London-based dairy free cheese producer, Kinda Co. has been named as The Seed Fund’s 2019 champion, picking up the award at the Great Taste Golden Fork Dinner on Sunday 1 September. A one-woman enterprise, founded by Ellie Brown (pictured above) in October 2017, Kinda Co. will now embark on full year of business support and mentoring with the food and drink industry’s only philanthropic start-up accelerator.
The latest step in Ellie’s mission to spread the word on great tasting vegan cheese, The Seed Fund prize caps off a remarkable two years in business for the lifelong cheese fan, which began with her switch to veganism and the struggle to find enjoyable dairy free alternatives. Having encountered issues with texture, taste, aroma and digestion along the way, Ellie took to the kitchen to create her own vegan cheeses. Two years later, Kinda Co. now offers nine nut-based products, including Feta-inspired Greek Style cubes, a cheesy Nacho Dip made with cashews and a Cheddar-esque Farmhouse block.
One of 14 start-ups to win a place on the seventh Seed Fund Academy, supported by The Collaborators and Great Taste, Kinda Co. spent the summer taking part in the philanthropic project’s intensive business development programme. Guided by mentors such as Renée Elliott, founder of Planet Organic, Camilla Barnard of Rude Health, Guy Tullberg from Tracklements, fine food consultant, Scott Winston and Yasha Estraikh from Piper Private Equity, the Academy covered everything from branding, PR and social media to funding, finance and law, before selecting a Final Five to pitch for the annual prize. Coming out on top among a short list featuring Borough Broth Co., Bottlebrush Ferments, Flawsome! and PRIME, Ellie was commended for her significant progress and commitment throughout the programme.
Ellie Brown commented:
“I’m so delighted to have won! The Seed Fund has been such an incredible experience and I’m so excited to have their continued help for the year ahead. The guidance and expertise offered throughout The Seed Academy has been invaluable, not only in shaping Kinda Co. in a practical sense, but also in terms of the support offered from both the mentors and my fellow classmates. Dairy free cheese is a new concept for many people and changing perceptions can be tough. However I’m confident that with this wonderful prize I’m in such a great position to successfully grow Kinda Co., and show just how tasty dairy free cheese can be!”
Jayne Noblet of The Collaborators, founder of The Seed Fund, adds:
“The standard of our Academy jumped up yet again this year, so it’s a huge achievement for Kinda Co. to have taken the top prize. Ellie has impressed across the board, from her devotion to the Academy, soaking up the knowledge and experience of our mentors like a sponge, to the quality of Kinda Co.’s product range. It’s no mean feat to create new products in a category that’s still in its formative years, and Ellie is one of those leading the charge for dairy free cheese, winning fans among vegans and dairy consumers alike. Driven by Ellie’s energy, tenacity and positivity, Kinda Co. has hit the ground running and it was great to see her take the stage on the fine food world’s biggest night of the year. Moments like this need to be savoured, as there’s a lot of challenges and hard work ahead, but with the help of our mentors we’re hoping there will be plenty more nights like this to come!”