This summer, Kitchen Table Projects are launching their incubator programme, School of Food in Old Street Station. The program’s goal is to provide help and support to emerging artisan food producers who want to kick start their business. We talked to the founder, Tara Sundramoorthi, to find out more about her own food journey and what it takes to launch a successful food business.
When did your obsession with food begin?
I think I've always been obsessed with food in some way or another. I love the combination of creativity, precision and high pressure - and how versatile food can be. It plays with our emotions and is at the centre of everything that we do.
What prompted you to launch Kitchen Table Projects?
There is nothing like it out there for food businesses at the moment - and I do think that we can achieve more by working together than going at it alone. I discovered this when I ran my own coffee shop for a while with friends. It gave me the idea and I have never looked back.
Tell us more about School of Food programme. What's the main idea and goal?
The main idea is to give artisan food producers a chance to test the market, and achieve customer feedback to help them grow their business in an affordable and manageable way. This comes with the help of industry experts who can save them a lot of time money and stress. Our goal is to give artisan food producers a platform to kick start their plans to grow their business and take it to where they want it to go - by understanding what happens to their products when they're on the retail shelf.
Why do you think the food industry needs this type of idea?
The food industry needs to be shaken up by something new and innovative. Despite being a very quick moving industry, there are some things that haven't really changed much in decades. Incubators are really common in tech, but what about all the other start ups out there? People still don't really know what happens to their products on the retail shelf. If they don't know who is and isn't picking up their creation, how can they create products that people really want? There are so many incredible foods and drinks that are just waiting to be discovered - they just need to be given a chance to shine.
Why did you chose Old Street Station for this programme?
Old Street Station is a great location for our project - it is right in the heart of London's start-up scene. It has lots of footfall from commuters and shoppers - so we know that people will get really good feedback that they can use when they approach buyers as proof of concept. It is also a foodie location, people love trying new things and aren't afraid to have a go. This is great for products that are really innovative.
What are you looking for in your applicants?
We want people who are passionate about food and drink - and who want to collaborate to achieve their aspirations. And of course we also want those who have potentially already started their business with an amazing product, who want to scale up their enterprise and realise their dreams.
What qualities do you think a successful foodpreneur needs to have?
First and foremost - resilience. There are going to be lots of people who will turn you down or who don't get your idea. Also creativity - it is a fast moving market and consumers today are overwhelmed by choice. And of course a perfectionist. Everyone eats and everyone has an opinion about food - so 'foodpreneurs' need to have incredibly high standards..
What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to someone looking to launch their own food business?
Be yourself and love yourself - and your product. If you know what you want, it's so much easier to go out and get it.
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Absolutely my mother's fried rice! I can eat bowls and bowls of it and still have room for more. It's the ultimate comfort food. I keep telling her she needs to start a supper club!
Learn more about Kitchen Table Projects and their programme: http://kitchentableprojects.com