meet the experts

We handpick our industry experts for their knowledge, expertise and commitment to supporting startups and new entrepreneurs. They range from branding and design agencies, successful food entrepreneurs, PR agencies, sales experts, distributors and small business investors but they have one thing in common: these amazing industry experts are passionate about helping you grow your business. Click on the images bellow or scroll down for more information about them, what they do and where you can find them.

Philip Banfield is the founder & MD of VentureField, a boutique commercial growth consultancy that specialises in helping new consumer goods startups & established businesses step-change their commercial performance. Over the past eight years, Philip has successfully advised many founders, management teams & investors to grow their brands in the retail, online and food service channels, including Burtons Biscuits, CafePod, Up&Go, Rebel Kitchen, Plenish and Barclays. 

 
 

Philip'S TOP TIP

"Resilience, Resilience, Resilience. Decide on your business values and how you want to do business at an early stage and live these. Stay Focused."

CATCH philip AT SPEED MENTORING AND FOOD BUSINESS BOOTCAMP DAY

Alison Battisby founded Avocado Social, having worked in the social media marketing industry since 2008. Alison has been involved in some groundbreaking social media projects for brands including Tesco, Brita and Pringles as well as a range of UK start-ups and growing enterprises. She is a regular speaker for Enterprise Nation, and has plenty of experience training top UK brands including BBC, Etsy and Debenhams.

 
 

ALISON'S TOP TIP

"Share everything exciting happening within your business through social media to start telling your brand story. This is a great way of building an engaged audience from day 1, who will be willing to share useful feedback and spread the word on your behalf."

CATCH ALISON AT SPEED MENTORING AND FOOD BUSINESS BOOTCAMP DAY

Marcus began his career working in the agricultural sector before joining his family business Patchwork Pate, where he worked on both national and international sales. Marcus' dream for many years was to help small independent food companies have a voice in the industry. To achieve this, he created the Artisan Food Club, a distribution company focused on helping producers who are just starting out break into the industry.

 
 

MARCUS' TOP TIP

"Plan your sales company, who is doing what in sales and a strong launch program into shops- not just your launch party... Then spend some time getting your product ready to keep your sales company busy after launch."

CATCH MARCUS AT SPEED MENTORING AND FOOD BUSINESS BOOTCAMP DAY

Nick started his first company in 2010, Medical Supermarket, designed to help GP surgeries save money on everything they buy. Five years on, they have won a number of industry awards, employ 17 staff and turnover £4m. In 2014, Nick founded Snaffling Pig; makers of big, bold flavoured pork crackling. He also supports young entrepreneurs grow their own companies as he believes that it's important that we encourage young people to embrace their creativity.

 
 

NICK's top tip

"The only way your start-up will survive is through innovation. You must offer something new that your customers haven't seen before. This innovation can be either flavours or formats/ingredients, wrapped up with an exciting and engaging brand. Make sure your product fits in with the trends in the marketplace as this will make it easy for trade buyers to say 'yes' and list your product."

Catch Nick at Speed Mentoring

After an early career in banking, Jennifer qualified as an accountant and spent 20 years as a Finance Director in three entrepreneurial businesses. During that time, Jennifer became interested in the way that technology was changing the accounting profession. She thought that growing businesses needed much stronger support from their accounting practice, so she left the corporate world to set up her own accounting firm Finling Associates.

 
 

Jennifer's top tip

"Make sure you have a plan for your business that you have written down - and set up a proper financial forecast as well!"

CATCH Jennifer AT SPEED MENTORING AND FOOD BUSINESS BOOTCAMP DAY

Before founding PR & Communications agency Monkhouse Food & Drink, Clare worked with brands such as Merrydown Cider, Unilever, Diet Coke and Group Chez Gerard Restaurants. She combines a real love of ‘proper’ food and drink and their producers, with a life long understanding of business development and marketing in this sector. The approach to brand communications at Monkhouse is practical, ‘non flowery’ and individual to each client. They work with start-ups and evolving businesses looking to grow and develop new opportunities. 

 
 

Clare'S TOP TIP

"Do it properly. Ensure that there is interest in your product before embarking on great expenditure. Listen to others and take advice but also listen to yourself! Be passionate but you also have to make the business work. It is competitive - so you must be well prepared. Network and meet people in the industry - it is a friendly industry and people like to help. Remember that you need budget to tell people what you do - often PR/ marketing is left off the list at the outset. Enjoy it!!!"

CATCH Clare AT SPEED MENTORING AND FOOD BUSINESS BOOTCAMP DAY

White Bear Studio is an insatiably curious branding agency based in London Fields. Of course they can create logos, websites, packaging, marketing collateral and more but what drives them is your business and what makes it tick. They are hugely adaptable and can help you speak to your audience in a voice they can relate to by creating branding bespoke for you.

 
 

White Bear Studio's top tip

"Be authentic, trying to be something you're not you will get caught out!"

CATCH white bear studio AT SPEED MENTORING and Food business bootcamp day

Jason Gibb left a 9 year career as a Hollywood TV producer to go and restore an abandoned olive grove in Le Marche Italy and found his own olive oil business, Nudo. He quickly learnt how tough it is to make money retailing olive oil and decided instead to start a program where customers could adopt an olive tree and in turn receive the spoils of their tree’s labour. Since selling the business in 2014, Jason has been working on various food projects including Foodpreneur Forum, a Facebook community called the FoodHub, and an app for supplying restaurants with artisan foods.

 
 

Jason'S TOP TIP

"As Seth Godin says ‘marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but the story you tell’."

CATCH Jason AT SPEED MENTORING

Alicia Grimshaw is the Deputy Editor at About Time Magazine, an online publication that explores everything it's about time you tried in London and beyond. You'll find her either eating, thinking about what she's going to have for her next meal or writing about food.

 
 

ALIcia'S TOP TIP

"Be active on social media. Get your brand out there as much as possible. Work on your Instagram and twitter - social media is crucial for your brand."

CATCH ALIcia AT SPEED MENTORING

Jayne began her working life as a creative at M&S food, before migrating to various London agencies. In 2008, she founded The Collaborators, a  design agency specialising in food and drink. In the past, she's worked with household brands such as Percy Pig, Lurpak Spreadable, Hovis Best of Both, Mars Celebrations, Quaker Oats So Simple & Magnum. Jayne now concentrates her efforts on helping start ups and fledging food brands. She is the founder and chief exec of The Seed Fund - a philanthropic project that runs an annual competition to find the next up and coming food producers. Past winners include Bird and Wild, Let Them Eat & Yuyo (ex Tea Tonics).

 
 

Jayne's top tip

"Trust yourself to follow your convictions, but keep an open mind and listen hard. Don't overthink anything, it's better to make mistakes by doing too much, than do nothing at all."

CATCH jayne AT SPEED MENTORING AND FOOD BUSINESS BOOTCAMP DAY

Jackie Marshall founded Maximising Marketing to help food and drink companies achieve the distribution they desire.  She has over two decades experience devising successful marketing strategies for food and drink brands such as Petits Filous, Frubes, Lindt Gold Bunny, Babybel, New Covent Garden Soup, Tyrell’s Crisps, Tracklement’s chutneys and Gale’s Honey. Jackie enjoys working with ambitious food and drink businesses of all sizes and is particularly enthusiastic about the current dynamic and exciting food scene which is opening up a whole new era of opportunities. 

 
 

Jackie's top tip

"Be prepared to listen with an open mind to different perspectives and then make the decision you feel is right for you. Be really clear and confident on why you are starting your venture and keep this strongly held belief close to you when times are tough as it will help you through. Enjoy your journey and take time to celebrate the successes along the way."

CATCH jackie AT SPEED MENTORING

Charlie is a qualified Nutritionist with over 15 years’ experience with leading UK retailers such as Sainsbury’s. After many years of working in the industry she has gained a practical, commercial and balanced approach to nutrition, and a real love of food. She is adept in the practical application of complex nutrition science and legislation to product development and communications. Charlie now runs her own nutrition consultancy working with some well-established brands as well as small start-ups, helping develop nutrition strategy through to recipe analysis and quotes for media. 

 
 

CHARLIE'S TOP TIP

"If you are developing a healthier product, first and foremost make sure it tastes amazing, no one really wants to compromise on taste for health! If your product proposition is based on a nutrition or health, make sure you can legally say what you want to about your product before you get too far down the product development track. Make sure you packaging and marketing are compliant with legislation so you don't compromise your integrity and your finances!"

CATCH CHARLIE AT SPEED MENTORING AND FOOD BUSINESS BOOTCAMP DAY

Vhari is a life-long foodie and renowned networking whirlwind. As founder of the Food Marketing Expert, Vhari has helped many food businesses grow including Rebel Kitchen, Simply Good Food TV, The Foraging Fox and Scarlett & Mustard. She is also the co-founder of Grub Club Cambridge, a networking group for food businesses. Vhari is obsessed with helping producers get their products on retailers’ shelves and getting the sales, profile and coverage they deserve.

 
 

VHARI'S TOP TIP

"No one is going to sell your product unless you do. Be proud of it and shout about it."

CATCH VHARI AT SPEED MENTORING AND FOOD BUSINESS BOOTCAMP DAY

Tessa worked with innocent drinks on the launch of their kids’ range, and got addicted to working with food brands. She thought there had to be a better, faster and cheaper way to get customer feedback. So she went into shops, stood by the shelves and asked shoppers what products they noticed and bought. Tessa has worked with clients like Firefly Tonics, Rude Health, Peters Yard Crispbreads, MOMA! Foods, Peppersmith, Yorkshire Provender, and Collective Dairy. 

 
 

TESSA'S TOP TIP

"This is one of innocent's tips - I'm sharing it with you: Show your food product to a granny. If they understand it, you're there! If they don't, start over! Keep your message simple. Find a clever phrase to explain your product - like Breckland Orchard's 'posh pop', so people can quickly understand what you are about."

CATCH TESSA AT SPEED MENTORING AND FOOD BUSINESS BOOTCAMP DAY

Hugh Thomas is the co-founder and head of marketing at Ugly Drinks, an unsweetened sparkling water brand. He previously worked as Senior Brand Manager for Vita Coco Coconut Water in the UK and also spent time at Heinz Beanz and Heinz Ketchup. Hugh is passionate about food and drink and loves seeing challenger brands trying to take on sleepy categories.

 
 

HUGH'S TOP TIP

"You need to work out how you're going to stand out from the crowd. Every touch point is an opportunity to do this and everything communicates.."

CATCH HUGH AT SPEED MENTORING AND FOOD BUSINESS BOOTCAMP DAY