2018 was a huge year for the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards with 3,000 entries. And a big chunk of those came from the food & drink industry. From mouth-watering burgers, to silky craft ales and fiery street food; show-stopping noodles to ethical juices and eco-conscious confectionaries, the entries were incredible, so, they decided to give it its own category in 2019.
With that in mind, here are 20 of the most exciting food and drink entrepreneurs that are taking the nation’s taste-buds by storm.
Logan Plant – Beavertown Brewery
Not only does Beavertown Brewery stand out from a growing craft beer market with its bold cartoon branding and dedication to big flavours, its founder Logan Plant is the son of Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant, adding that extra bit of rock’n’roll to the brand. It has even caught the attention of Heineken, which invested an estimated £40 million in 2018, allowing Beavertown to build a brand new brewery and visitor site.
Jamie Laing & Ed Williams – Candy Kittens
Started in 2012 by Made in Chelsea star Jamie Laing and co-founder Ed Williams, Candy Kittens bridges the gap between the cartoon-clad sweets aimed at children and dull, lifeless boiled sweets you ‘often find in your grandparents’ car’. The gourmet sweet range is stocked in Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Waitrose, Topshop and Ocado, and the pair launched a gelatine-free range in 2018.
Chika Russell – CHIKA’S
Having immersed herself in African flavours during long summers in Nigeria, Chika Russell returned to the UK to launch her namesake brand of snacks. On a mission to bring ‘Iyanu’ – Nigerian for ‘amazing’ – to the world, CHIKA’S exotic flavours bring something new and exciting to a crowded snack market.
James Fisher & Ed Buston – Clifton Coffee Roasters
Having started as a maintenance service for espresso machines in the Bristol area, James Fisher saw the demand for great quality coffee soar. A few years later, and joined by Ed Buston, the pair created Clifton Coffee Roasters to create the world’s finest speciality coffees. Combining a flair for great taste, years of experience supplying and servicing equipment and providing barista training makes Clifton Coffee Roasters a unique business in the industry.
Alex Wright & Jack Scott – Dash Water
Alex Wright and Jack Scott are passionate about getting people to drink more water. Backed by YouTube star Caspar Lee, they created Dash Water to bring sparkling water to the mass market in an exciting but sustainable way. Calorie-free, natural flavours, wonky fruit and not a plastic bottle in sight, Alex and Jack have brought something new and fresh to the drinks industry.
Ed Smith & Richard Wilkinson – Doisy & Dam
With Doisy & Dam Chocolate, Ed Smith and Richard Wilkinson are creating quality and ‘superdelish’ chocolate that is as kind to your body as it is to the world. Not only does Doisy & Dam chocolate contain 8% superfoods and high cocoa content, removing the need for fat and sugar, the company is just one of 128 B Corp certified businesses in the UK. That means it gives more than it takes away, promising to do no harm to people or places in its operations.
Charlotte Dauzat & Kim Lamza – GATO & Co
Through GATO & Co, Charlotte Dauzat and Kim Lamza are bringing healthy and natural ingredients to an industry so commonly associated with ultimate indulgence. Their delicious, free-from range of French-inspired puddings allow people to treat themselves without the guilt. Stockists include Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, Whole Foods Market, Sainsbury’s and Ocado.
Martyn Gray – Nairn’s Oatcakes
First created by John and Sarah Nairn in Lanarkshire in 1896, Martyn Gray is now leading Nairn’s Oatcakes in cementing its place as one of the leading gluten-free snacks ranges. Changes in eating habits mean what was once a humble oatcake is now considered a ‘superfood’. Using only natural ingredients, Nairn’s Oatcakes can be found in gym bags, school bags, work bags and desk draws in countries as far away as Dubai and New Zealand.
Jim & Suzie Gregan – Jimmy’s Iced Coffee
After discovering iced coffee on a trip to Australia, Jim Gregan was dismayed when he couldn’t find any in the UK. So he went straight to his sister who owned a cafe and they set up Jimmy’s Iced Coffee. Jimmy’s, which contains only ethically sourced coffee beans and reduced sugar, is now stocked in all major retailers across the UK and works with the Rainforest Alliance to improve sustainability in farming.
Olivia Wollenberg – Livia’s Kitchen
Neuroscientist turned entrepreneur, Olivia Wollenberg is the founder of Livia’s Kitchen, a range of free-from chocolate snacks stocked by Selfridges, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, WHSmith, Boots and Tesco. Livia’s Kitchen started after Olivia was diagnosed with sugar intolerances and struggling to find sweet treats she could have on a FODMAP diet. Olivia has expanded the brand with a thriving online blog and recipe book.
Nish Katona – Mowgli Street Food
After a 20 year career as a barrister, Nish Katona quit to start Mowgli in 2014 to fulfil her ‘nagging obsession’ for the kind of authentic food she would eat at home in India and on the streets. Within a year, Mowgli already had two locations in Manchester and Liverpool and was named on the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 list by 2018. And in 2019, Nish received an MBE for services to the food industry.
Damien Lee – Mr Lee’s Noodles
Damien Lee knew that eating his favourite instant-noodles, which were full of junk, wouldn’t help his battle to fight cancer. Despite being given two weeks to live, when he got the all clear Damien created Mr Lee’s Noodles, a range of fresh noodles free from gluten, MSG, hydrogenated fats and all other ‘nasties’, to encourage time-poor people to eat better and help their recovery.
Claire Harper – Muscle Moose
As founder of Muscle Moose, Claire Harper is one of very few female founders in sports nutrition, tackling expectations in a male-dominated industry. Muscle Moose stands out from the crowd in other ways too, with unique products and flavours you might not expect to see from a range of protein-fortified items, and branding and style completely different from the industry norm.
Linus Gorpe – The Raw Chocolate Company
Having started a raw food diet himself, and realising the fabulous flavours available, Linus Gorpe began to experiment with raw foods to see what was possible. Experiments with raw cocoa produced some disasters but eventually produced something amazing that friends and family ‘went wild for’. Vegan-friendly, and barely processed with minimal added ingredients, The Raw Chocolate Company is winning awards left, right and centre.
Luke Johnstone & Alex Stewart – Pack’d
Luke Johnstone and Alex Stewart are the founders of PACK’D, the world’s first frozen smoothie kits, which contain only natural, whole ingredients and superfoods. Launching in 2014, Luke and Alex were frustrated by the number of sugar flavoured water drinks masquerading as healthy smoothies and tackled the industry head-on, with stockists including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Ocado, Amazon, Costco and more.
Tim Westwell & Sebastian Pole – Pukka Herbs
Pukka is a well-known brand in the speciality tea industry, and continues to grow as does the popularity of speciality teas. As founders, Tim Westwell and Sebastian Pole care about sustainability and the positive impact the company has on the world as much as the quality of its products. Pukka’s expansive range of flavours use the highest quality organic herbs and natural oils sourced from over 50 countries around the world.
Andrew Howie & Jodie Farran – Shaken Udder Milkshakes
After craving a fresh, vibrant milkshake whilst at V Festival, Andrew Howie teamed up with friend Jodie Farran to launch Shaken Udder. They started out selling at music festivals to offer a refreshing alternative, but have achieved huge growth in recent years, shifting their focus to supermarkets and retailers such as Harvey Nichols, WH Smith and Boots.
Nick Coleman – Snaffling Pig
There are many paths to entrepreneurship and launching a business, but not many happen as a result of a bet. Nick Coleman already owned a medical supplies company, but he and his co-founder challenged themselves to launch a side-company with £500 and see who could do better. Snaffling Pig was born and Nick hasn’t looked back. It’s an award-winning range of pork-based snacks that has launched its own uncooked meat ranges and is even opening its own restaurant.
Louise Cheadle & Nick Kilby – Teapigs
Self-confessed tea addicts, Louise Cheadle and Nick Kilby are on a mission to get tea lovers everywhere drinking real tea, made with only whole ingredients, rather than the ‘dust’ you find in most teabags. Racking up 90 Great Taste Awards since launching in 2006, Teapigs is now sold in over 35 countries around the world.
Tara Adlestone – MISSFITS
Tara Adlestone is the founder of MISSFITS, a range of natural protein products targeted at women. Launched in 2016, Tara and her team hated what they saw in a confusing and male-dominated industry. Not created by or aimed at bodybuilders and gym junkies, MISSFITS provides everyday protein products for women to help them stay on top of their game, whether they’re working out or working late.
Entries for the 2019 NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards are now open.