Posted: Wed 12th Oct 2016
Entrepreneur and friend of Enterprise Nation, Tara Mei, discusses the story behind her business, Kitchen Table Projects, that has run pop-up shops and incubates and supports food start-ups. She also discusses Bread & Butter, a two-day festival for food businesses in London on 12-13 November.
How did you come up with the idea for Kitchen Table Projects and turn that idea into a business?
I ran my own food business after graduating from uni and I've also been part of a tech accelerator and startup communities like Enterprise Nation. I've been really blown away by the power of startups working together to achieve great things. I set up Kitchen Table Projects because I wanted to give food and drink businesses an opportunity to engage with likeminded people and access the information and resources they needed to turn their visions into a reality.
What lessons did you learn from your first pop-up that you applied to your second?
I learnt that everything goes 10 times faster when you're running a pop-up, so you have to make decisions super quickly and confidently, otherwise everything will crash all around you! With the second pop-up, I had a great team around me and that was super helpful. Everybody knew exactly what they needed to do to make it run smoothly.
What are the key characteristics of the best food start-ups that you've worked with?
A great level-headed attitude is key to food startup success. The problem with food is, everyone eats! So everyone thinks that they understand the food industry and what it takes to succeed. I think the real superstars in the food start-up world have sought advice from industry leaders and learnt from the mistakes of people who have gone before them.
How did you come up with the idea for Bread & Butter?
Bread & Butter came about because we've been running events and incubator programmes for a year now, helping over 500 food startups get off the ground. One of the things that people often said was that they met such great, inspiring people at our events. So I really wanted to do something where everyone could join us and learn from each other as well as the industry greats.
What do you hope to achieve from the festival?
I'd really like to make sure everyone has a great time and learns lots, but I'm also hoping that Bread & Butter becomes a new way for food and drink producers to do business. We've also got some fantastic pitching opportunities lined up with NotOnTheHighStreet, Fortnum & Mason and Whole Foods Market, so I hope that producers make the most of those opportunities to engage with those retail buyers in an environment that's super supportive and friendly.
What are your three top tips for business success based on your experience so far?
1. Get on with it. No, really, GET ON WITH IT! Don't be scared
2. Find super successful, super cool businesspeople to become your mentors. They are definitely out there and they can't wait to help startups because they know exactly what it's like trying to get something off the ground
3. Do your numbers. And get an accountant who's on your side and isn't afraid to say it how it is
Find out more about Bread & Butter and book your tickets here.