3 things I learned from attending IFE 15
Last week I was lucky enough to attend the International Food and Drink Event in London's ExCel centre. This event concentrated hundreds of food and beverage companies into one location and presented an excellent opportunity to discover new, innovative and delicious products. More importantly, it gave me chance to put them in my mouth.
I attended as part of a work project and, as this included scouting out a hit list of independent retailers, I was exposed to the luminous filament of enthusiasm small business owners tend to posses. It’s hard to not be inspired when you’re surrounded by people who believe heart and soul in what they do. Before I knew it I was heading home with armfuls of gorgeous corporate literature and plenty of new companies to keep and eye on.
I also uncovered a few realisations to incorporate in my everyday life; here are the top 3 lessons I gleaned from my time at IFE.
1.Belief is everything.
It sounds obvious, but if you don’t believe in your product why would anyone else? Every stall I visited, from cheese to seeds, marinades to tapenades, truly believed their product was the best on the market and communicated the reasons why clearly and efficiently. For some companies it was the company heritage or brand narrative that gave their product a foot up. Others relied on the products themselves, honing in on differentiation in production methods to help their products stay memorable in congested markets. This belief is contagious and can be easily utilised in a personal sphere. Believe in yourself and watch as others start to believe it too.
2.F*cking up is ok
I was lucky enough to catch a few talks on my down time. One of my favourites was a talk entitled “The Power of Protein” headed up by the founders of WheyHey. WheyHey is a high protein ice cream which enables us to use the phrase ‘Bro, do you even lick?’ at fitness establishments up and down the country. The founders took their qualification in Sport Science and identified a niche that just had to be filled. They’re now bench pressing a prosperous business whilst being spotted by Richard Branson. Things weren’t always so cool for the duo. They literally liquidised their assets on their early ventures, witnessing what £30,000 worth of melted ice cream looks like on the day they were set to fulfil their first major order. Not to be defeated, the guys pulled a come back out of the bag and have even launched a second product line. The lesson here? Mistakes are inevitable, failure is not. It is impossible to stop the people who keep on trying.
3.Innovation is out there, wrapped up in inspiration and ideas.
Modern life has the nasty habit of masking inspiration and wrapping us all in a blanket of “meh”. My visits to the IFE reignited my passion of good food and fanned my entrepreneurial ember, which may have dulled a little over the past few months. There are always new avenues to explore, more people to meet and more things to try: from Vegetarian Caviar to ready boiled eggs! Innovation sits in the nook where inspiration and ideas meet. I look forward to seeing where these innovations lead and which new ones will appear at IFE 17!