CONGRATULATIONS to our inKERBator graduates: Batch No.6 of 2018!
It’s been a great three months watching these new businesses grow through our inKERBator programme. 12 out of 14 made it through – an amazing success rate for this batch. From a 22 year old professional butcher scorching ‘lamb bone brûlée’ behind his meat wheel (Carcass), to a chef from Lake Garda rolling fresh pear and gorgonzola gnocchi (The Gnocchi Shop). What did they learn? What’s their No.1 piece of advice to others looking to start a street food business?
Meet all 12 graduates below and find out.
(Or, if you fancy joining one of 2019’s batches of inKERBators, get a ticket to our New Year new career KERB Workshop in January).
Carcass (Dan Rooney)
Favourite experience you’ve had trading? Seeing those regulars coming back, receiving the feedback we’ve had is such a promising and rewarding feeling. Knowing the brand works is so reassuring.
One piece of advice for the new inKERBators? Market research is so important, finding the right staff and trading in the right places.
Name one person doing something in food right now who you’re excited about for 2019. I don’t think there’s any single person really, just young talent in general. I trained as a chef for only 5 years in some great kitchens with some truly amazing chefs and at 21 I started my own business. So more of that!
What’s next? Any new dishes planned for 2019? Very big things planned for next year, bigger steaks, more smoked things, and maybe even some live butchery. Will be a very exciting year.
Yun (David Chou)
Biggest challenge? Trying to get the stall set up right. When we came to the KERB Workshop, KERB gave us a tutorial . We saw what other stalls were setting up. That gave us a sense of what we should prepare. However, later we found every stall the set up could be vary. If you keep developing your menu, like we do, the stall has to develop too – so we’re constantly trying new ways of setting up the stall!
Best moment? When the line queued up. KERB helped our marketing. Their Instagram feed helped us get to our first group of customers. That will definitely help a startup company.
One piece of advice for the new inKERBators? Product Product Product. KERB will handle the location problem, but YOU need to focus on making great food.
Any drastic changes you had to make to your business since starting out? Our menu expanded from 3 to 8 dishes. Customers sometimes tell us: “Please don’t take pickle fish out of your menu, please.” That encourages us to do right thing.
London Smokehouse (Meriam Putros)
Favourite experience you’ve had trading? The reaction I get when I tell my customers I smoke the meat myself. Girl Power!
One piece of advice for the new inKERBators? Don’t worry if you’ve had a bad day. Tomorrow may surprise you.
What’s next? Any new dishes planned for 2019? A BIG REBRAND. And I want to keep that a surprise…
Rice Guys (Andrew Yu, Vanessa Goh, Kea Teo)
One thing you’ve learnt on the inKERBator? We learned how valuable networking and relationships could be in building a new business.
Favourite experience you’ve had trading on your stall? Just being around to talk to customers is always enjoyable for us, and learning what they think about our food to help us grow.
One piece of advice for the new inKERBators? Spend the time and effort to build a strong brand.
What’s next? Any new dishes planned for 2019? We are expecting our second truck early 2019 and looking out for a retail space!
Shelly Belly’s (Joel and Tania)
Best moment on the inKERBator? When a family came by our shop to have dinner before they flew back home after finding us at KERB.
One thing you’ve learnt? To maintain high standards and aim to impress every time. Never take regular customers for granted.
What else would you like to see brought to the streets to keep London street food exciting? We’d like to see more authentic Caribbean dishes on the streets. While Caribbean food is enjoying a boost in popularity, big chains are ruining the reputation for customers who are new to the cuisine. In the Caribbean, some of the most elaborate and delicious dishes are made literally on the back a bike! We want to see the food return to its roots.
The Gnocchi Shop (Jacopo Rigolio)
One piece of advice for the new inKERBators? Choose your teachers carefully. If you are seeking advice on a certain subject, the way to find the most helpful answer is not to collect many opinions about it (both on and off-line) but to ask those who know the most about it. If you are setting up a stall for a fried chicken business, the top chicken fryer will be the no.1 person you have to ask and watch.
Name one person doing something in food right now who you’re excited about for 2019. Gregory Doyen. Check his Insta out.
Who would YOU like to see us inKERBate next year? TURO TURO, a young man does 5 star Filipino food. Trust me on this one.
Palm Greens (Kali Hamm & Memby Jago)
One thing you’ve learnt on the inKERBator? It’s not just about the food & service – there’s a lot more than we realised that goes into making your stall stand out & look appealing too.
What’s next? Any new dishes planned for 2019? We’re starting a residency at Hornbeam cafe in January doing lunch and brunch service & supper clubs. Very excited to be working with ‘Plates’, catering for an expo on sustainable fashion in January too.
Name one person doing something in food right now who you’re excited about for 2019. Salad Prides and their new venture in 2019!
Lord of the Wings (Ben Cook)
One piece of advice for the new inKERBators? Show up, ask questions and smile.
Any drastic changes you had to make to your business since starting out? None that are drastic, but you will inevitably make some changes and tweaks to your stall/layout/menu/food. There are some very subtle things you can do that make a huge difference to the way customers approach your stall.
Name one person doing something in food right now who you’re excited about for 2019. Shout out Tom from Truffle making the best burger on the streets ATM. And big up the chaps at Hanok. 2019 looking good.
Who would YOU like to see us inKERBate next year? Guinea Fowlers should definitely give it a go. Their burger would smash it!
Kottu Lanka (Sujitha Perera)
Biggest challenge on the inKERBator? Big queues caused us big problems from day one and trying to speed things up caused our roti base to be quite stogy. We needed an idea very quickly how we could fix this, as we understood the importance of return footfall. So we changed our dish prep, moving some of the work to the start of the day instead of cooking it all completely on the stall are were able to maintain the quality whilst still keeping with demand.
Best moment? Our first day. Being asked to join the inKERBator before knowing if we would make the cut felt so amazing to be a part of something special. Working in the street food game, you often feel that it’s you against the market manager, constantly having to battle to prove yourself, but when joining the InKERBator and speaking with the market managers there, it genuinely felt like you are part of a wider team. It was like working as one big unit. My view is that this is the reason for the success of KERB.
One piece of advice for the new inKERBators? Keep the quality of your food exceptional and constantly look for reviews and feedback not only from your customers, but also other traders and market managers. Do not get defensive about criticism, take it on board and better yourself and your brand. You can always do things better. Never stop improving and innovating.
What’s next? Any new dishes planned for 2019? I think it will be a shame if we only stick to kottu roti. There are so many other great types of food in Sri Lanka and I would like to start introducing our unique take on this onto our stall. Watch this space.
Little Leaf (Matt Smith)
Best moment on the inKERBator? Selling over 70 pizza’s in two hours at Kings Cross. It’s such a buzz when the demand is so high and you enter a rhythm.
One piece of advice for the new inKERBators? Think long and hard about your product. Will it fit into a street food scenario. Is there a market for it and is it original enough of an idea so you can get into lucrative locations.
Any drastic changes you had to make to your business since starting out? Prepping our food effectively. When I first started I was trading and then prepping every day after a day’s trade which was exhausting, so my advice is to develop systems and stick to them so you can rest. Otherwise, you’ll end up doing a bit here and a bit there every day all week.
Who would YOU like to see us inKERBate next year? Omni Collective. They are a new vegan business and they make fantastic food. Their sweet soy broccoli is unreal! Given the chance I think they could become something very exciting. Also love Greedy Khao who you inKERBated last year. I love everything they do. Bringing food from Thailand and veganising it. It’s never been shown here and they’re the first ones doing it.
Mexikings (Katrice King)
Favourite experience you’ve had trading on your stall? Traders! An amazing community of people, ambitious, hard working, kind and all coming from very different backgrounds, so interesting.
One piece of advice for the new inKERBators? This is a full time undertaking, make sure your ready to commit your time and energy, there is little time off, balance what you say yes to and make sure you have a good team behind you, don’t take it all in yourself, you could burn out.
Any drastic changes you had to make to your business since starting out? Our brand name – it was too similar to an existing trader! But it was a needed change and new name works better commercially. Also the menu! Lunch customers need familiar and accessible food, add a twist to add your USP.
Bombai (Shweta Solanki)
Biggest challenge on the inKERBator? Being first time ever trading, we had generally not anticipated the physical stress associated with setup and close down every time we traded.
One thing you’ve learnt? The power of social media especially when you are not part of that generation!
Favourite experience you’ve had trading? How helpful everyone around you is – all the fellow traders whilst competition are also there to help out if needed.
One piece of advice for the new inKERBators? Think hard when choosing between a gazebo and a van if money or driving isn’t an issue!
Read more about the inKERBator.