We took four startups on a mission to crack the US

We’re focused on changing the prospects of startups for good. So when we launched Virgin StartUp Foodpreneur, a competition to find the best UK food and drink businesses, we made sure we had the prize of a lifetime - an all-expenses-paid trip to the US, staying in the gorgeous Virgin Hotel Chicago, an intensive workshop on exporting from the UKTI and finally, the opportunity to pitch to HUGE US retailer, Target.

Getting your product into an establishment like Target is the food startup equivalent of winning the lottery – we gave that opportunity to four startups.

Watch our video of this incredible trip

Meet the startups:

Pip & Nut

Pippa Murray
Founder: Pippa Murray

Elevator Pitch: Fed up of processed nut butters full of palm oil, Pip & Nut create fresh, all-natural nut butters – just nuts and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Double Dutch

Raissa and Joyce

Founders: Raissa De Haas and Joyce De Haas

Elevator Pitch: Gone are the days of the substandard mixer. Double Dutch’s mixers feature flavour combinations such as pomegranate and basil, adding a delicious twist to your cocktail and ensuring the Tesco Value tonic is banished to the back of the cupboard.

Harry Brompton's


Founder: Ian O’Donohue

Elevator Pitch: Harry Brompton's create the world’s only alcoholic iced tea. Not just that, it’s also gluten-free and contains no preservatives or artificial nasties.


Gem Misa
Founder: Gem Misa

Elevator pitch: Caulirice is cauliflower-based rice that cooks in just two and a half minutes, comes in multiple flavours, and has 75% less calories than white rice – making it a healthy, low-carb option, as well as a way to get one of your five-a-day.

Here's a breakdown of what happened each day.

Day 1:

Meet for breakfast in Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in Heathrow before flying with Virgin Atlantic to Chicago.

Trip to Target Store to scout the shelves, see the competition and get a feel for what type of products are on offer.

Drinks reception at the British Consol General in Chicago’s residence.

Day 2

Full day workshop organized by the UKTI with experts sharing advice on how to sell your products in the US. These included tips from local established food entrepreneurs, an introduction to tax and legal considerations from PWC in Chicago, rules and regulations from the US Food and Drug Administartion (FDA), advice on how to manufacture in the US and then a talk from Virgin Hotel Chicago’s director of food and drink and Head Chef on how to get your product stocked in the hotel.

Day 3

Fly to Minneapolis, home of Target headquarters. Here the entrepreneurs met with Paul Lindley, founder of Ella’s Kitchen, who gave them advice on what kind of things the buyers at Target would be looking for. Then each entrepreneur was given an hour to pitch to the buyer from their sector.

Get the Virgin StartUp Business plan