Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2015
Startups Awards 2015 @ Vinopolis, London ***Pic by David McHugh***
Start-up name: PROPERCORN
Founders: Ryan Kohn and Cassandra Stavrou
Started in: 2011
Based in: London
Business description: Low-calorie, gluten-free popcorn range
Owners of the ‘fastest growing snack brand in the UK’, Cassandra Stavrou and Ryan Kohn took home the title of the MadeSimple Group-sponsored Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2015 Startups Awards.
PROPERCORN itself came into existence after Stavrou quit her office job to launch the healthy popcorn business after seeing how her colleagues’ choice of afternoon snacks left them feeling dissatisfied.
This decision to take a risk and branch out on her own has paid off and it was Stavrou’s drive and determination to “create a snack without compromise” that helped to convince the Startups Awards judges of their victor.
An award which recognises the country’s most inspiring founders aged 30 and under, Stavrou stood out to the judges for having built a £5m global brand in little under four years.
Launched with co-founder Ryan Kohn, PROPERCORN promises to deliver ‘popcorn done properly’ with its gluten-free, vegetarian-friendly popcorn range which has become a favourite among foodies and fashionistas – it’s the official snack of London Fashion Week – and is stocked with over 10,000 retailers including Selfridges and Tesco.
The pair currently lead a team of over 30 staff – and 60 student ambassadors –and is hugely ambitious when it comes to growing the business; the company already exports to France, Holland and Belgium and plans to expand in eight new markets imminently.
Named Young Guns in 2014, Stavrou and Kohn faced stiff category competition from fellow Young Guns Ross Bailey of pop-up marketplace Appear Here (named second place runner-up) and Timo Schmidt and James Carter of food delivery start-up Gousto (third place). But her early success in creating a multi-million pound business based on the principles of healthy snacking made her a deserved winner of the Young Entrepreneur accolade.