Three Virgin StartUp Foodpreneur winners enter the US market

Find out how the retail winners of the Virgin StartUp Foodpreneur Festival got on pitching to US retail giant Target Corporation.

One of the biggest hurdles many new food start-ups to face is getting their products into large supermarket chains. It’s tough enough to secure a meeting with a buyer in the first place, let alone impressing them enough with your pitch and product to win a contract.

So the retail category prize in last year’s Virgin StartUp Foodpreneur festival was priceless – the five winners were given the opportunity to fly over to the US and pitch to the retail giant Target Corporation.

The full prize included an all expenses trip to the US with Virgin Atlantic, where they received training and mentoring sessions with the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and Paul Lindley, founder of Ella’s Kitchen, before pitching to buyers at Target Corporation’s HQ in Minneapolis.

Three winners are starting a six month US trial

Three winners successfully secured contracts and are now finalising the logistics of a six month product trial at Target’s stores. If they’re successful, their products will be rolled out to all 2,000 stores across the US.

The three winners are Cauli Rice, Double Dutch Drinks and Harry Brompton’s London Ice Tea:

  • Founded by Gem Misa, Cauli Rice is the only long-life, ready to heat version of the global health food phenomenon ‘cauliflower rice’.
  • Double Dutch was started by twins Raissa and Joyce de Haas. It offers an innovative range of premium soft drinks that are specifically developed to compliment higher quality gins, vodkas and tequilas.
  • Created by Ian O’Donohue, Harry Brompton’s London Ice Tea ,is the world’s first premium alcoholic Ice Tea.

With the support of Virgin Start-Up and UKTI, Target is now working with the entrepreneurs on the details of the importing process. They hope to have their products on their shelves by next summer.

The winners delivered impressive pitches

Target’s category buyer Matt Becker was very impressed by the standard of the pitches:

“It’s been great to work with Virgin and UKTI on the Foodpreneur project. We were extremely impressed by the detailed support provided to the British entrepreneurs. The four businesses we met were some of the most prepared pitches from the UK we’ve seen so far and we were extremely impressed by the quality and character of the brands who flew over to meet us.”

Someone who knows just how tough it is to pitch to buyers is Paul Lindley Founder of Ella’s Kitchen and Paddy’s Bathroom. So he was delighted not just to share his experience and advice with the winners, but to see them succeed:

“The US market can be a holy grail to British brands looking to expand internationally. I’ve had my fair share of pitching to buyers over the years so it’s great to be able to introduce fellow entrepreneurs to important contacts and impart some of that wisdom. All three winners delivered particularly impressive pitches to Target and now deservedly have a fantastic opportunity in America.”

And finally, Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder, was pleased the competition had been such a success:

“It’s good to see the ‘Made in Britain’ brand is as strong as ever abroad and this is further proof it still carries a lot of weight in the USA.

I’m delighted for Cauli Rice, Harry Brompton’s Iced Tea and Double Dutch – and pleased Virgin StartUp has helped provide the platform to launch their products to an international market. I’m sure their journey will be an exciting one.”

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