Monday, 19 September 2016

Food Exchange Birmingham by Enterprise Nation

There was an amazing collection of new food brands at Enterprise Nation's Food Exchange in Birmingham hoping to impress buyers from both Sainsburys and Selfridges.

Most of these brands were based on incredibly healthy recipes.

Natural flavours were to the fore and anything bad for you was on the naughty list: sugar-free, salt-free, preservative-free, gluten-free, are you free?
Image result for are you being served i'm free

Another dominating trend was the flavours and recipes from Africa and the Caribbean. When you consider all the supermarket space given to countries such as India, Italy and China it makes you realise how forgotten about these recipes are and the massive potential they have to wow everyone with new tastes.Give them some more space buyers!

Neema African Chilli Sauces
Neema specialise in spices based on recipes from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Founder Rose Yombo-Djema below got to pitch to the Selfridges buyer Adrian Boswell who approved of the packaging and the taste with some feedback that the bullet chilli sauce was maybe too hot.
Rose had the clever idea of pairing food with fashion by incorporating African fabrics into the design and branding. Amazing!
Credit: TastePioneers

Yvodne's Caribbean Treats
Rachel Yvodne Campbell is on a mission to show everyone the sweet side of the Caribbean. Her delicious recipes including flavours such as banana rum and guava aim to add to everyone's fondness for Caribbean staples such as jerk chicken and fried dumplings.
Feast on flavours such as pineapple and plantain.

J'Maker Caribbean Fusion Food and Drink
Co-founder Melanie Sampson may be an architect by day but she had no problem creating delicious gourmet flavours such as hibiscus infused drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic that stand out as a nice upmarket treat for the home and parties. 

Marvellous Mixes by Jems
One of the nicest treats I tasted at the exchange was the cookies below. Dark chocolate with orange flavour, simply lush! 

Jems Marvellous Mixes is inspired by cooking with her children and these cookie mixes aim to inspire both adults and children to whip up fab cookies in an instant.

 Seville Sauces
If you like your sauces traditionally flavoured, try beating Seville Sauce's family recipes dating back to 1890! With red and green chillies and peppers to the fore they have an intriguing new Spanish whisky sauce in the pipeline. Both the buyers from Sainsburys and Selfridges mentioned that you better not be a member of the one-trick pony club as they constantly want new flavours and products from your range to keep customers coming back for more.

Tyga Indian Meal Kits
With successful subscription companies such as Graze and Hello Fresh racking up huge sales it's good to see smaller businesses getting in on the action. Tyga post beautiful spice and paste blends to your home to make it easier to whip up delicious curry recipes.

Popcorn Shed
What's your flava? Tell me what's your flava? Is it salted caramel? Pecan pie? Rich chocolate? They all tasted dreamy to me. 'Kernel-in-Chiefs' Laura Jackson and Samuel Robert Feller hand-make gourmet popcorn with natural ingredients and top it off with indulgently textured toppings that mass brands simply can't compete with.

Nutty Cacao
Claire Dinan also got to pitch her brand to Selfridges and did a great job of it too. Claire's vision is to change the way people look at snacking so that you no longer have to choose between taste and health. This was a key point I picked up on amongst these food entrepreneurs, traditionally many healthy foods don't taste that yummy so they don't become a habit food. The next step in healthy eating is to get a taste to die for as well as the nutritional benefits. Not easy!
Claire's treats range from caramel slices to 'cheese-less' cheesecakes and donuts.

Key Point: You may have to knock your competition off the shelf to find a space.
Selfridges buyer Adrian Boswell made a crucial point that not only does your product have to be excellent to make it into his shelves it must also grow that category and not cannibalise sales from existing brands. In Nutty Cacao's case Claire needs to compete with and beat Livia's Kitchen to get listed in Selfridges. Claire stated that her wider range of flavours is her strategy to make this happen.

Cool Cold Brew Coffee
Joe Devereux Kelly gave an extremely well-polished pitch to the Selfridges buyer Adrian Boswell who said Joe's pitch and product impressed him the most. Joe's relaxed nature was key to clearly promoting his brand and listening to Adrian's feedback and countering any doubts about the brand's potential.

Key Point: Shelf Life!
Selfridges want 75% of the shelf life of your product from when it's produced to be on their shelves. So if your product has a 100 day shelf life Selfridges will want 75 days of that total. Cool Cold Brew Coffee are changing their packaging to Tetra Pak to dramatically increase the shelf life of their product from 6 weeks to 12 months. They are also taking the chance to further improve the branding and packaging too.

Matchola Granola 
You can't get any healthier than Matchola's winning granola, gluten-free, organic ingredients plus trendy Matcha green tea. Time to ditch Cornflakes!

Pure Treat
A daughter's love for her father and a desire to create treats that he could enjoy after being diagnosed as coeliac is the driving force behind Pure Treats. Choconut and date snacks to put a smile on your face.
Granny's Secret
Unique Balkan flavours and great branding makes Granny's Secrets a standout brand at #FoodEx. A focus on natural products such as ajvar pepper relish and artisan juices such as wild blueberry fruit juice brings a taste of the countryside to the big city.

Truly Simple Foods
I loved these sauces below for the instant punch of flavour they gave me. 
This full range is already stocked online at Holland & Barrett and they have a no nonsense attitude to keeping their products salt-free.
Their aim is help to support your dietary choices with truly simple natural products.

Incredible Bakery Company
Liven up your breadbasket with a red quinoa loaf, golden linseed loaf or even an onion and seeds loaf. 

Can I Buy You A Drink?
Lyco Life contains antioxidant Lycopene if you need to detox whilst Rejuvenation Water's ginger and lime drink wowed me with it's delicate tasty flavour.
No brand gave out more freebies than Aqua Carpatica!

Never leave a food exchange on an empty stomach

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Friday, 2 September 2016

How To Impress The Press

Meet the Journalists Event
BrumBizRadio Twitter

Five top journalists gave us top tips on how to maximise your chances of getting them to run a story about you or your company. The Enterprise Nation event at digital start-up specialists Innovation Birmingham focused on identifying the correct media to target, how to approach them with a relevant press release and how and when to send it.

The key is to approach the journalists when you have something that they (not you) think is newsworthy.

The plush new ICentrum building in Birmingham

Tom's Top Tips
Tom Whipple
Tom Whipple Twitter

Tom Whipple Science Editor of The Times
Tom stated that he is interested in stories that are related to his subject rather than your business success, contracts won or prizes etc. So your press release will need to have something exciting scientifically to catch his attention. A story he liked recently was about the train app that rail travellers use to tell each other how busy the train carriages are that they are travelling on. 

Tom's preference is for stories to be around 500 to 600 words long. He also likes statistics behind websites for example the Okcupid dating website had interesting stats about the average age gap in relationships and popular keywords used in member profiles.

Steve Dyson BQ Magazine
Steve Dyson
Steve Dyson Twitter

Steve likes to run a mixture of short stories and features in his Business Quarterly magazine and email newsletter. He prefers to focus on innovation and collaboration articles that look at the people behind the story and new jobs created.

Steve also curates a daily newsletter and loves long term quality articles. A good question to ask yourself about the quality of your press releases is:
Will my story still be relevant in 3/6 months?

Steve does not like jargon and unlike many journalists is happier to be contacted by phone rather than email. You can also contact him with updates, progress and results of your story.

Kurt Jacobs Midlands Business Insider
Image result for kurt jacobs insider
Insider West Midlands Twitter

Kurt, like most journalists is a very busy man and you better get to the point when you approach him. No small talk, no 'how is your day?' as you only have ten seconds to pitch your story. Kurt has a fondness for stories of small companies taking on the big boys and is more accommodating about stories dealing with figures, profit and loss amounts, investment expenditure etc.

Kurt's key questions about running a story are:

What is the utility of this article? 
What purpose does it serve my readers? 
How does it help them knowing this?

Richard Cockett, The Economist
Richard Cockett
Richard Cockett Twitter

Richard's key point was that as The Economist has two thirds of its readers from overseas your press release will need to have global relevance and interest. Richard travels often to visit sites to get real in-depth stories. He wants to know what makes you different?

3 tips to get Richard's attention

1) Trends: is your business involved in a new or developing trend?

2) Set-up: is your start-up arrangement new? How is what you are doing revolutionary?

3) Socio-political: does your story have relevance to larger political and social issues?

Duncan Tift, The Business
Duncan Tift
Duncan Tift Twitter

Duncan finds the social media platforms good for engagement but is also happy to be contacted by phone. He is more interested in your press release if you are creating jobs and is happy to meet you in person if it will improve the quality of the article. The Business Desk like to react quickly to stories with Duncan once publishing an article in 20 minutes after hearing from a source that a business was closing down. 

Press Release Tips

Provide information not marketing.
Ask yourself should your press release be factual and to the point or contain deeper analysis to make it more interesting?

Who is your audience?
Who do you want to see your press release?

No blanket emails.
Many journalists will spot emails that have 100s of recipients and treat that email as junk. You should personalise your email to the journalist and their area of expertise.

The right journalist at the right time with the right content.
Have you researched who is most suitable to publish your content? Do you know the magazine well? With Richard for example are you a long-term reader following a story with an insight to add to his story? Tom suggests to try and tie-in with a current news story or adding an expert opinion to an ongoing piece. This has potential to get you national coverage if your information links to a wider story.

Grab interest with your header: you have 2.4 seconds to impress.
Use 5 or 6 key words in the header that summarise a unique angle for the journalist. They want an original story. Kurt's tip was to write as if you were explaining something to a child. Simplify your pitch.

Tell your story in 6 paragraphs.
Make sure you personalise the main story to the magazine you are approaching.


Think laterally! If you are a florist for example, trends from your customers buying habits on Valentine's day can give insight into the nation's love life and mood. As Richard so insightfully pointed out: 
Image result for richard cockett economist
What you think is interesting about your business may be very different to what I think is interesting about your business!

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