Virgin StartUp of the week: O-food

As we become more aware of where our food comes from, and more conscious of what we put into our bodies, more and more businesses are stepping up to the plate (pardon the pun) and providing really exciting and nutritious food. One of the tastiest of these is O-food, a Scandinavian sandwich bar that offers wholesome and traditional artisan sandwiches, as well as delicious salads, coffees, and cold-pressed juices. We spoke to founders Jens Hannibal and Claus Astrup to find out more!

Richard B in lift

We choose one Virgin StartUp company to be featured on Virginstartup.org each week. We ask our startups of the week to deliver the ultimate elevator pitch. What would they say if they had one minute in a lift with Sir Richard Branson? Please answer the questions below, keeping each answer to five sentences max. 

Ground to floor 1 – Explain what your business does

O-food serves nutritious, tasty food to people who care about how it’s made and where it’s from. The recipes are created in partnership with two of Denmark’s best chefs and focuses on sustainable fish and seasonal veg. The ultimate calling card is the made-to-order signature sandwiches on organic rye or sourdough, and the menu also offers a vibrant selection of seasonal salads, soups and sides. Breakfast includes a multigrain porridge with seasonal toppings, signature yoghurts with granola, breakfast sandwiches and sourdough toast as well as tea, barista coffee, cold pressed juices.

Floor 1 to 2 - Where are you based?

The first O-food opened its doors late Feb 2015 in 71 Brushfield Street, Spitalfields Market, E1 6AA.

Floor 2 to 3 – What’s the business model?

Being a restaurant, it’s pretty simple. We source good ingredients, use these to prepare fresh food everyday, and serve it to our customers.

Floor 3 to 4 – Who are your competitors?

Our immediate competitive segment includes Pod, Eat, Pret, Tossed, Chop’d, Benugo, Vital Ingredients, Wasabi, Leon, plus a few more. To maintain competitiveness and initial attractiveness, entry-level lunch items start at £4.50 and go up to £6.95. The overall gastronomic approach uniquely positions O-food as an alternative on par with Gail’s, Nordic Bakery and the Natural Kitchen, but with the same convenience as a Pret or McDonald’s.

Floor 4 to 5 – What’s your USP?

We believe that more and more people share our concerns about the dietary choices we make that have huge consequences both our bodies and the environment - but simply don’t have the time to prioritise this in their busy everyday lives. O-food has done the hard work, so all you have to do is enjoy food that is good for you and in tune with the planet. In sum, we seek to engage and inspire our customers to join us in changing the world by changing the way we eat.

Floor 5 to 6 – Where did the idea come from?

Walking out of a seafood restaurant in Barcelona later summer 2009, Danish national Jens Hannibal looked across the street and saw a McDonald's. Realising that a proper fish and veggie alternative was missing in this market, the idea to create a healthy, eco-friendly fast casual concept was conceived.

Floor 6 to 7 – How much funding did you receive from Virgin StartUp?

£25,000

Floor 7 to 8 – How are you going to use it to grow your business?

The loan was used in combination with equity finance to fund pre-opening elements such as brand development and shop fit-out.

Floor 8 to 9 – Who’s your Virgin StartUp mentor?

O-food has been working with Nick Coates who is himself a food entrepreneur, having opened two cafes.

Floor 9 to 10 – What’s your workspace like? Send us a photo from your phone.

My workspace is the restaurant. I’m lucky to always be surrounded by smiling, enthusiastic O-foodies.

Floor 10 to 11 – where will your business be in 12 month’s time?

We will spend the first six months fine operations, developing the company culture and values and after six-ten months start looking for site number two. The goal is to be busy opening the next shop by month 12.