Startups 100 Index welcomes Pasta Evangelists co-founder as guest judge

Finn Lagun, co-founder of artisanal food company Pasta Evangelists, will join the Startups experts to choose the winner of 2024’s Marketing award

Our experts

We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality.
Written and reviewed by:

Finn Lagun, co-founder of Startups 100 three-time member Pasta Evangelists, has been announced as guest judge for the Startups 100 Index 2024 Marketing Award.

The luxury pasta entrepreneur is the second guest judge to be announced for this year’s list, which reopened for entries in April. In collaboration with the Startups’ panel of experts, Lagun will meticulously select the winner of the new Marketing Award from the list of the top 100.

The recipient of the award will be a UK startup with a sharp eye for robust but inventive marketing strategies and with a flair for compelling storytelling that sways customers.

Championing the startups community, Lagun reveals “I said yes to being a Startups 100 guest judge so that I can help say ‘well done’ to other startups, and their founding teams, who are pushing the boat out and driving some of the biggest developments on the British SME scene.”

Who is Finn Lagun?

Pasta Evangelists began as a three-man job in 2017 and is the classic rags to riches story. After being branded as ‘pasta la disaster’ on Dragons Den, Lagun’s luxury pasta subscription box service went on to grow to a $26 million revenue idea in 2021. The meteoric success of the startup also led to opening a restaurant in London and an acquisition by Barilla for a reported £40m, the world’s largest pasta maker.

Whether it’s for romantic date nights, family meal times, or solo sofa suppers, Pasta Evangelists has made its way into homes across the nation. The brand sells high quality fresh recipe kits that are rebranding pasta as an artisanal, immersive culinary experience.

Lagun’s pasta renaissance and entrepreneurial vision earned him a spot in Forbes 30 under 30 in 2022. Pasta Evangelists has also ranked on the Startups 100 three times, snatching the 11th position in the latest ranking.

For Lagun, innovative and imaginative marketing has been key. “At Pasta Evangelists our brand is underpinned by storytelling.” he shares.

“From the very beginning, we recognised that it would be important to spirit our customers away to Italy. We focused a lot on the provenance of different dishes; of age-old recipes that people may never have heard of before, creating magic and romance around our products.”

Al dente marketing: what does it look like?

Pasta Evangelists are proof of how correlated compelling storytelling is with business triumph. Whether a sound social media strategy or search-optimised online presence, marketing is make-or-break for startups who are trying to scale.

Yet Lagun highlights how it’s an ongoing, evolving task that doesn’t get taken seriously enough.

“Too many businesses see ‘branding’ as a one-off exercise that happens at the outset of a business and is then confined to a ‘brand book’ and otherwise forgotten,” warns Lagun. “A brand is not the sum of a brand book, or a logo, but rather the sum of every single action that takes place within a company every single day.”

Recognising the small details of how a brand is perceived in the market – and calibrating strategy accordingly – is the secret ingredient that can elevate marketing from meh to mamma mia!

“When a company does not recognise this, they do not afford ample attention to the ‘small details’,” emphasises Lagun. “When these are overlooked, a brand is unable to attain the ‘magic’ it requires to really shine; to be more than the ordinary.”

Changing marketing recipes

As our Marketing Award guest judge, Lagun is excited about the ebb and flow of marketing trends and all the innovative tools brands currently have at their disposal.

“TikTok is presenting lots of exciting challenges for marketers, mainly because many of us don’t use, or therefore fully understand, the platforms in a personal capacity,” notes Lagun.

“From what I’ve observed, TikTok advertising requires a completely different approach to, say, Meta advertising: it is not simply a case of one-creative-fills-all. Equally, TikTok Shop provides exciting opportunities for brands to rapidly reach consumers and sell in real time.”

However, despite other innovations like AI entering the digital marketing space, Lagun still thinks the core ingredients of a sound marketing strategy have remained unchanged.

“Truth be told, though, [AI] is not quite there yet, and creating magic will always, ultimately, require a human touch,” stresses Lagun. “It does seem clear to me that AI is going to be deployed to create more effective digital ads, though: there are already tools out there that create paid social ads, for instance, though these tools still need to be refined.”

Could you be the next Startups 100 marketing champion?

Like the Romans before them, Pasta Evangelists have built a luxury pasta empire.

When asked what Lagun will be looking for to find this year’s marketing champion, Lagun wants to pivot from big marketing budgets and focus on the hard work that the basics of marketing require.

“I will be particularly excited to see evidence of real growth hacking: building a brand not by spending a fortune, but through hard work, creativity and sheer chutzpah,” outlines Lagun.

Are you an entrepreneur with a blossoming business and a keen eye for marketing? Apply to the Startups 100 for a chance to be named the UK startup with the best marketing strategy for 2024.

Read more:

Written by:
Fernanda is a Mexican-born Startups Writer. Specialising in the Marketing & Finding Customers pillar, she’s always on the lookout for how startups can leverage tools, software, and insights to help solidify their brand, retain clients, and find new areas for growth. Having grown up in Mexico City and Abu Dhabi, Fernanda is passionate about how businesses can adapt to new challenges in different economic environments to grow and find creative ways to engage with new and existing customers. With a background in journalism, politics, and international relations, Fernanda has written for a multitude of online magazines about topics ranging from Latin American politics to how businesses can retain staff during a recession. She is currently strengthening her journalistic muscle by studying for a part-time multimedia journalism degree from the National Council of Training for Journalists (NCTJ).

Leave a comment

Leave a reply

We value your comments but kindly requests all posts are on topic, constructive and respectful. Please review our commenting policy.

Back to Top