Two years ago, Rushd Khan, owner of Barakah Eats, was ready to expand his business, so he applied to participate in Pitch & Plate, a business-changing opportunity that connects institutional food service buyers to B.C. food and beverage business owners.
Barakah Eats was doing everything right: engaging branding; compliant packaging; dialed-in product line of gourmet, ready-to-eat South Asian-influenced meals; and they were selling in farmers markets and retail stores. The checklist was complete for an excellent Pitch & Plate participant. Good to Grow was thrilled to have Rushd and Barakah Eats as a participant at our November 2021 Pitch & Plate event.
Two years later, as we prepare for our upcoming 6th and 7th Pitch & Plate events, we connected with Rushd to find out how Pitch & Plate changed the game for Barakah Eats and what kind of impact it has had on their growing business.
You participated with great success in the November 2021 Pitch & Plate event, securing 3 distributors and 15 listings within 6 months of the event, including University of British Columbia and Vancouver Island University. Let’s follow up on that success: how have opportunities from Pitch & Plate continued to unfold for you?
RK: “One of our biggest wins from Pitch & Plate was our connection to Ryan Vending and Canteen Canada. Our pitch resulted in a lot of interest and opportunities in the vending and micro market industry. Organizations such as Amazon, Lululemon, and Canada Post were seeking to expand their in-house offerings for staff. To cater to the needs of this industry, we developed ready to eat single-serve microwavable meals. The convenience of these meals allowed us to target a whole new industry. The launch of this new line of products later cascaded into an opportunity to pitch to 7 Eleven. 7 Eleven saw our new line of products as a great fit for their stores and now they carry our products in over 200 locations across B.C.
Gordon Food Services (GFS) supported us as we onboarded with Vancouver Island University to make our entrance into institutional food service, and again GFS has recently introduced us to a potential contract with Fraser Heath to bring our products to the healthcare industry. GFS is a connection I was introduced to at Pitch & Plate.”
How did Pitch & Plate and the opportunity to sell in institutional food service elevate your business?
RK: “Pitch & Plate introduced me to many post-secondary contacts and helped me gain traction in the institutional food service channel. These connections and opportunities for business innovation continue to open other doors for us. I’ve learned that frozen food is a challenge logistically for the institutions, so it’s been a slower process to get into more post-secondary institutions. Timing can also be critical. Outside of food service, our retail opportunities have grown exponentially since then and we are now listed in almost 500 stores and counting.”
What would you tell a B.C. food and beverage business considering applying for Pitch & Plate? Feel free to share any advice, too!
RK: “I highly recommend applying for Pitch & Plate. It is a great opportunity to meet and pitch your products to key players in the institutional food service industry. My advice is to come prepared.
Make sure that you tell your story and share why you do what you do. Your job is to explain why your product could be a great fit in this segment. It is critical that your audience understands the benefits of your product and can see how it can be a great fit in their institution. Also, make sure to have an open mind and be ready for feedback and suggestions. Sometimes as founders we get so attached to our product that we only envision it being presented in a single way. This pitch could result in you learning from the audience on new ideas for your product line.”
Ready for your business-changing pitch opportunity? Apply to participate in upcoming Pitch & Plate events:
Pitch & Plate | November 23, 2023
An online event to highlight products from B.C.’s Okanagan region ready to sell to post-secondary or healthcare institutions. Buyers from across B.C. are invited to attend.
Applications close: Monday, October 9, 2023 | Apply now!
Pitch & Plate | February 7, 2024
A hybrid in-person/online event in the Lower Mainland to highlight products from around the province ready to sell to B.C. post-secondary and healthcare institutions. All pitches are required to be in-person.
Applications close: Friday, November 3, 2023 | Apply now!