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Start-up Scale-up Initiative Aims Helping Small Vegan Businesses

Start-up Scale-up Initiative Aims Helping Small Vegan Businesses

by Agi Kaja

Vegan Business Tribe, the online community of more than one thousand vegan business owners, has teamed up with the UK's biggest crowdfunding platform, Crowdfunder, to help a group of diverse and unique plant-based businesses secure funding for growth. Through the new initiative, Vegan Start-up Scale-up, almost 20 businesses have combined their collective fundraising power and made it easy for people to support vegan start-ups through rewards-based funding campaigns via dedicated portals on the Crowdfunder and Vegan Business Tribe websites.

David Pannell, co-founder of Vegan Business Tribe, told TheVeganKind: "It's really important that we get behind the grass-roots of the vegan economy. People look at companies like Oatly and think 'they were an overnight success', that it's easy to make it in the plant-based sector, but the reality is Oatly launched in the 90s. It took them 20 years of hard work to achieve mainstream recognition and that hard work paved the way for other ethical, plant-based business to follow. Larger companies have the brand recognition and budget to make high-impact launches, but it is the pioneer grass-roots companies that create the demand and work to get people onto their plant-based journey in the first place. These companies are out there at the fairs talking face-to-face with veg-curious consumers, they are building and educating their own audiences and moving the vegan cause and sector forward – so we need to be there to support them.
"Vegan food especially might be quite well catered for now, but it is in no way oversaturated: compare the number of animal burger producers to the number of plant-based producers. And when you look at other sectors that are wide open to plant-based disruption: pet food, parent and baby, beer... some of these grass roots vegan companies today will be the challenger brands of tomorrow."

The initiative offers opportunity for vegan start-ups seeking to grow quickly. To help them do this, the Vegan Start-up Scale-up project brings together plant-powered organisations all in one place, making it easier than ever for vegans to support businesses with similar ethical stances free of the worry that they are furthering animal exploitation.

The organisations which applied for the opportunity first took part in a bootcamp session with Crowdfunder and Vegan Business Tribe, joined by nearly 50 other businesses, to learn how to run a crowdfunding campaign. From these companies, 20 went on to launch their crowdfunding projects together as part of the programme. For theses businesses working together can increase their fundraising potential. The companies aim to raise more than £600,000 in cash together. Among them, some are only looking to raise a couple of thousand pounds to launch a new product.

Through Vegan Business Tribe, the start-ups have been able to support each other in building their fundraising campaigns, share success secrets and draw on the expertise of others – plus they have been able to take advantage of a dedicated vegan expert from Crowdfunder to assist them with creating their campaigns. Importantly, by using the crowdfunding model, these organisations will also be able to raise funding without giving away equity in their business, instead offering supporters products or rewards. Each is able to determine their own crowdfunding targets and secures funds individually.

A list of businesses taking part in the initiative includes:

  • VegfestUK, the renowned vegan food festival which attracts thousands of people to its events in London, Brighton and Bristol
  • Fungtn, alcohol-free craft beer made from mushrooms
  • MycoLearn, a network of online vegan courses
  • Happy Carrot Skincare, a range of products that care for the environment as much as skin
  • Vegan Handknit, a maker of vegan knitted accessories
  • Wheat Meats, a vegan bakery launching a just-add-water seitan mix
  • Primary Veducation, a creator of education resources to encourage schools to be more inclusive of vegan children
  • DoGood, a plant-based, fresh and nutritionally complete dog food
  • Conscious Community Project, which aims to educate, support and grow their local community to work towards a circular economy and sustainable living
  • Phyton, a not-for-profit, plant-based protein company
  • Earth Warriors, a zero waste shop in Darlington
  • Meat’s Out!, a start-up with plans to open the first vegan street food eatery in the North East, with locally-grown mushroom based food the focal point
  • Vegan Dunk, a fully vegan artisan biscuit delivery service
  • Kambee, decadent plant-based desserts
  • The Tropical Duchess, a beauty brand and style guide
  • Vegan Vouchers, a vegan discount card scheme
  • Root Kitchen, a plant-based frozen ready meal brand

More vegan businesses intend to join the group in March. 

Those who want to support these businesses can choose a range of donations towards a company of their choice. In exchange they will receive an equivalent reward, such as a crate of mushroom beers, a knitted vegan hat, an advert in Vegfest’s new magazine or a treat pack including a vegan skincare product.

For example, Victoria Carpenter, founder of Happy Carrot Skincare is looking to raise £1,500 to add a new dry mask made from beetroot powder to her award-winning vegan skincare range. She is offering products as rewards for her backers, as well as an individual one-to-one workshop on Zoom where she will teach backers how to make their own plant-based lip balms.

Victoria says: “When people discover it’s not just my products that are vegan – it’s their founder too – they become even more excited about my brand. The Vegan Start-up Scale-up doesn’t just raise funds for my business, it’s helping to introduce it to an audience that are primed to be loyal to it. By sharing the products as a reward for funding, I’m hoping to build relationships that last beyond the initial Crowdfunder.”

David added: “Our collaboration with Crowdfunder means that businesses can leverage the swell of support from the vegan community. By working together, we can support innovative organisations that fill gaps in the plant-based market with new products and services – helping to create a greener, kinder and more vegan world.

“Crowdfunders are an excellent way for start-ups to raise cash. However, running a successful campaign can be difficult. On average only one in 20 people who visit a crowdfunding page invest, and the average donation amount is £50. Therefore, to raise £3,000, b

David co-founded Vegan Business Tribe with Lisa Fox. They hope the crowdfunding programme could become an annual event for their members.
To donate to the Vegan Start-up Scale-up Crowdfunder campaign visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/start-up-scale-up

Agi Kaja

Agi Kaja

News Editor Focused On Conscious Consumerism. Vegan Business Promoter. Animal Advocate. Environmentalist.

Breaking the news on plant-based food innovation, new vegan products, sustainability, animal welfare, environment, science, society and conscious shopping.

Contact: [email protected]

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