Two of the country’s up-and-coming food and drink entrepreneurs will open pop-up shops at intu Metrocentre this week as they take part in a start-ups competition being run by owner intu and Virgin StartUp.

Rupesh Thomas and Dan Pawson are semi-finalists of Foodpreneur 2017, launched by intu and Virgin StartUp to shine a light on the country’s most creative and innovative food and drink start-ups. They are running the week-long pop-up shops from Friday 30 June in order to compete for six weeks of free space with intu and online at intu.co.uk and need to get thousands of intu Metrocentre shoppers excited about their products to stand a chance at winning the top prize.

Rupesh and Alexandra Thomas from Tuk Tuk Chai

Shoppers will get the chance to enjoy ready to drink real Indian chai which is being sold by Rupesh’s business Tuk Tuk Chai and the UK’s first hand-crafted salmon skin crisps, sold by Dan from his business Sea Chips.

Dan said: “Sea Chips is the UK’s first hand-crafted salmon skin crisps company, using the often wasted nutrient-packed skin. We’ve created a range of flavours consisting of sea salt, lime & chilli and salt & vinegar. We’re also really keen to give back so we’re committed to donating a portion of our profits to ocean charities to help keep the sea clean.

“It’s going to be great working with intu because they have so many shopping centres up and down the country. We’ve launched a product that’s never been seen before in this country and the support from this competition will give us the chance to get in front of lots of healthy snack fans.”

The entrepreneurs will be judged on everything from customer engagement to their social media presence as they attempt to promote their product to intu Metrocentre shoppers for the first time. If successful they will be invited to pitch their business to a number of industry experts including Dragon’s Den star Levi Roots in the final stage of the competition.

Gavin Prior, general manager at intu Metrocentre said: “As part of our mission to create new experiences for customers that make them smile, we’re excited that customers of intu Metrocentre will be among the first in the country to enjoy these fantastic new food and drink businesses. We think they’re going to be fantastic new additions to the centre’s strong line-up of retail and leisure brands.”

Dan Pawson from Sea Chips

“At the same time we’re looking forward to helping these entrepreneurs flourish with the opportunity to reach thousands of new customers in our centre and benefit from all the support on offer from intu and Virgin StartUp.”
Tuk Tuk Chai founder Rupesh said: “Tuk Tuk Chai is the first and only ready to drink real Indian chai tea in the UK. It’s amazing tasting and even kids love it because they think it’s like a milkshake so we’ve got a wide range of customers loving our product.

“I wanted to create a product that people love, that there is a demand for but that does not exist already. Foodpreneur is probably the best place for us to get exposure with intu and Virgin collaborating together and it is going to create a great platform to take our product to the next level in the UK.”

Rupesh and Dan are among eight Foodpreneur semi-finalists opening pop-up shops at intu shopping centres across the country.

Mei Shui, managing director of Virgin StartUp said: “Entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of the UK economy and we’re proud to be shining a light on the UK food and drink start-up scene with these eight entrepreneurs. We’re excited to give them the opportunity to prove how popular their ideas are through running their own pop-up store in intu centres. Hopefully customers seeing these eight entrepreneurs selling their products will realise it’s possible to turn their business ideas into reality and that all of these start-ups will continue to flourish and push the UK start-up scene forward.”