Posted: Thu 16th Jul 2015
When we offered entrepreneurs the chance to win a Sainsbury's director as an adviser to their business we were inundated with replies.
James Bailey is buying director for packaged food at the retail giant and looks after a unit of the supermarket business that turns over Â£7bn a year which makes our exclusive offer an amazing opportunity.
James studied the applications and we are delighted to announce he has shortlisted the five businesses below.
All five will now pitch to James via live video. We will announce more details soon.
Congratulations to the five finalists and many thanks to everyone who applied.
Rosie Ginday, Miss Macaroon
A social enterprise selling delicious macaroons that provides employment for marginalised young people.
Our board meetings are in a venue equipped for video conferencing so the distance shouldn't be a problem
We have board meetings four times a year with one strategy day (low input with high impact)
We're really passionate about changing young people's lives through gaining the skills to become pastry chefs, baristas and food
Through your expertise you can help to grow our business, increase our impact and feel the satisfaction of diverting a young offender away from a life of crime
We pay in our delicious French macaroons and luxury hot chocolate
You can help us to realise our ambition of creating the UK's first nationwide French macaroon and luxury hot chocolate chain providing hundreds of jobs for marginalised young people
We currently have a fantastic board with individuals running SMEs in PR and marketing, recruitment, HR and finance and mentors from PwC and Barclays. We have a huge hole in retail expertise as we start building our social enterprise French macaroon shop empire and we would love you to be part of our exciting journey.
You should work with Miss Macaroon because you get to be responsible for amazing changes in people like Zee who said: "I heard about the Macaroons that Make A Difference course in the hostel I was staying at last year. I attended the course and I learnt a lot about pastry and about myself. The course helped me to make a lot of changes in my life and now I am in a positive environment. I worked really hard and I now have a job at Miss Macaroon. I still have a lot to learn but I am excited about my future."
Martijn Verbree, Localz
A technology startup that develops micro-location solutions for enterprise customers.
At Localz, we believe it would be a unique opportunity for both James Bailey and ourselves to work together.
On the one hand:
We basically use location technology to allow our clients to engage with their customers, based on where they are in the physical world. We are probably most famous for winning last year's John Lewis technology incubator JLAB.
On the back of this, we have seen tremendous interest and growth, both in Europe and oversees. We have signed production contracts with DPD and John Lewis, Woolworths and Homepepass in Australia and have another eight trials on the go at large retailers, telcos and financial services organisations.
With offices in Melbourne Australia, London and soon the US, we have 17 full time staff and are preparing for our next phase of growth, which includes a series A funding round towards the end of the year.
We believe James' experience in retail and at Barclays Capital will be invaluable to us and help us though our next stage of growth, especially in terms of coaching us on how to deal with large retailers and helping us getting ready for our series A round.
On the other hand:
Working with Localz will provide James with the opportunity to work with an international and experienced team that operates across the globe. Many of us have given up our corporate careers in financial services and Big Four consultancies to focus on running Localz. Working with us will provide James with a unique insight in some of the latest mobile and and retail technologies, but also in how the start-up landscape in the UK has been changing and how software and mobile are eating the world.
Cemal Ezel, Old Spike Roastery
A social enterprise providing freshly roasted coffee that employs homeless people.
We are one of only two social coffee roasters in the world.
We roast premium, speciality coffee and sell packaged bags to consumers via subscription, local retail shops, wholesale accounts and corporates.
The reason we are special is that we are fully not for profit and we provide jobs and housing for homeless people. All of our profits go back in to buying very expensive premium green coffee beans which we roast ourselves and sell to our customers.
We have just signed a partnership for three years with the Big Issue and we are opening coffee units around London. We have locations agreed with Transport for London, Network Rail, a London council, and the Church of England.
The Big Issue intend to take the brand into other cities around the UK. We currently are able to roast 600KG per week, which is a large amount of coffee. Further, due to our pending contracts we will exceed this volume and will need to look at expansion. Therefore, we desperately need help to expand the roasting side of the business and look at how we can stock our premium coffee into larger outlets, but also support from James to be able to advise us on how to grow the coffee units sustainably as well.
There is much more I can tell you, like we have had the deputy prime minister of Thailand visit us to try to replicate our business model in Thailand, and Google are looking to do a video campaign wirg one of our employees (Lucy) to show how we are using the Google Translate app to help her come out of homelessness.
We really need mentorship and guidance on how to expand and grow. We feel our social enterprise develops a fantastic product in it's own regard and exceeds the quality of coffee sold in large retail stores and matches the quality of coffee in the best speciality coffee roasters such as Workshop and Square Mile. We just now need the help to expand.
Laura Stephenson and Kate Harding, House of the Rising Bun
A retailer of of cake mixes and decorations.
When this came into my inbox, I almost fell off my chair. This opportunity was meant for us!
Things are getting exciting at House Of the Rising Bun, and as we start to create a product just for supermarkets, James's expertise is exactly what we need to help guide us through.
It was the introduction of our gluten and dairy free product that has bought us to the attention of the supermarkets. Above everything, our product tastes delicious. Not just good for a gluten free cake, but a stand alone great cake that people repeat buy. We feel there is a space in this category and we have the right product, the right brand and the right team to make ourselves a store cupboard staple and a household name.
Our vision, from the beginning, has always been to see our product sit on a supermarket shelf and now it is within reach this opportunity to have insider knowledge, to understand what consumers look for, and what the supermarkets will expect from us, would be just invaluable.
House Of The Rising Bun was started, by me [Laura], with a mission to rejuvenate the ready mix category. Whilst many convenience foods have been updated to reflect our love of good food and ingredients, we felt the same wasn't true of the baking mixes. We wanted to bring a foolproof, home baked cake that could be made up quickly.We have been trading for three years and have great relationships in the gift market. We are stocked in John Lewis, Harvey Nichols, Debenhams, Jamie Oliver, Garden Centre Group etc.
I can honestly say that we have learnt about how the food industry works, the hard way! For James to be a non executive director for us would make all the hard work worthwhile.
Laura Brown, Canesmith& Co
A gourmet sweets brand.
We think there's a massive opportunity to bring sweets up to date and make them a properly premium product like chocolate, ice cream and popcorn.
Aside from marshmallows this hasn't really happened in sugar confectionery. We're here to change all that.
The business would benefit hugely from James' knowledge of the food industry, to guide it as we make strategic decisions about how to grow. Laura, our founder, has left a successful career in the City to pursue her love of food and whilst the fundamental principles of business are the same, there is a great deal we've yet to learn about the food industry.
Canesmith & Co is having some early successes, launching in Selfridges in July and being approached by buyers, but we are keen to maintain this momentum and eventually approach supermarkets and other large retailers. James' experience in supermarket buying (particularly in the impulse category) would dramatically improve our chances of success in these channels.
We are really early stage, so for James it's an opportunity to get in right at the beginning and be part of a business with ambitions to completely change a category. Green & Blacks, Ella's Kitchen, Kettle Crisps; all these companies have transformed their categories. We hope to do the same.
Canesmith & Co is doing something different in sugar confectionery, and we feel there is nothing quite like us in the market today. It would be great to have someone like James believing in that vision too.
We're taking sweets in a new direction, creating modern candy and trying not to eat it all.