Posted: Tue 10th Dec 2013
For the next two weeks, Enterprise Nation is 'popping up' in Club Workspace near Chancery Lane in London, running free business events and giving our members the chance to work alongside the Enterprise Nation team.
In our first week in the Pop-Up, we met member Tara Sundramoorthi, who told us her start-up story, and we thought you might like to hear it too. We hope it inspires you and that you'll join Enterprise Nation and share your story on the Enterprise Nation blog.
So, Tara, how does your start-up story start?
On the eve of Enterprise Nation's biggest ever StartUp Saturday, I quit my job at a tech startup to start a social enterprise supporting small British food producers. With a background in food and startups, I wanted to put two of my biggest passions together and create a business that helps people achieve their dreams.
Pantry & Parlour is a social enterprise that showcases local food producers on the British High Street by providing a collaborative space for them to sell their products, learn about their market and work together to scale their business effectively. Businesses sell their products alongside other food producers like them, share the costs of running a retail space and receive tailored business support and mentorship along the way.
What was your motivation to want to start up your own business in the first place?
I started my first business at school, when I was 16. Armed with a few of my closest girlfriends and some GCSEs, we started a student magazine. Filled with exclusive teacher interviews, news articles and even a monthly horoscope, our first edition sold out in a single lunch hour and you could say I've never looked back.
Being enterprising is addictive - at university, I started English classes for foreign students, pioneered a cooking programme for people with learning difficulties and, following graduation, opened pop up cafÃ© in Birmingham. People often ask where I find the energy and the answer is always the same. I just knew I wanted to be in the business of making things happen.
What would you say to someone thinking of starting a business?
There's only one thing that's more exciting than thinking about starting a business - and that's actually starting one!
Your very first steps should cost you absolutely nothing. Start by going to a party and pitching your business to anyone who will listen. Two amazing things will happen over the course of the evening: Firstly, you'll get an idea of where your idea needs work very quickly. Listen to the questions people ask - there will probably be a few that you haven't thought of before. Why did they ask that? Do you know the answer?
Secondly, if you find yourself feeling just as excited to explain your idea to the fiftieth person as you were the first, then you're probably passionate enough to really go for it, because running your own business is a real lifestyle choice that takes determination and stamina.
Becoming an Enterprise Nation member would also be something I would absolutely recommend to anyone thinking of being an entrepreneur. StartUp Saturday is a great place to begin - I met loads of great contacts and it was packed with loads of really useful information, not to mention the enthusiasm and energy from the lovely Enterprise Nation team.
Aw, thank you! Is there anything the Enterprise Nation community can do to help you?
Well, we're looking for our first cohort of food producers who want a place on the High Street in central London. If you're a small food producer interested in growing your business alongside other businesses just like you, get in touch by visiting our website at www.pantryandparlour.org