Unique food firm tastes success at first-ever Sheffield Soup event

Pennie Raven, founder of Sheffield Soup
Pennie Raven, founder of Sheffield Soup
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A unique surplus food enterprise has become the first winner of a new competition which combines the Dragons’ Den, crowdfunding - and soup.

As part of the Sheffield Soup event, entrepreneurs were given four minutes to talk about a unique idea that would benefit people’s lives in the city.

A paying audience then decided who gets to go home with the money taken on the door - after they have eaten a bowl of soup made by Silversmiths restaurant.

The inaugural Sheffield Soup event took place at the Printhouse in North Church Lane on Wednesday, July 29, and The Real Junk Food Project Sheffield was chosen as the winner.

The volunteer-run project, which takes in surplus food from businesses and food outlets to produce healthy meals, took home £540 - collected from each member of the crowd’s £5 entrance fees.

Jo Hercberg, director at The Real Junk Food Project Sheffield, said “Sheffield Soup was a really positive experience, the audience were friendly and supportive.

“I’d highly recommend it if you have an idea! Winning the fund from Sheffield Soup will allow us to buy a van and start making a real impact on food waste in Sheffield.”

Pennie Raven, founder of the Sheffield Soup project, said the first event was a great success and it is hoped this will be the first of many.

She added: “It was definitely the crowd participation and interaction with the pitchers that made the evening a great success.

“We had over 100 people come together and debate the ideas.

“The feedback has been very encouraging, the branding from Ian Anderson, live music from The Clear and the gorgeous soup from Siversmiths went down really well.

“But it was the buzz of excitement amongst so many like minded Sheffield folk that surpassed all our expectations.

“We’re already looking forward to the next event and people can apply to pitch now on our website.”

The ‘Soup’ concept started in Detroit after the city went bust.

Businesswoman Pennie, owner of HR Guardian Angels, brought it to Sheffield with the aim of spreading it across the region and establishing independent groups in communities.

Shortly after the project’s launch, she said: “Soup is looking to fund ideas that improve community, urban life, the environment or social justice.

“It can also fund a start-up business or an idea that helps an existing business.

“I was compelled to bring the concept to the people of Sheffield, the ‘just get on with it’ spirit is perfect for this kind of community collaboration.

“It’s an independent micro-economy with instant results, wrapped up in a fun, social evening where art, community, business and political dialogue become action.”

Sheffield Soup is a voluntary organisation with a six-strong advisory panel of business people: Pennie, Christopher Hill of Element, Hugh Mann Adamson of Ltbl Productions, Justin Rowntree of Silversmiths Restaurant, Jennie Swift, of Black Box Productions and Brian Trevaskiss of MoreComputers.

The next Sheffield Soup event takes place at The Printhouse on Wednesday, September 23. Entrepreneurs can register to pitch online at www.sheffieldsoup.com