggling to figure out which route to take to fund and grow their business, and who are seeking clarity, direction and a clear set of practical steps towards securing investment.

Paul’s How to Attract the Right Investors workshop is ideal for ambitious entrepreneurs who are either in the start-up phase and are unsure of where or how to raise the capital to launch, or are already trading but need more capital to reach profitability and scale.

The Fast Growth online series is designed for entrepreneurs who are keen to secure equity funding as quickly as possible and includes special events on crowdfunding and agile funding which are increasingly popular ways for business owners to finance their growth.

What can attendees expect?

Attendees can expect pacy and highly interactive sessions packed with valuable content and practical guidance. All events include follow-up information and support, as well as road-tested formulas and templates for attracting investment that have been validated by hundreds of investors. Paul’s aim is for everyone attending his events to leave with clarity and confidence about securing the right investment, so they are free to spend more time on their business.

"Paul is one of those advisors that is talking from experience rather than from a textbook. These events will save most people a fortune." - Managing Director at Arated.com Corp. Ltd. More testimonials.

About Paul Grant

Paul Grant is founder of The Funding Game which offers practical guidance, support, tools, events and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs seeking capital for their startup and scale-up ventures. Paul is an experienced entrepreneur and was founder of a London-based company for seven years which was funded through equity and debt finance. The company offered London-wide catering to the corporate and retail markets. Paul then worked with BA Capital and Capital Partners Private Equity Ltd. where he built a network of over 500 business angels, while coaching entrepreneurs individually and in groups on all aspects of funding and growing their early-stage businesses.

Paul has been featured in The Guardian and in several industry blogs and podcasts, and has run mentoring sessions for the British Library's Business & IP Centre, The Chartered Institute of Marketing, Cass Business School, City University, London South Bank University, the Impact Hub network, Innovation Warehouse, Google Campus, Rainmaking Loft, The Princes Trust, The Business Funding Show, Big Venture Fund and many other incubators, innovation hubs, accelerators and organisational partners in and around London. He also provides pitch training for entrepreneurs delivering successful pitches on BBC’s Dragon’s Den. Paul’s passion is playing a part in helping other entrepreneurs enjoy the game of launching and running their own successful businesses.

Connect with Paul on LinkedIn.

Visit the BIPC's workshops and events page to view all upcoming workshops, webinars and events.

02 November 2020

A week in the life of… Catherine Farrant, founder of Ossa Organic

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Catherine, founder and CEO of Ossa Organic took part in our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme earlier this year, so we wanted to find out more about how she leads her company and what it involves...

Catherine Farrant, founder of Ossa Organic sat at a table with a hot drink

Ossa Organic is a food business on a mission to inspire people to change the way we eat, from choosing fast and convenient to nourishing ourselves for optimal gut health and wellness.

Our first product to market was organic and traditional bone broth, which was also the first to hit UK supermarket shelves in 2015. As a business we are focused on tradition not trend, and a lot of mine and the teams’ time is spent in educating and inspiring people to move away from 0% fat diet culture and processed foods, and instead to use ancient nutrition as a way to heal themselves and feel well. A great example of this was our Bone Broth Bar held in January of this year, where we held a pop up for three weeks in the iconic Selfridges food hall in Central London, serving hot cups of chicken, beef and vegan broths and chatting to customers about gut health and these nourishing traditions.

Ossa Organic products and ingredients

I joined the Innovating for Growth programme, just before the pandemic hit and the world as we knew came to a halt. During this time the programme was an exceptional form of support and motivation and reminded me of the many vital practices for entrepreneurs, which help us to refocus and reprioritise our working lives:

  • To plan and think strategy in a quickly changing landscape
  • To visualise my goals
  • To be creative
  • To collaborate
  • To make time to rest

All of these now make up my primary focuses in a working week as I continually learn to be more kind and patient with myself and remember my favourite mantra, ‘You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.’

My week

My weeks are always different as I do keep a routine, but am someone who thrives in a dynamic and varied environment. I spend every day working to grow and build Ossa but make my family and my children a priority as well as myself.

Self care

I am sure there are many female entrepreneurs who are mothers that understand if you are not giving time to yourself, you will ultimately fail. Self-care gives you more energy and ultimately it is this positivity and motivation that you can gift back to your family and your business.

Once I have completed my maternity leave, I will resume my weekly routine which includes:

  • yoga three – five days per week before the house wakes up (a rare moment for stillness and inward reflection)
  • I also practice meditation and do a 10 minute breath work session or journey most days. This helps me still my mind and some of my best ideas for the business or moments of clarity to make better decisions, come in this time. I always keep a notebook close by to jot down any ideas that spring to mind.
  • I rest and recalibrate by using the sauna two times a week for 20 minutes, which promotes detoxification, gut health and digestion and gives me time to detox from the digital, putting myself in a space where it is literally impossible to check Instagram or emails.

I am a mother of three and have just welcomed our third child into the world, so I am currently on maternity leave. At such a pivotal time in a woman’s life, I have been so proud to take time out and realise what we have created in Ossa Organic.

Through my pregnancy, labour and birth (which took place at home) I sipped on bone broth and remembered how it all began. Ossa was born when I was pregnant with my first son and in search for an all-natural and organic source of nutrients for my body and found an elixir in bone broth. Hailed for millennia as “liquid gold", bone broth is rich in the nutrients from slow cooked bones including collagen, gelatin, glycine and amino acids to help seal the gut, strengthen immunity and much more. It was then I realised that there was nothing readily available and that it was time to share an alternative away from processed fast foods and bring these ancient nourishing traditions to supermarket shelves. Now, five years after launching, as a new mother I am able to enjoy the product that my body really needs during this pivotal time of rest and recovery.

Ossa Organic products and ingredients

Living my own brand

It has been so powerful for me to live my own brand over the lifetime of the business. I started looking into ancestral nutrition as a way of life seven years ago when I was pregnant with our first child. Ossa Organic was born five years ago, and since then, my team and I have worked weekly to inspire others to make their gut health a priority and to learn about bone broth and natural, organic and traditional foods. We share more on our blog.

My team and I have become experts at working remotely, considering the current times. We work on two team meetings a week which can be one – two hours long. We spend time looking at our micro and macro goals and then give each team member dedicated tasks.

As a female entrepreneur and a mom, the power of a strong team behind me is everything. To have trust and support from people who understand and grasp your business, gives me strength as a CEO and allows me to focus more on what I want to achieve for the business.

I work five days a week and start very early, as I am an early bird. I like to finish work by 15.30 to be able to collect the children, and on days this is not possible, I know I can make this time when I need to. This is vitally important to me.

I also spend a portion of time each week reading, researching, and discovering new ideas and trends in the way of health, mindfulness and biohacking. All these areas relate to Ossa and help keep me at the cutting edge and inspired.

I am most recently very interested in regenerative farming and soil health as all this links to the microbiome. Having left a corporate job where I was a Partner in a large firm in the City of London, I have spent two years out of that world and immersed in my own business where I have had the pleasure of being able to design my own life. The power of having control over how you work, allows you to create a life that suits your best interests. I believe this way of living has made me more productive and more inspired in both business and everyday life.

29 October 2020

Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups diary – The Street Food Company – part 2

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Hi, and welcome back to part 2 of The Street Food Company blog (read part 1 here if you missed it)! After another great six weeks, we have finally finished the Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme and have managed to build a solid growth plan that we are so excited to start actioning.

After all the workshop learnings from the first half of the programme, part 2 really allowed us to tailor this work to our business with focussed one-to-one consultations.

Everything kicked off with one of the most overlooked areas of a business, market research. Not only did we have access to thousands of up-to-date market reports via the programme, we also had Oliver, our dedicated Business Library researcher. Oliver was able to help us answer specific questions we had e.g. were young people engaged in cooking sauces? How has COVID-19 changed people’s eating and cooking habits? Getting these questions answered gave us a much clearer picture about the opportunity in the market and how our products and offering could be as competitive as possible.

Two cheeseburgers being held

With this research in hand we decided to engage a design agency to help us reposition our brand and get the key messages right. During this design phase, we fortunately met with Alex and Ceyda from Briffa, a specialist IP law firm. They were able to give us advice about protecting trade marks and other business intellectual property, both in the UK and abroad, and reviewed our existing confidentiality agreements and privacy policies. We now feel so much more confident in protecting all our work.

Our final meeting was with Uday from Red Ochre where we brainstormed final thoughts and ideas from all areas of the course so we could confidently walk away with an actionable growth plan that will truly make a difference to our company.

We are now incredibly excited to launch our updated brand and products and to crack on with our mission of making truly unique, adventurous and fun products with crazy bold flavours that other companies are afraid to do; that challenges the status quo and pushes the boundaries of food and flavour. If you are as passionate and creative with food as we are, subscribe on our website and be the first to find out!

All in all, it has been a fantastic journey and couldn’t have come at a better time. I would like to thank the British Library for accepting us on this course with a big shout-out to Julie and Anna the Relationship Managers, who have been fantastic. Also big thanks to all the mentors who have helped so many companies with their growth plans in such volatile times.

Although it’s goodbye to the Innovating for Growth programme, we are now looking forward to joining the BIPC’s Growth Club and getting access to their amazing guest speakers. For those thinking of taking part on the course, all I can say is get over to the Innovating for Growth page on the British Library website and apply.

Thanks for now and Let Your Taste Buds Travel!

James and Kevin

28 September 2020

Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups diary – The Street Food Company – part 1

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We are once again following another business through the Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme, The Street Food Company. You can read last year's diary from JR Pass and The Good Slice’s diary from earlier this year. You will hear first-hand about the programme’s different sessions and how they are using these to focus and change their business direction. Let’s here more from James.

“Hi, I’m James and together with my co-founder Kevin, we started The Street Food Company.  The business sparked from our backpacking adventures and tasting the world’s best street food, from Bangkok’s shredded mango salads, chorizo chilli mint hotdogs from Havana to the toasted coconut curries of Sri Lanka. Back in the UK, we couldn’t find the same electrifying flavours and inspiring dishes anywhere and were bored with the more mainstream dishes everyone was offering.

Street Food market selling grilled foods

We decided to make a range of bold, adventurous and unique Street Food sauces that helped others easily recreate the world’s best street food with just a few simple ingredients, no need for specialist skills or hard-to-find herbs and spices. We started supplying university chefs to help them provide street food for their students, but the business has recently grown into theme parks, football stadia to pub chains and hotels across the UK. Our simple mission to help anyone easily recreate the world’s best street food that we find on our travels was well underway!

Fast forward to March this year and all that changed.  All our customers had to close their doors and the food service sector as we knew it changed overnight. We quickly decided to turn our focus to diversifying our business and to launch a retail side for consumers who wanted to cook more adventurously at home with bolder world flavours. The Innovating for Growth programme couldn’t have come at a better time as we now had access to a group of specialist advisors who could help us in every aspect of our new retail growth plan, to ensure we focussed our limited resources in the right direction at such a critical time.

We kicked off with a session by Rasheed Ogunlaru, owner of Soul Trader. The meeting was not only a great way to meet and interact with the other businesses on the course, but it also focussed on us as founders and the importance of looking after ourselves and that we have a clear vision, mission and plan for our own lives as much as we should for our business.

The rest of the course was focussed on our growth plan, which centres around a simple one page Business Model Canvas tool, that helps you layout how you will deliver products and services that your customers value and will pay for. Our opening strategy session with Robert from Red Ochre identified the key to our growth as being:

  1. A clearer value proposition for our products.
  2. More defined target customers.
  3. Finding the right marketing activities.
  4. Identifying the right partners to sell the products through.

With a much clearer focus on what we needed, we dived straight into brand sessions run by Dave and Sandra from ABA, which helped us realise the importance of branding, it being the sum total of everything your company does and how it behaves. It’s how customers feel about your brand and not what you think they feel. This focussed our thinking on the purpose of our company, what we could be best in the world at and how we should communicate this to our customers.

Our company purpose has now changed from helping people to make street food at home to one with a much bigger mission of making truly unique, adventurous and fun products with crazy bold flavours that other companies are afraid to do; that challenges the status quo and pushes the boundaries of food and flavour. We are reinvigorated as the potential and possibilities feel limitless.

Drunk Pony Ribs from The Street Food Company

We excitedly jumped into a Marketing session with Helen from ABA where we learned to create detailed customer personas to really understand our customers, focus on communicating the emotional benefits of our products and to detail our customer’s journey to give a five star service at every touchpoint.

With customers on our mind, we met with Dean from Fluxx, an incredible product and service innovation company.  We felt we knew our customers, but Fluxx challenged us to question our assumptions and delve deeper, suggesting great techniques like diary studies and split testing to really get inside the heads of our customers and understand how and why they use our products.

Last, but certainly not least, was financial planning with Julie from Metavalue. This session addressed our questions over budgeting, pricing and KPIs, helped us to create a financial forecast and plan and has instilled a commitment in us to review our P&L (profit and loss), balance sheet and key financial information monthly.

The programme has been incredibly useful in helping us work through our new business direction and we can’t wait to get stuck into Part 2 and let you know more! Feel free to follow us on Instagram and Facebook or contact us at hello@discoverstreetfood.com. ‘Till then, Let Your Taste Buds Travel!"

Read part 2 here.

24 July 2020

How Innovating for Growth is helping business throughout the crisis

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For the first time in the programme’s history, Innovating for Growth has taken place entirely online. Participants can now have virtual one-to-ones with our external consultants, ‘meet’ each other in online workshops. It’s not only the way the programme is currently being run which has pivoted due to the current crisis, the goals of the businesses taking part have also changed, some struggling to keep going, many changing the way they operate, others trying to keep up with the demand their product or service has seen increase.

We caught up with our delivery partners to find out first-hand how they can support Innovating for Growth businesses and why now might be the best time to apply for the programme…

Red Ochre – Growth strategy

“For the majority of businesses we’ve seen during the pandemic, there had been a stop or slow down in trading. However, there is a lot of positivity. For many there is an improvement in the situation, others are exploring new opportunities and others can see a positive change when various sanctions are lifted. In every case the initial panic has been allayed by the input from the consultants.

“We can help businesses identify what can they do in the short term, how to prepare for more changes in the midterm, provide someone to talk to, someone looking outside in, someone giving a wider perspective to help build resilience and sustainability.”

Since 2012, we've supported over 520 businesses

Meta Value – Financial planning

“We can help businesses be resilient and adapt and help figure out a model to make it all easier and less dependent on them (a common problem). We can also help stabilize the business and identifying the right model so they can then grow or consolidate.

“We can also help with grants, which might not be relevant for all businesses, but the option is available.”

Newable – Innovation

“It’s sometimes daunting or difficult to take the time in a business owners’ busy schedule to spend time to work on the business, rather than the day to day fire-fighting. This programme is a great way to discuss and confide in experienced professionals obstacles or opportunities they might be facing.

“We can also highlight the wealth of other resources available with the BIPC which might be relevant to your business, such as the free market research reports and programme of webinars.”

Since 2012, 50% of scale-up businesses have been female led

ABA – Marketing and branding

“We’ve seen a real mixture of those fighting to survive and those who are paddling frantically to keep up with demand or change in circumstances. Regardless of where they find themselves, the reality is (i) they were all having to deal with changing circumstances, not a static landscape; and (ii) they all needed – and I’m sure benefited – from having an expert, outside perspective on the state of their business, the state of the market, and the possible ways forward.”

BRIFFA – Intellectual property

“The businesses we’ve supported since the start of the crisis were looking at how to protect their IP whilst they ride this storm and adapt to new working conditions with the lockdown conditions rather than consideration of future prospects. We also found that some of the candidates had been considering or attempting to try and adapt their business to be digital and needed to understand on how to protect their IP online along with following compliance with GDPR and other commercial aspects like terms and conditions and registering of domains/trade marks. We can help with all of this, so whatever intellectual property query you may have, the programme will be able to support you.”

Since 2012, over 500 jobs have been created

Whatever concern you and your business may be facing, Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups can support London-based businesses to pivot, diversity, plan their finance and adapt in these challenging times with £10,000 worth of free, tailored advice. Visit our website for more information about the programme or to complete our qualifying questionnaire.

14 July 2020

Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups diary - The Good Slice – part 2

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Hello, I’m excited to share the progress we’ve made since we last checked in. Ups, downs, turn it all arounds… It’s been a wonderful journey. Pizza in the post is nearly a go! Please take a look at our website and subscribe to our mailing list to find out when we go live.

The Good Slice stand

Calum and I haven't seen each other in person since March. We were meant to be working side by side from May through to October, hopping from festival to festival. Alas… we firmly believe that our challenges are our best teachers. We’re coming out of this stronger, with a better business in tow - thanks in no small part to the Innovating for Growth programme.

Often when problems arise our outlook can become narrow. We may focus on worrying about our own issues and have a sense that we’re the only ones going through difficulties. The Innovating for Growth programme has helped us see things from a wider perspective. Connecting with dozens of other entrepreneurs has been a joy, while the hours of dedicated service and expertise - beamed through Zoom from home to home - have equipped us with the skills needed to identify and execute on an exciting opportunity.

The Good Slice pizza

Very soon you'll be able to order a Good Slice through our website and have it arrive on your doorstep the next day. From San Marzano tomato, smoked burrata and basil to sumac yogurt, burnt aubergine, herb and sesame salad - we’ve worked to create a menu that sources local, but is truly global. And of course, as well as being healthy, fresh and sustainably sourced, every pizza will provide a meal to someone in need.

Members can choose to have pizza delivered weekly, bi-weekly, or once a month, from our ever evolving menu. They’ll benefit from free delivery and a discount. They’ll also be surprised with goodies from partner suppliers and other social enterprises. They’ll become a part of a community united by pizza and purpose. A community into which we’ll share recipes and inspiring stories, highlighting the amazing things they’re helping to achieve.

Pizza with purpose

The Innovating for Growth programme has propelled us forward in what are incredibly tough times. The advisors and consultants have inspired us, and the wonderful British Library staff have been so lovely, and so organised! Our long-term goal is to ensure all people on this planet have the nutrition they need to lead healthy and productive lives. Thank you all for helping us get there. And to anyone considering joining the programme, go for it!

Peace, Love and Pizza,
Ed & Calum

14 May 2020

Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups diary - The Good Slice

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This year we’re following another business through the Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme, The Good Slice. You can read last year's diary from JR Pass here. You will hear first-hand about the different sessions, how they are using the programme to discuss diversifying and pivoting their offer during this time of change. Here we find out more from Ed…

Ed, co-founder and Dough Man at The Good Slice
Ed, co-founder of The Good Slice

Hello, I’m Ed, co-founder and Dough Man at The Good Slice - a social enterprise with a simple message: Eat Good, Do Good. For every pizza we sell, we provide a meal to someone in need. One-for-one. So far we've provided 5,000 meals to the children of Well-Wishes Nursery in Malawi, and 12,000 meals to London’s homeless community, via our partners Glass Door Homeless Charity.

We pop up at events across the country, including some pretty big festivals - like Glastonbury and Hay. There’s been a great appetite for our pizza and our purpose, and our one-for-one model is making a real difference. We’re therefore looking to expand into the delivery market - operating through delivery only Cloud Kitchens. Our experience on the festival circuit coupled with order enquiries from a number of corporate clients indicate that there is a real gap in the market for pizza with purpose.

Eat Good, Do Good t-shirt

Feeling more than a little nervous about the future, we were welcomed onto the Innovating for Growth programme in early April. On the 28th February, we’d received an offer to trade at Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary - possibly the biggest news Calum (the other co-founder) and I had ever received. A few days later we were processing the prospect of cancellation... In the weeks that followed, all of the weddings, festivals and events that we were wholly reliant upon from income were postponed for a year. Could there have been a better time to benefit from the expert advice and guidance delivered via this programme?

We kicked off with a workshop on the business model canvas. This session, combined with follow up work and a deep dive one-on-one on the same subject, encouraged us to explore how we delivered value. The framework lays bare what it is you do, how it is you do it, and who you do it for - placing your value proposition front and centre, with Uday, the external consultant from Red Ochre.

In the Growth Strategy meeting we identified our value proposition to be our pizza - freshly made with seasonal ingredients sourced from local suppliers who champion sustainability - and our purpose - we’re on a mission to share good food that enables communities around the world to live good lives. How we deliver this value and to whom are the key questions we went onto discuss with Robert (another external consultant from Red Ochre).

Image002

With a number of thoughts, ideas and strategies whizzing around, we moved onto talk branding with Al from aba - a brand and people agency focused on building brands with purpose. We discussed how brands that start with why stand to win the emotional and commercial battle (I can’t recommend Start with Why - Simon Sinek enough). The session cemented what we knew and inspired us to create content that will help tell our story. The Good Slice is a brand driven by purpose.

Calum and I left jobs in ‘the city’ after becoming disillusioned with what we saw as misguided homage to individual enrichment over the common good. In our eyes business as usual - with a focus on churning out short-term financial gains to shareholders - was/is broken. A 10,000km road trip through East Africa laid bare the fact that the world provides for seven billion people, but our greed and waste leaves a billion starving, while another billion become obese. We vowed to inspire change; to prove that business can be a force for good. This purpose drives us forward every day.

With renewed vigor, we moved onto marketing with Dave from aba. What size pond do you operate in? How is it changing? What size fish are you? Key questions we began to consider. Further discussion centered upon which channels to focus attention. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Tik Tok, Google, email… this list goes on. Too often have we fallen victim to shiny object syndrome. I’d recommend Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares - a helpful guide to this ever evolving world.

Next up, product and service innovation - a big one for us given these challenging times. We joined the programme with ambition to expand into the delivery market - operating through delivery only Cloud Kitchens. These production kitchens would utilise the now ubiquitous food delivery apps on your smartphone, such as CityPantry and Deliveroo. Ahead of the pandemic, we were working closely with these platforms to identify areas of unmet demand. We planned to rent kitchen space from Karma Kitchen, the WeWork of commercial kitchens - once we’d established suitable locations. The focus was to be on corporate catering, delivering pizza with purpose to offices in central London. For obvious reasons, this plan is on hold.

Instead we have identified an opportunity in the chef-to-customer market. Pizza by post… With Adrian from Newable, we discussed logistics, operations and scalability. Work continues apace on this project - I look forward to updating you on progress in a few weeks’ time.

That brings us to the end of the first half of the programme. Each session has been immensely valuable, helping us as we pivot and manoeuvre the business into a position from which we will not only survive, but thrive. Please follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for updates as they come. Otherwise, I look forward to writing another instalment for you next month. Peace, Love and Pizza x

Read part 2 here.

The Good Slice banner

14 October 2019

Follow JRPass' Director through the Innovating for Growth programme: Strategy 1:1 Part 2

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Each quarter, we pick 18 high-growth businesses to take part in our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme, where businesses receive £10,000 worth of tailored and bespoke business support and advice. Not only do businesses gain three months of guidance, they also receive automatic membership to our Growth Club and their own Relationship Manager.

This quarter, we’re following Haroun, Director of JRPass, a train travel company for those exploring Japan by rail. Haroun will talk us through each session as he progresses through the programme to get the successes and challenges of what it’s like to run a growing businesses. You can see Haroun's previous posts about financial management 1:1, product innovation 1:1intellectual property 1:1marketingbrandingintellectual propertyfinancial managementproduct innovationmarketing strategybranding and research and developing a growth strategy on our blog. In his final diary entry, Haroun has his second session on strategy...

Japanese train in station
Photo courtesy of JRPass

Well, here we are at the end of three months, 15 sessions and countless follow-ups. It’s come and gone ever so quickly, so this final strategy one-to-one session gives us a good time to take stock. We went through the findings from the branding, marketing, finance and innovation sessions. The main takeaways were that we have so much scope for growth that I need support, so I will be hiring to capitalise on those opportunities, especially in the areas of marketing and business development. Our expansion plans are pretty clear and we must make sure that we execute properly and as rapidly as is possible. We also need to invest time into research and skills acquisition for our new growth areas.

I have found the scale-up course very useful, especially as a way of giving me the head-space to concentrate on issues that I knew needed to be tackled, but have been too busy for day-to-day. Here are my personal take-aways for anyone considering the course:

  • We are all very busy in the day-to-day running of our businesses but to take full benefit you do need to make time for both the sessions and any follow up tasks to take full benefit. This maybe a truism, but you will only get out as much as you put in.
  • The advisers are exactly that, people to advise you on your current status and next steps. They aren’t there to provide a detailed step-by-step plan. They will vary in how much they know about your industry. You, yourself, ultimately should be the arbiter of what is best for yourself. You’ve done well getting this far in your business, so trust your instincts and use the advisers as neutral external interrogators of your business. This will be where the best value lays.
  • The pace of sessions can be overwhelming at times especially with the day job, so pace yourself, prioritise and plan effectively.
  • Before attending, have a deep think about what you want to get out of the sessions. There will be nagging concerns that you may have about your business and this would be a good opportunity to have those addressed.
  • Enjoy meeting new people, there are lots of fascinating people that attend!

Well, that’s it for me, it’s been fun sharing my experiences. Also, I hope that if you consider a trip to Japan that you’ll consider us! I’ll leave you with our ten top tips for first time travellers.

Thanks, Haroun

 

Visit our website for more information about Innovating for Growth and how to register your interest for the next application round.

09 October 2019

Follow JRPass' Director through the Innovating for Growth programme: Financial management 1:1 Part 2

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Each quarter, we pick 18 high-growth businesses to take part in our Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme, where businesses receive £10,000 worth of tailored and bespoke business support and advice. Not only do businesses gain three months of guidance, they also receive automatic membership to our Growth Club and their own Relationship Manager.

This quarter, we’re following Haroun, Director of JRPass, a train travel company for those exploring Japan by rail. Haroun will talk us through each session as he progresses through the programme to get the successes and challenges of what it’s like to run a growing businesses. You can see Haroun's previous posts about product innovation 1:1, intellectual property 1:1marketingbrandingintellectual propertyfinancial managementproduct innovationmarketing strategybranding and research and developing a growth strategy on our blog. In his latest diary entry, Haroun has his second session on financial management...

Japan Rail Pass Guide
Photo courtesy of JRPass

If you have been following the blog you will know that at JRPass we are in the midst of planning another website offering new services. Over the past few months we have used the sessions on branding, marketing and product innovation to develop this further. This time, the second of the finance sessions, was really helpful as we dived in-depth into modelling with the adviser from Metavalue.

We have a couple of options on new partnerships for the website, so the main focus of the discussion was which of these would be the most viable option. The conversation involved our margin, potential site visitors, conversion rate, payment costs, staffing costs, average basket size and advertising/marketing budget. After we got grip of all these numbers and worked out a financial template, we agreed that the following assumptions and points would have to be further investigated:

  • Before any additional mark-up the initial business could be low-margin so it will be important to control costs.
  • We made assumptions on support costs and UK vs Japan-based staff. These would have to be validated.
  • It is important to test all the inputted data and update them as we start trading, for example average order sizes and conversion rates. Pirate analytics (yes, I said ‘Pirate’) will help as these allow you to track data on visitors, post per acquisition etc. A useful guide on start-up metrics can be found here.
  • Briefly, we also touched on a previous conversation about potential exit routes. Pitchbook news and Crunchbase were mentioned as good sources of news and information.

There's only one more session left and on in my final blog, for the benefit of prospective applicants, I will talk about how I feel you can get the best out of the scale-up course. Also, whilst we are talking about budgeting, inspired by all these spreadsheets and finance chat, we wrote a blog on budgeting for a trip to Japan.


Visit our website for more information about Innovating for Growth and how to register your interest for the next application round.