Virgin StartUp & Intu hungry to find UK’s most innovative Foodpreneurs

Today Virgin StartUp and Intu announce their quest to find the next big ‘Foodpreneur’. The two companies have joined forces to launch a nationwide search to find the next up and coming superstars of the food produce world.

The competition, now open, sees Virgin and Intu combining their brands, knowledge and expertise and together they’re inviting entries from aspiring food entrepreneurs from across the UK.

From the entries received, eight semi-finalists will be awarded the opportunity to showcase their business in a customised pop up at one of Intu’s prime regional shopping centres and online at intu.co.uk for one week.

Four finalists will then pitch and present their business to a panel of top industry leaders with the final winner being chosen in September.

The Foodpreneur winner 2017 will get the unique opportunity to run their business, reaching an audience of millions, in one of Intu’s UK centres and online for six weeks and benefit from advice and support from both intu and Virgin Start Up.

The competition has been run by Virgin StartUp for the past two years and previous winners include Harry Brompton’s Iced Tea and Cauli Rice whose involvement saw them pitch to American retail giant, Target.

Mei Shui, Managing Director Virgin StartUp, said, “We have a proud history of supporting entrepreneurship across the Virgin Group. Business can be a force for good and more people need to be given the chance to shine. Previous Foodpreneur finalists have gone on to become brilliant entrepreneurs and I’d expect this year’s alumni will be no different.”

David Fischel, Intu Chief Executive, said, “With creativity being one of our core values, we have a history of spotting and introducing new ideas to the UK. We are delighted to work with an organisation such as Virgin StartUp to provide an opportunity to help up and coming entrepreneurs and find the next wave of new ideas.

'Bringing such exciting new brands into our centres provides yet another opportunity to bring a smile to the faces of our customers which can only help our retailers flourish.”

The two brands are recruiting the best of the best in the Foodpreneur world and are today announcing their first judge, Jimmy Cregan, who six years ago started his hugely successful Jimmy’s Iced Coffee brand. Jimmy shot to fame with a series of rap videos charting his story as a Foodpreneur and knows first hand what this year’s contestants will be going through, including what they’ll need to do to stand out.

Jimmy Cregan, Founder Jimmy’s Iced Coffee, said, “The dudes at Virgin StartUp have been amazing at helping businesses just like mine get a foot in the door. I know first hand how relentless and rewarding it can be to get your product stocked but the food and drink sector is super competitive right now.

'The Foodpreneur competition is a rad way for young businesses to break into the market, and being offered a pop-up space in a heaving shopping centre is exposure I could only have wished for when I launched”.

Virgin Group has a long history of supporting entrepreneurs and championing micro businesses. Across the Group they have a number of initiatives including their not-for-profit arm Virgin StartUp. Virgin StartUp supports entrepreneurs with access to funding, mentor support and business advice during their infancy years. So far the company has provided over 1,750 loans to the tune of nearly £19m.

Entrants must be aged 18 years and over with the right to work in the UK and can find out more about how to enter and the full terms and conditions at www.foodpreneur.virginstartup.org.