Startups Awards Hall of Fame: Joe Sopher, Joe & Seph’s Gourmet Popcorn

The 2012 Silver Fox winner tells us why his Startups Award meant recognition and credibility for his unique and "unheard of" business concept

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  • Natasha Mc Gowan

Our 2012 Silver Fox winner Joe & Seph's Gourmet Popcorn also made it into the prestigious Startups 100 list back in 2013, due to its innovative concept, staggering growth and predominance in the market; having won eight Great Taste Awards, two Gold Stars, and securing shelf space in luxury UK outlets and hotels including Harrods, Selfridges, and Claridges.

Originally conceived by former electrical wholesaler Joe Sopher, after spending years trying to create his high-end and flavoursome popcorn, wife Jackie and son Adam Sopher joined up with Joe to launch the business in 2012.

Now with a global market presence, 15 Great Taste Awards and a turnover of more than £1m; the Sliver Fox winner tells us why winning a Startups Award added credibility to the Joe & Seph's brand and product – and helped it stand out to buyers and consumers alike. 

What’s happened in the last three years since you entered the Startups Awards?

Joe & Seph’s has continued to grow quickly, and has doubled and tripled our turnover year-on-year since we entered the Startups Awards. The export side of our business in particular has grown considerably and we now send our popcorn to over 15 countries around the world, and as far as Australia, Japan and the USA!

Of course we’re still creating lots of new popcorn flavours, and now have a range of over 40 different varieties, which have won a total of 15 Great Taste Awards! More recently, we’ve launched our new caramel sauce range, which will be hitting the shelves in the UK this year.

What’s been the single biggest highlight for the business since winning?

The first time we reached a turnover of £1m within the financial year, and more recently when our overseas activity contributed to over 20% of our sales.

What are you hoping to achieve in the next year or so?

We are going to continue creating amazing and innovative popcorn flavours, and are focusing on increasing exports to drive growth for the business.

We’ve got some really exciting leads in the UK too, so watch this space!

What did winning at the Startups Awards mean to you?

It was great for us to win a Startups Award; to get the recognition from such a prestigious panel really helped add credibility to what we were trying to achieve. Previously gourmet popcorn was unheard of in the UK, but having such a great endorsement really helped to put our product on the map, and opened doors with a number of key buyers.

Why would you recommend entering awards like this?

The marketing value to us was huge, as it added credibility to our brand and product, which is so important when talking to buyers and consumers.

It was also a really useful exercise to take a step back from the frantic day-to-day running of a start-up business and objectively look at what you’ve actually achieved – it helps you to understand what all the hard work was about!

To enter the 2015 Startups Awards, click here.

Natasha Mc Gowan

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