StartUp of the Week: Colombian Street Kitchen
We love to champion the diverse and delicious food startup scene in the UK, and every new stall or concept proves there's still plenty of room left in a busy market. One food startup that's caught our attention is Colombian Street Kitchen, specialising in authentic Colombian food.
Founder Esteban spotted an opportunity to bring the unique flavours of Colombia to a wider audience, both selling directly to hungry customers at food markets and supplying delis with Colombian specialities. We sat down with him over a cuppa to find out more.
1. Explain your business in the time it would take the kettle to boil
Colombian Street Kitchen is a catering business specialising in authentic Colombian street food. Its focus is on introducing the flavours and style of Colombia to the British market, with an emphasis on high quality and including gluten-free options.
2. Where are you based, and why is it a good location for your business?
I am in Wood Green with a home-based registered kitchen, which suits perfectly the need to be able to move almost anywhere in London for pop-ups, markets and events.
3. How did you come up with the idea?
The idea came to me after I realised there was a gap in the market for high-quality Colombian street food and a big appetite for South American cuisine in London. There are only a few street food traders doing Colombian food, and the restaurants are mainly focused on serving Colombian nationals.
4. What’s the business model?
Producing street food products using authentic Colombian recipes and locally sourced ingredients where possible, with an emphasis on gluten-free recipes. These are sold directly to consumers via pop-up events, market stalls, restaurant kitchen takeovers and private catering. We also supply artisan products to delis and local shops in North London.
5. Who are your competitors?
Well-established Latin American restaurants such as Ceviche and Wahaca. Also all the small food traders currently serving South American food, although many of our trader friends are helping to raise awareness of how amazing South American cuisine is!
6. What’s unique about your business?
Colombian Street Kitchen produces high-quality Colombian street food tailored to capture the British market, while keeping its authenticity. We have developed our own range of artisan gluten-free Colombian products that have recently gone on sale in North London delis.
7. What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan?
I was already trading but the focus was not clear, and the brand did not have much media presence.
8. How have you used it to grow your business?
I invested the money in buying a new branded gazebo for use in street markets, trademarking the Colombian Street Kitchen brand name, preparing for a month-long kitchen residency in Highgate Village and buying essential equipment for the kitchen.
9. Who is your mentor and how have they helped you?
Uri Mizrahi of Bagel Nash has helped me a great deal by showing me different food production models and sharing his personal experience of starting from a very small operation. Uri has also been invaluable in helping to maintain enthusiasm and looking for new opportunities.
10. Who is your regional delivery partner and how did they help you get a Virgin StartUp loan?
I contacted Virgin directly and that’s how I started the process.
11. Biggest achievement so far?
My biggest achievement is being profitable during the first year! Running a street food business alongside working part-time as a secondary school Spanish teacher has been a major challenge, so I am relieved that Colombian Street Kitchen has proven to be successful.
12. What’s next for your business?
Early in 2016, Colombian Street Kitchen will open a small restaurant in the new Green Rooms art hotel. We have been selected as the first to feature in their kitchen incubator project, which means we will be selling Colombian food to my local communities in Wood Green for 12 months. It’s a very exciting opportunity because will give us the chance to put Colombian food on the map while also developing our artisan produce.