Charlie Jones’ company, Kitchup, lets kitchens rent out their facilities when they’re not being used. He decided to set up the platform after discovering how hard it is for budding food startups to find their own space.
Episode 1: Kitchup
When Charlie Jones launched Kitchup, a company that connects commercial kitchen space with food businesses looking to rent it, he had solid market research to draw upon.
‘I’d been working for a government scheme that provides mentoring and loans to new businesses,’ Charlie says. ‘I’d seen a huge amount of food startups coming through and one of the biggest problems they had was finding kitchen space.’ With many food businesses only using their facilities at certain times of the day or week, Charlie saw an opportunity to introduce commercial food production to the sharing economy.
He took out a £5,000 personal loan and launched a website in September 2015, with five kitchens on his books. ‘We had a flood of enquiries almost from the off,’ he says. By March, Charlie had enough confidence in Kitchup’s potential to quit his day job. Early this year, his twin sister Emma Jones joined him.
The pair are now looking into funding in order to further scale their business. ‘We need to take things to the next level,’ says Charlie. ‘Our priority is to improve our technical platform so we can automate some of our processes – at the moment it’s very labour intensive.’ With Kitchup fielding enquiries for its service from cities across the UK and Europe, expanding into other territories is a long-term priority, ‘once we’ve got London perfected’.
‘If I had my time again, one thing I would have done earlier is act on the feedback I was given to have someone else come on board,’ says Charlie. ‘Since Emma has joined we’ve done more in the last three months than I had done in the last six. Having another person is just so valuable on so many different levels.’