The Voom Tour 2017 arrived in Birmingham on Thursday 28th September, offering Brum entrepreneurs and start-ups the unmissable opportunity to get one-on-one business advice, listen to tech discussions, and hob-nob with influencers at the event here in the heart of Digbeth.
One of the highlights of this fantastic day was the highly-anticipated Voom Pitch, where talented folks had 2 minutes to pitch their cool business brainwave to win £5000 for their business AND brunch with Richard Branson.
Following 6 impressive pitches, the judges – Elena Birchall (Relationship Manager, Virgin StartUp), Sean Reel (Mentor, Virgin Voom), Lee Cole (Managing Director, Point 360) – decided that the winner of this unique comp from Virgin Media Business was Project Jackfruit, a mission to bring home-made savoury jackfruit to the masses.
We spoke to the start-up’s co-founder, Jordan Grayson, about this innovative new business! Here’s our Q&A with Jordan…
Q. Project Jackfruit. What’s the concept?
Project Jackfruit is a revolution on your plate. We use an unripe fruit – Jackfruit to create a delicious meat alternative that’s all natural, 100% vegan and gluten-free. We have four different flavours: All American BBQ, Jerkpocalypse, East Beast (Curry) and Nutty Satay (Thai peanut satay).
We’re a project because up to 70% of jackfruit is wasted in India alone – we’re here to stop that. Plus wages are terrible there with just over 20% being in poverty. We can provide livelihood opportunities for farmers, provide fair trade pay and work with them directly. All by using a natural resource from a fruit that grows in abundance.
Q. So, what does this fruit taste like?
As we use the fruit young before it’s ripe it has no taste – it’s essentially a blank slate for us to flavour. It’s the texture that makes this such a perfect alternative resembling pulled pork/shredded chicken. Our sauces are our own recipes and entirely homemade – we’ve refined them based on feedback from customers as we’ve travelled all across the UK selling it. It literally tastes just like meat – people are absolutely baffled by it. In fact, we taste tested it on meat eaters and they didn’t even know it wasn’t meat…
Q. Any ideas what are you doing to spend the £5000 on?
We’re going to party. HARD. Just kiddin’. We’re going to put all the money into working with the farmers abroad and getting our product manufactured. This will allow us to have a longer shelf life and fulfil our ethical mission as well as make sure we can scale up in order to supply the demand as we go out into more and more retail stores across the U.K.
Q. What are you’re going to ask Mr Branson?
Why haven’t you bought out Branston pickles and changed the name to Branson pickles? Genius. In all seriousness… I know the artist that designed the first scarlet lady logo for Virgin Airlines so that’s definitely going to be the icebreaker. Then I’m going to dig deep and get some thoughts from him about how we can really attract investment in return for equity to really make the business boom. We’re looking for the right people to make the business flourish. We’re combining purpose with our business.
Q. Where do you hope to be with Project Jackfruit in 5 years?
As a business, I hope that we would have really established our brand and made our mission a reality. We’d like to get stocked nationally and take our brand out of the UK. We want to take jackfruit to the mainstream – we’re not gonna stop until everyone knows about it.
Jackfruit will be the new banana.
We’ve got so many ideas with what we can do with jackfruit as it’s so versatile. This is such an exciting time and we’re so ecstatic the judges saw the passion and potential in our business and idea.
This is just the start – isn’t it time we invest in the future of food?
Hear, hear. Fantastic stuff! Congrats to Jordan and (business partner and co-founder) Abigail. We all look forward to tucking into some delicious jackfruit very soon!
Get further info here: https://www.projectjackfruit.com
Support their Crowdfunder campaign here: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/project-jackfruit-vegan-ethical-independent
Check out the Voom Pitch video below…
— VirginMediaBusiness (@vmbusiness) 29 September 2017