Like any business, food businesses come with an array of unique challenges. Accessibility, perishability, distribution, competition and uniqueness are some of the many considerations that can be overwhelming when it comes to starting a legitimate and profitable food business.

When I read about THRIVE through QMU’s website, I did not know such a programme existed. So, I cleared my schedule, made my registration (it’s free), and attended the 2-day learning and networking event. As someone who has spent 10 years in consultative sales, with culinary experience and an MSc Gastronomy candidate, THRIVE got my attention as a food business start-up programme. More importantly, it offered a chance to develop a network of relevant people involved in the food businesses in Edinburgh.

There were many aspects of developing a food business which are covered in the 2-day programme from idea generation, interactive session on food business case studies, food safety and more. The best parts of the sessions were the useful product development materials that I could keep, the question-and-answer session (make sure you list all your concerns regarding your potential business or food project before the programme) and the people I met.

That is what I enjoy about networking and learning events, you never know who you will meet and how you can positively impact others. I have made friends with a local spice merchant who specialises in distributing fairtrade spices (Ujamaa Spice) and a kimchi guru who uses mainly local ingredients and distributes their kimchi to burger joints (Naked Kimchi Co.).

Apart from food talks and networking over food, one of the fun interactive parts I remember vividly was when we did sensory exploration to see how a drink’s colour can affect how we perceive sweetness and flavour. It was interesting to understand how food products should be tasted during their development/post-development stage.

There are four categories of people I think would benefit the most from THRIVE: those who are new to food business, people who are interested in breaking the plateau of their food business, individuals who are keen to expand their food network in Edinburgh, and foodies who want to make money from their passion.

Above all, what I enjoyed the most about the programme is this - I know I am not alone in starting a food business in Scotland and I know where I can go to seek advice on food product development, funding, distribution and starting my food business.

 

Hariz Lee

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