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Gloucestershire Business News

Entrepreneur to advise farming and food businesses

A Gloucestershire-based entrepreneur is looking to help farming and food businesses, from a centre in Cirencester, following his own multi-million pound successes.

Ben Jones, an advisor to the Farm491 incubation hub - which is owned by and based at the Royal Agricultural University at Cirencester - is helping agrifood technology start-ups to think differently about the products and service models for the future of agriculture.

Together with a close-knit group of friends, Ben founded, built and then sold two highly successful businesses, for a total of £250m, to Unilever and Nestle. Since moving to his base in Gloucestershire from London, he has been keen to support the huge potential that he sees for start-ups in the farming and food sector.

The two businesses that Ben founded filled niche gaps - the healthy snack company, Graze and a bespoke dog food business, Tails.

He said: "Things that have been important to us in founding our own businesses have been staying curious and embracing naivety.

"When we started Graze, we had no experience in food, but saw a gap in the healthy snack market which, at the time, was dominated by 'tricksy' marketing of 'healthy' snacks that were laden with sugar.

"For Tails, a chance insight from an animal nutritionist sparked the business idea, which was that from a variety of basic kibble recipes, we could feed every dog in the UK, whatever their dietary need."

He believes the factors that have made his own start-ups succeed will be crucial for tech companies competing for market position and funding.

He describes his business partnership as an alchemy between friends who are still exactly the same as they were when they were youngsters at school.

Ben's experience to date will give members of the Farm491 community advice on how to gear a business to market needs, to clearly define their offer and to raise adequate finance for the phases of growth.

Ahead of a series of sessions with Ben Jones for Farm491 members, the incubation hub is welcoming new members who'd like to get involved with these online events.

Membership levels vary and give businesses access to the facilities at the newly built Farm491 hub, business support and introductions to investors, as well as hot-desking and resident business status. Membership costs start at £80/month.

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