Time was, if you had a great food business idea you needed huge sums of money to get going and your only way to get to market was dealing supermarkets. Nowadays, if you think you make the world’s best brownies or burgers, you can get a pitch or truck, a social media account, and just get going.
A large portion of London’s hottest ‘single item’ restaurants that have opened over the past few months have started out as pop ups, start ups and food stalls. But success is hard work, and the original enthusiasm also benefits from detailed experience of mentors.
This is where the Seed Fund comes in, a philanthropic organisation that’s hoping to help the next generation of fledgling food businesses grow. Launched in 2012, it’s now in its fourth year, and its aim is to offer support and mentoring from over 30 industry professionals and business leaders.
Twelve shortlisted companies will then be offered places on The Seed Fund Academy – which runs over a number of days during the summer months. The winning companies can attend seminars, workshops, one-on-one sessions with mentors, industry visits and ‘meet the buyer’ events. One eventual winner will then be announced at the Great Taste Golden Fork Awards Dinner in September, receiving a further year of support worth over £100,000.
Last year’s winner and co-owner of Adam’s Raw Chocolate, Mark Claydon said: “We came into The Seed Academy wanting to learn as much as possible, we left with a network of exciting local food businesses as our friends. Winning the support of The Seed Fund and The Collaborators means the message we want to share with the world will be stronger and more incisive. People’s diets can be massively improved by eating mineral-rich raw foods like raw chocolate; we want to help people lead healthier lives, and to have this support to help spread our message is incredibly exciting.”
Jayne Lilly, owner of The Collaborators and founder of The Seed Fund said of the 2016 entries: “We were spoilt for choice this year with an incredibly strong line-up of finalists from The Seed Academy, but Adam’s Raw Chocolate really captured the imagination of our judges with its brand story and exceptional quality chocolate, which is uniquely different to any others currently in the marketplace. Adam and Mark make a fantastic team and have already shown outstanding commitment to the Seed Academy over the summer months, so we can’t wait to get stuck in and help them make the transition from market stalls to food halls and beyond. It’s so rewarding to see The Seed Fund go from strength to strength each year and 2017 should be no exception, as we widen the Academy’s reach in association with Great Taste and continue to nurture the next generation of emerging talent in our industry.”
The UK’s small food businesses have come on leaps and bounds in recent years, helped by improved logistics, savvy social media, and a curious public looking for quality and taste. With Brexit and a host of other issues there are certainly challenges ahead, but programmes like The Seed Fund are a step in the right direction.
Entries are accepted from February 1, 2017 until March 31, 2017. Visit www.theseedfund.co.uk for more details.