Startups Awards Hall of Fame: Cassandra Stavrou and Ryan Cohn, PROPERCORN
Young entrepreneurs Cassandra and Ryan tell Startups about expanding overseas and how it felt to become part of Startups Awards illustrious alumni,...
Founders: Cassandra Stavrou and Ryan Cohn
Year Started: 2011
PROPERCORN is the fastest growing snack brand in the UK. The idea came to Cassandra who realised that there was a lack of healthy and tasty snacks available and decided to create her own using popcorn.
Stavrou overcame a multitude of challenges to bring the company into fruition and in just four years built it into a £5m global brand that has been stocked everywhere from London Fashion Week to Selfridges and Tesco.
Startups caught up with Cassandra and Ryan a year later to hear about their continued expansion overseas and how winning allowed their stellar team to celebrate their fantastic success.
What’s happened in the last year since you entered the Startups Awards?
Every year since our launch in 2011 has been an absolute rollercoaster and 2016 has definitely been no exception. We moved offices to accommodate our growing team of 40, we’re now available to buy in 10 countries and we’ve just secured our first round of funding to take this international growth even further.
What’s been the single biggest highlight for the business since winning?
It’s so difficult to say and I’d have to pick two. The first was spending our summer celebrating seasoning with the Institute of Flavour. We created a pop-up flavour factory in Soho with the mad brains over at Bompass and Parr and then turned to the nation to crowd-season our next flavour. We had an amazing 12,500 flavour submissions and will be launching a new Twisted Honeycomb popcorn next month, thanks to Ashling in Dublin.
Another huge milestone was launching our brand new product Crunch Corn, just last week. It’s a half-popped popcorn with the most amazing, moreish texture and is our first venture outside of traditional popcorn. The whole team have been working on it for the last year and we can’t wait to share our discovery with everyone
What are you hoping to achieve in the next year or so?
We’ll be looking to take PROPERCORN to more international markets- we’re currently in countries like Denmark, Germany and Holland and working to understand the trends and nuances in each country is such an exciting challenge. But there’s still a lot of work to be done closer to home and we’ll continue to experiment with new flavours, formats and recipes in the PROPERCORN kitchen.
What did winning at the Startups Awards mean to you?
Over the last 5 years, we’ve watched on as some of the UK’s most iconic, and now well-established, brands have gone on to take gold at the Startups Awards. It feels pretty surreal to now be a part of that alumni but it’s the culmination of 5 years’ hard work from an incredibly ambitious and passionate team.
Why would you recommend entering awards like this?
The main thing is getting recognition for your team and the people who shared the vision and passion when you started out- there are so many exciting businesses out there who have put serious hard-graft in, to get their ideas off the ground. This should definitely be celebrated.