"I believe corporates are struggling to innovate quickly enough and they're no longer the experts as to where food and technology are going. Start ups that are at the forefront of creativity."
Forward Fooding works to help create partnerships between established food organizations and startups to create a brighter future of food. The company's Chief Marketing Officer Lesley Stonier, is working constantly with startups to foster innovation in the food and foodtech industry. Women In the Food Industry co-founder Mecca Ibrahim caught up with Lesley to find out more about her work, the Food Tech 500 and what we can learn from big food brands. Discover and extract of that interview below or listen to the podcast with Lesley kindly produced by James Haywood from OpenKitchen.
Lesley Stonier has been working in marketing for over 15 years. She started by working for Ferrero on their flagship brands including Ferrero Rocher, Kinder Surprise and Kinder Bueno. Making a move to GlaxoSmithKline she worked on their wellness & wellbeing brands. She graduated up through the ranks and landed the job of Head of Marketing for Lucoxade. She then set up her own consultancy before taking on the role of Forward Fooding's CMO early in 2019.
What are some of Forward Fooding's objectives?
Much of the story of Forward Fooding is recognising that entrepreneurs hold the key to a brighter future of food. Bringing the skill sets of pioneers and corporates together can accelerate innovation at a greater scale. I believe corporates are struggling to innovate quickly enough and they're no longer the experts as to where food and technology are going. It's the start ups that are at the forefront of creation. Combining that entrepreneurial spirit and ideas with the corporate scale of networks and funding you can create something very powerful .
Please tell us about the FoodTech 500 and what you are hoping to achieve from it?
We launched the FoodTech 500 as FoodTech's answer to the Fortune 500. We wondered who was going to be the next big FoodTech unicorn after witnessing Impossible Food's astronomical rise in share price. The food tech industry is so diverse in terms of innovation and there seemed to be no real way to showcase all these businesses. We thought the FoodTech 500 would be a great way to do this. We launched in September, have had hundreds of applications and we've just extended the deadline of applications to the 15th November so there's still time to apply. If you visit the ForwardFooding website at www.forwardfooding.com/foodtech500 that's where you can apply. In the new year we'll be ranking the businesses, in three key areas - business size, digital footprint and sustainability - which is a key factor in any business in these days. We'll be ranking based on a SDG (Sustainablity Development Goal) score. We'll be looking to release the full list in January.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone who wanted to start up a food business?
The food and drink start-up community is really supportive and encouraging. There's a lot of people you can learn from to work out if your business and idea is sustainable and whether it can grow and thrive. Anyone setting up their own business needs to have the mental and emotional ability to go for what it is they want to achieve, but not have their hopes and dreams and self esteem pinned exactly on that. Being able to pivot and to go with the flow is critical to being a good entrepreneur. Also having that self conviction to get through obstacles and know you will find a way is the mainstay of the entrepreneurial journey.
Part of this interview has been made into a podcast which you can listen to here:
You can read the full interview with Lesley Stonier CMO at Forward Fooding on Women In The Food Industry here.