On the first weekend of October, 116 Pall Mall was taken over by the Bread & Jam Festival.
This unique event brought together food and drink start-ups to pitch to major retailers, take part in workshops and hear from well-known figures within the industry including Dan Germain, the founder of Innocent, and Loyd Grossman.
Tara Mei is a co-founder of Bread & Jam and a member of IoD 99. Here she explains how the Festival came into being and why 116 Pall Mall has provided the ideal venue for a two-day gathering of fledgling food and drink businesses…
Bread & Jam started as a festival for food founders, by food founders. My co-founder Jason and I wanted to bring together passionate food and drink entrepreneurs to collaborate, share ideas and learn from one another. It's unique because it's authentic, raw and real. We've both run food businesses before and being able to deeply understand our community has been really important.
The food and drink sector has long been ruled by the Goliath club and not only did we bring together an army of Davids, we also made their voices the ones that everyone wants to hear. The tides are shifting and it's fantastic to have played a part in that.
I was invited to the IoD by my accountant. The IoD 99 offered an opportunity to meet a wider network of people. After a while, you've done the rounds of the start-up groups and the entrepreneurial meet ups, which are an incredible place to start but aren't particularly diverse. The IoD99 is nationwide and has attracted a broad member base, which most groups don't have.
It was important for us to choose a venue that was professional and could comfortably handle the hundreds of entrepreneurs we were expecting. Over two days, we invited over 1000 food and drink entrepreneurs through the IoD doors and everything went very smoothly. As organisers, there are so many things you need to be thinking about on your big day - the last thing you want to worry about is the logistical nitty gritty when you're chatting to your VIPs. We felt very well taken care of and the events team were just as enthusiastic about making our event a success as we were.
This year ran much more smoothly than last year, partly because we were also more at ease and knew what to expect. We scaled things back in some areas, to allow our guests to network with each other, which was really important. Last year many people commented that there was too much content and they didn't have time to mingle, so we made sure that there was a dedicated lunch hour as part of the agenda.
We were guided by the events team, which was incredibly helpful. We were taken on a tour of 116, which was really helpful. It was easy to set up meetings to view the rooms and discuss what could be possible in them.
We arrived the day before to set up and we were at the venue two hours before doors opened on the first day. One of the benefits of the IoD was its central location, which was easy to get to. We were also pleased that the IoD could provide furniture, AV and a cleaning service so our tables were refreshed for the next day. It was great to be able to get on with entertaining our guests and focusing on our speakers while we knew that everything else would be taken care of.
We tried hard this year to enjoy the moment and the event itself. Last year everything flew by in such a haze that we didn't really have time to enjoy what we had achieved. As entrepreneurs, you see opportunity in everything and how we can make things even better. It's hard to turn that off because it's what drives us.
It's different to other venues because we got to know the events team well and we trusted them to deliver an excellent, professional service.
116 Pall Mall is a beautiful venue and it really lifted our event to the next level, but what was most important to us is the way that we were welcomed into the space and no request was too small. Every effort was made to make sure our guests were comfortable and that everything ran smoothly. What more could you ask for?
To find out more about Bread & Jam Festival go to breadandjamfest.com
Event space for hire at 116 Pall Mall
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