Judging Panels

Bread and Jam Festival 2019

It’s already been a week since the end of Bread & Jam Festival 2019 and the positive vibes and ripples keep on coming. I’ve been inundated with follow up and messages from people I met – both old friends and new acquaintances.

This is the fourth year of the 2-day October event at the IoD and this year I really felt Jason @Visit_Planet_J and Tara surpassed themselves. The event is targeted at early stage start-ups in the food & drink industry – many are pre-revenue or very early concept stage. I find it an infectiously positive environment and love to be immersed in the excitement of this phase of Entrepreneurship. You’d probably better ask the young brands how they felt the event met their individual needs, but I for one, had a blast!

I’ve always been involved one way or another with #BreadandJamFest but this year I got really stuck in. I was part of three different events throughout Day 1 and thoroughly enjoyed them all.

First up was what Jason calls POD - Point of Difference. It’s sort of speed dating for branding! New brands have 10 mins to ask a panel of industry insiders questions about their positioning, messaging, points of difference and, ultimately, their brand. In my two-hour slot I met a wide range of pretty cool brands – most of whom had a pretty good grasp of who their target audience is (which is not always the case!). Hopefully, at least some left with a few ideas how to communicate with these audiences effectively.

Then came a panel discussion on "preparing yourself for investment". This was great fun. I hosted the panel, which was a relaxed exchange of views of what you need to do to do to get your ducks in a row before raising early-stage investment. We had a full hall and the topic seemed to go down well. Many of the follow-up enquiries I’ve had since were related to this discussion. I was joined on stage by Kara Rosen (founder of Plenish), Philippa Sturt (partner at Joelson) & Edward Carstairs GJE) and had a good old ding-dong!

 In the afternoon I sat on the judging panel for the #FutureFoodAwards 2019. This is the brainwave of  @SpecialityFood and @TheFoodTalkShow who set out to celebrate the new brands and innovations revolutionising the food and drink industry at the moment. I thoroughly enjoyed the 3 min pitches from each of the 9 category winners vying for the title of “Supreme Champion”. In the end, all of us judges were pretty convinced that this accolade should go to @get_nourished. They marry 3D printing technology (which can combine 27 different active ingredients) with personalised nutritional snacks. Really cool innovation – but not innovation for innovation’s sake – this is meeting a growing consumer need. I’m sure this will resonate with their identified target market. 

So, that was a full day… rounded off nicely with a few beers with attendees, speakers, judges and display stand owners. This event has now become well and truly established in the increasingly cluttered world of food entrepreneur events. This one stands out – for all the right reasons. Looking forward already to next year. 


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Judging at the Future Food Awards – Speciality Food & Food Talk

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.

Judging at the NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards

John Stapleton is the ‘Authentic Entrepreneur’ with 30 years’ experience in pioneering new FMCG categories and establishing and growing successful consumer-led businesses in both the UK and the USA. John now actively manages an investor/Non-Executive Director portfolio contributing value-added business growth advice, guidance and mentoring to business owners.

 John has first-hand experience in start-up, early stage growth and scale-up stage businesses, having co-founded 3 FMCG businesses, building and growing each to exit. John helps design creative, practical, experience-based solutions to problems, challenges and opportunities that brand owners encounter in starting, growing and scaling their companies, across all areas of business.

In 1987 John co-founded the New Covent Garden Soup Co Ltd., which pioneered and grew the fresh soup category in the UK. On reaching over £20m revenue, Daniels PLC bought New Covent Garden Soup Co in 1998. In that same year, John co-founded Glencoe Foods Inc., to bring the fresh soup concept to the US. On returning to Europe, John established a consumer branded food consultancy and worked with a number of corporate and early-stage growth businesses across the FMCG sector in the UK, US and continental Europe.