Wednesday, April 4, 2018

News: Y-Accelerator success for The Russian Food Company Ltd

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The Russian Food Company Ltd has been named as the winner of the Y-Accelerator 2018 initiative, with the Sheffield-based food manufacturer receiving a £25k equity investment from UK Steel Enterprise (UKSE) that will help the firm "fuel growth and expansion into new markets."

The innovative business support scheme is a collaboration between private and public sector organisations; including UK Steel Enterprise, University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University, Rotherham Investment and Development Office (RiDO), as well as the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub.

Following an intensive period of business support, a diverse group of participants pitched to an expert panel at an event held at Gripple's Glide House in Sheffield.

Founded in April 2017 by entrepreneurs Leeza Murina and Steve Jones after spotting a gap in the market, The Russian Food Company Ltd, which is based in Sheffield, created the "Bunza," a modern twist on the traditional Russian pie. A cross between an artisan pie and a gourmet sandwich, the product has become a huge success with foodies at farmers markets across the UK. The pie experts have already been successful 19 times at the British Pie Awards.

Co-founder Leeza (pictured, centre), said: "Food unites friends and family and is a huge part of people's lives, and with the British taste buds becoming ever more sophisticated, we are seeing increasing demand for something different; our handmade Russian food ticks that box.

"Following our initial success at independent farmers markets across the UK, the £25k equity investment will help us to expand our reach and deliver to smaller retail outlets such as farm shops, independent restaurants, cafes and delicatessens; growing our customer base with the view to eventually working with larger retailers too. With this in mind, we have already had a great response from Ocado, Selfridges Food Hall and Virgin Rail, to name a few."

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Rotherham Investment & Development Office (RiDO), the regeneration arm of Rotherham Council, developed the Y-Accelerator programme and has lead on a number of editions. Eight companies pitched at the event which marks the end of a 12 week development initiative offering small business owners access to expert advice, specialist workshops and mentoring.

Alan Stanley, regional executive of UKSE, said: "The process was designed to help validate ideas, develop strong business models and provide people with the tools and skills to launch new businesses, and The Russian Food Company really demonstrated existing capacity for growth and expansion.

"The eight businesses who made it to the final pitch event have been through a challenging programme forcing them to demonstrate the viability of their products time and time again.

"The quality of the final pitches reflects very well on all those who supported the entrepreneurs and in particular I'd like to thank staff at RiDO who led the programme."

Talking about the Y-Accelerator initiative, Leeza said: "I found the Y-Accelerator to be an extremely useful experience because it has given us the focus and dedicated space and time to work on developing our business.

"The team at RiDO have the incredible ability to enable you to see your business through the eyes of the consumer, so I want to thank them for all they have done throughout the 12 week programme."

SCR Growth Hub website
UKSE website
RiDO website
The Russian Food Company Ltd website

Images: UKSE

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