In recent years, a real change has been seen in the food industry; health foods are having a moment, and the providence of a product is all important. Farmers’ markets have gained in popularity, with hundreds popping up in London alone, and Borough market has gone from a wholesale fruit and veg market to one of the city’s biggest attractions. And where there’s change, there’s opportunity to capitalise on it – as demonstrated by Sourced Market.

Sourced Market, based in St Pancras Station, blends the high quality produce, atmosphere and shopping experience of a great market with the practicality of a convenience store, combining retail with artisan coffee, bakery, food-to-go and casual dining. They source produce from some of the best of Britain’s small, artisan producers and bring it to our customers in St Pancras Station, seven days a week.

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Sourced Market: looking for investment

The business, founded by entrepreneur Ben O’Brien in 2007, has gone from strength to strength, drawing on Londoners’ growing desire for fresh, healthy food on their doorstep. Ben lived and worked in Borough Market for six years, building relationships with the producers and traders found there and eventually creating the concept for his own market, Sourced. Sourced Market has now been running for six years, serves over 12,000 customers, commuters and tourists a week and brought in£2.8 million in 2014.

Sourced Market is currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube to raise funds to expand further. They have already raised over 80 percent of their £750,000 target, with another two weeks to go. For founder Ben O’Brien, crowdfunding was the best route for Sourced when looking for investment. He said, “I’d urge any entrepreneurs out there to consider crowdfunding. For Sourced Market, crowdfunding the first time round was a great experience – it really raised our profile as a business and we have been reaping results from the campaign on a daily basis since.”

O’Brien is a seasoned pro at raising investment – he has previously raised another £700,000 for Sourced from Oakley Capital Group.

“Raising money can be a lengthy process. While some entrepreneurs can raise investment at the idea stage with just a business plan, most investors will want to see proof of concept – i.e. your idea up and running, albeit on a small scale. I’d suggest getting the ball rolling under your own steam if you can – use your savings, take out a loan, borrow or take investment from friends and family.”

“Getting out there and talking to as many people as possible is, in my opinion, the best way to do it.”

However, according to O’Brien, the key to raising funds is in the preparation.

“Nailing your business plan is a prerequisite when starting out. You need to be able to sum up the concept as succinctly as possible and be prepared to sell your idea and your business – not just to potential investors – but to anyone who you want to work with you or for you, i.e. suppliers and employees. Convincing people of your ability to succeed and getting them to believe in you all depends on getting that first pitch right first time, especially as you may only get one opportunity with a potential investor”

He continues: “From the onset, you really need to grasp what differentiates you from your competitors. Smaller businesses can react more quickly and bring ideas to fruition much faster than bigger, more established businesses. That’s how at Sourced Market we can compete with competitors with much greater resources, from supermarkets to coffee chains. Try out new ideas and new products regularly and if they work, keep them. If not, move on quickly”

Most importantly though, for entrepreneurs thinking of taking the plunge, is to “never be afraid of failure.”

“Having an appetite for risk is a key attribute for any entrepreneur and working on a trial and error basis is often the best way to learn what works and what doesn’t. Take the plunge by trying out things that you’re not 100% sure will work. It’s better to try five things and find one that works really well and improves your business than to try nothing because of fear of failure.”

Sourced Market’s campaign is open on Crowdcube for another 12 days. They are looking for £750,000 in return for 8% equity in the company – and in addition to superb returns, Sourced Market is offering rewards such as luxury hampers, exclusive events and Sourced Market discounted ‘Blue Cards’ to bondholders. For more information, visit their campaign page here.


Miranda Wadham on 07/12/2015
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