Judging at the Future Food Awards

I’m delighted to be judging at the Future Food Awards this year.

The Future Food Awards are here to celebrate the new brands and innovations revolutionising the food and drink industry. Brought to you by Speciality Food Magazine and The FoodTalk Show, they're giving the most exciting businesses of today a step towards success, international recognition and money-can't-buy contact with some of food and drink's most revered experts.

There are nine categories to enter, including Young Producer and Drink Innovation and entries are open until midnight on 30th June 2019.

See the details on the website here: https://www.futurefoodawards.com/

AXA Growth Leaders: The Future of Leadership

Business leaders face unprecedented challenges that require a new mindset. More than ever, leaders need a growth mindset to navigate today’s talent landscape and the rapid pace of change. Tomorrow’s leaders must be more entrepreneurial and ambitious, looking to new horizons while seeking new routes to success.

In this video The Supper Club and AXA PPP healthcare brought together successful entrepreneurs and leading thinkers to share insight on how to lead with a growth mindset and build high performing teams as part of ‘The AXA Growth Leaders Series’. They discuss:

1. Why people's abilities are malleable

2. Why you need to increase your emotional intelligence

3. Why you should address mental health for you and your team

4. Why you need to be authentic and purpose driven

You will hear from: Eduardo Briceño, Co-Founder & CEO, Mindset Works Dr Mark Winwood, Director of Psychological Services for AXA PPP Healthcare Adam Ludwin, Chief Visionary Officer, Captify Tom Bradshaw, Private Banker for Entrepreneurs at Investec Charlie Walker, Founder, Harmonic Finance John Stapleton, Co-Founder, New Covent Garden Soup Company and Little Dish

You can see the highlights from the event here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=11&v=QvbGhXuk8qM

Can Startups Really Benefit From Having a Mentor? - Fleximize Coverage

Can Startups Really Benefit From Having a Mentor?

Startups often struggle to find tailored guidance on navigating business growth. John Stapleton, co-founder of three FMCG businesses, shares his thoughts on the value a mentor can add to a startup.


The road to building a successful startup is not always a smooth one. There are a lot of things to get right - strategy, budget and competition to name just a few. This can lead to many budding entrepreneurs forgetting one of the most crucial influences that they need to drive success: a mentor.

In entrepreneurial life it is inevitable to feel as though you are swimming against the tide. There is a lot of excitement that comes with the freedom of making things up as you go along, however, having a sounding-board can help reduce some of the chaos. Navigating a new and unknown landscape can be simpler if you have the guidance of a mentor.

Drawing from my own experience, I didn’t have a support network to assist me in weighing up the pros and cons of available options when my first business began to grow at a rapid pace. Armed with hindsight, I believe a good mentor is a great source of proactive support to any entrepreneur in a startup environment. 

What makes a good mentor?

There are several aspects that define a good mentor: 

  • A good mentor should be a non-executive and maintain an arm's length relationship with the business. 

  • It is vital that they know the industry well and understand the challenges that the business faces. 

  • A mentor should also help build on the strengths of the business, while offering a wealth of knowledge that comes from their own personal experience.

  • They should be able to do all of this while maintaining a refreshing and energetic passion for developing the entrepreneur and the key players in the team.

How can mentors add value to a business?

A mentor should be in a position to pre-empt problems or obstacles that lie ahead, whilst ensuring that hidden opportunities are recognized and seized. A great mentor will also offer the ultimate startup tool - a ‘Little Black Book’ of contacts which can open doors that many entrepreneurs are unable to leverage themselves.

When mentoring entrepreneurs, I ensure that I offer as much insight and advice as possible for them to be successful by supporting them to make their own decisions – not by making the decisions for them. This can sometimes include speaking to customers of the businesses to gather their opinions before feeding back to the executive team.

This external information enables me to provide the tools and guidance needed to form the strong foundations of a mentor-mentee relationship. It is important to strike the right balance but, once fine-tuned, it can accelerate the growth of a startup and help a business become more competitive.

How do I choose the right mentor for my business?

There are several factors to consider when seeking a mentor, each as integral as the next. Direct entrepreneurial experience and knowledge of implementing a 'disruption strategy' are vital characteristics of a startup mentor. 

Crucially, an entrepreneur should not seek a mentor until they have taken the time to consider what both they and their business hope to achieve from the relationship. The entrepreneur should also consider what style of guidance or providing advice is best suited to them. 

There is quite a significant difference between engaging a mentor and engaging a coach, as both serve different purposes. A coach will use methodologies to coax answers to problems, whereas a mentor will draw from his or her own experiences and provide advice based how they have tackled similar situations. Bear this in mind when deciding what would best suit your business needs and style of work. 

Boundaries and milestones

Once a mentor has been appointed, a critical first step is mutually establishing goals, frequency of input required and relevant deadlines. This framework will not only set milestones, but it will help the mentor and mentee realize what success looks like to both of them. Rules of engagement, such as meeting frequencies and levels of involvement, also need to be addressed up front.

The most important element of a mentor/mentee relationship is for the mentee to take the driving seat. An entrepreneur works with a mentor because they have mutually recognized the business has the potential to benefit from the mentor’s insight. Therefore the mentee needs to take charge of the relationship to ensure that they can deliver the optimum outcome by working together.

I have found that meeting outside of the business environment or the company setting is the most efficient way to elevate productivity. Avoiding inevitable distractions from the business often allows the entrepreneur to think clearly and laterally to recognize what is actually occurring within the business. The best business decisions are often the most considered and there is no better way to move a business towards success than to involve someone who has been there before.