Winners of Richard Branson’s “Foodpreneur” competition announced

Four food start-ups awarded “ultimate mentoring package” by Virgin boss

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The Virgin Start Up Foodpreneur Fest, a food start-up competition fronted by renowned and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, has announced the four winning businesses set to receive an “ultimate mentoring package” to accelerate their growth.

The competition, headed up by Branson alongside a judging panel that included names such as Ella’s Kitchen founder Paul Lindley and Guardian Cook editor Mina Holland, sorted through 318 entries to find the four winners, which were recognised as the UK’s “newest and most exciting” start-ups.

Competition winners are set to receive a package of free mentoring to accelerate their growth, which will include access to legal support from start-up focused law firm Nabarro, brand support from global branding agency Elmwood, and the opportunity to pitch to multiple buyers at online grocery business Ocado.

The four winners chosen by the judging panel were as follows:

  • Proper Beans: Premium baked bean range founded by Ben Mason, 33. Winner of ‘Most Exciting New Brand’ and ‘People’s Choice’ categories.
  • Killer Tomato: Vegetarian street food start-up founded by Matt Paice, 41. Winner of ‘Tastiest Startup’ category.
  • Sweetpea Pantry: Home baking start-up targeted at children founded by Philippa Askan, 39. Winner of ‘Most Loved Kid’s Food’ category.
  • Sweet Virtues: ‘Superfood’ sweet truffles range founded by Carey Davis-Munro, 47. Winner of ‘Best Healthy Food Business’ category.

The winners were chosen from eight finalists, each of which presented a short video pitch to the panel of judges.

Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, said: “Britain is living through a golden age of entrepreneurship with almost 5million small business operating in the UK. At the heart of this are innovative food startups which are popping up all over the country.

The Foodpreneur finalists all demonstrated innovation in their business and it’s been wonderful to meet the bright minds, and talented chefs, behind these ideas. The winners really stood out for their ingenious businesses.

There is such a focus on the food industry and I am delighted to help champion the people revolutionising the way we eat. Proper Beans is a brilliant example of taking a well-known food product and turning it into a pioneering business idea that focuses on British-made, craftsmanship and quality. All four winners are pioneers in the food industry and are definitely ones to watch.”

Paul Lindley, founder of Ella’s Kitchen, added: “Sweetpea Pantry really stood out for me. Capturing children’s imagination in the kitchen is really important in educating the future generation about healthy eating.

“Philippa has big ambitions for her brand and with the mentoring and advice she’ll now receive, I’m sure Sweetpea Pantry is set for big things.”

Ben Mason of Proper Beans said: “To receive this award in only the second week of our business is unbelievable. We’ve already secured £25,000 investment with Virgin Start Up and will now be given the support and mentoring to allow us to take the exciting next step.

“Winning the Foodpreneur award and receiving recognition for the judging panel is an incredible achievement and just the start of the journey for Proper Beans.”

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