Since its launch in 2014, the IoD 99 has well established a four-digit community of engaging entrepreneurs, working independently and in collaboration, to make their start-up projects flourish.
Not only are entrepreneurs utilising the IoD’s network of prominent business leaders, but also finding value in the Information and Advice Service, worldwide premises, and particularly the 99’s own brand of networking and micro-pitches. One such example comes in the form of 99-er Tara Mei, founder of Kitchen Table Products and co-visionary behind Bread and Jam Festival.
Bread and Jam Festival launched in 2016 as the UK’s first food founders’ festival, with Tara and co-founder Jason looking to celebrate the industry’s entrepreneurial spirit, and help sway the 90% failure rate of emerging food and drink brands.
“There are new brands forming all the time,” says Tara. “But it can be incredibly confusing for new businesses coming into this established industry. It’s lonely and isolating when starting out on your own. So Bread and Jam Festival gives food and drink entrepreneurs the opportunity to grow their network, meet experienced individuals, and get access to opportunities that might otherwise take years to establish.”
Held at the IoD’s 116 Pall Mall headquarters in 2016, the festival returns again this year with an inspiring two-day roster of guest speakers, including Loyd Grossman, Bonnie Chung of Miso Tasty, renowned Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones of The Black Farmer, and Dan Germain from Innocent.
The theme of Bread and Jam 2017 is ‘collaboration’, a topic which rings true to the roots of this year’s festival. A few months ago Tara met fellow IoD 99-ers Damoy Robertson and Becky Tudor-Williams, the former through the exclusive IoD 99 member’s Facebook Group and the latter at the 99 Summer Party in June.
“I saw Tara’s post on the Facebook group, crying out for some help with sales for the festival,” explains Damoy. “I sent her a private message and from there we had a chat, I met her co-founder Jason and things progressed from there.
“I speak quite regularly with Tara and Jason. We collaborate and bounce ideas off each other, and for me it really embodies why I started my own company. Working with these guys has been a really great driving force in keeping doing what I’m doing.”
While other food festivals concentrate on product pushes and sales, Tara says that they were keen to have Bread and Jam Festival to be a place where people can be open about what they don’t know, and where they can build their own dream team. “So in keeping with that, it was very natural for Jason and I to look outwards for help with skills that we didn’t have,” says Tara.
“It’s made such a difference being able to bring different perspectives on board, because we’re all part of the 99, there’s already an element of trust. It’s been great to speak to people who already know the importance of collaboration, of working together, and to know that the network is there supporting you.
“Had this network not been there then we may have taken much longer to find each other and to be able to work effectively together.”
“It’s been productive having that already-established respect for each other when working together,” says brand sponsor and partnerships expert Becky. “We’ve met up a few times, we’ve spoken on the phone, keeping up communication and knowing that we’ve all got the same goal.”
Spread across Friday 6 and Saturday 7 October, the festival will host stalls from exhibiting start-up brands, as well as hold ‘shop-talk’ panel discussions, start-up studio workshops, growth labs, and product pitch opportunities with major names in the food and drink industry, including Tesco, Amazon, Ocado and Whole Foods. Find out more about collaborating at the Bread and Jam Festival here.
Learn more about the ever-expanding community of IoD 99 members here.