Coffee founder crowned at House of Commons ceremony

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Entrepreneurship

Pact Coffee, a coffee subscription service, helps consumers find coffee blends that match their tastes
Pact Coffee, a coffee subscription service, helps consumers find coffee blends that match their tastes
Pact Coffee founder Stephen Rapoport scooped the crown at the first Investec Food & Drink Entrepreneur of the Year awards, held at the House of Commons last week.

Rapoport claimed the accolade at an evening reception on November 6. The event was packed with some of the greatest names of the British food and drink scene.

They included judges Julian Metcalfe, co-founder of Prêt à Manger, Cobra Beer founder Lord Bilimoria, Chantal Coady, founder of Rococo Chocolate and Sam Parker, founder of Business is GREAT Britain.

The awards were launched by The Food Awards Company and partnered with the Business is GREAT Britain campaign, to showcase innovation in the sector and to celebrate the people behind the brands.

Outstanding field

The awards organisers praised an outstanding field of hundreds of entrants, ranging from Simon Smith, founder and md of The Saucy Fish Company to Jenny Dawson, founder of Rubies in the Rubble.

But it was Rapoport who walked off with the trophy and presented with a cheque for £5,000 by entrepreneur Luke Johnson, the man behind Pizza Express, Patisserie Valerie and Feng Sushi.

Founded by Rapoport in 2011, Pact is a coffee subscription service with a difference, helping afficionados and explorers to find fresher, better-tasting coffee, matched to their tastes and style of coffee drinking.

Using a simple online questionnaire, customer preferences are quickly established while preserving the flexibility to adapt the service to suit changing needs.

After selling his start up Crashpadders to Airbnb, Rapoport finally followed his wife’s advice to “stop thinking like an investor and launch a business you will love”​.

He set up Pact with backing from Connect Ventures; Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder of TransferWise and number one employee at Skype; Robin Klein, partner at Index Ventures; and Rowan Gormley, founder of Naked Wines.

Increased operating profit

Starting in his kitchen, sealing coffee bags with hair straighteners, in just two years, Rapoport has taken Pact from an eight-person operation to a business with 35 staff. He also increased operating profit by a factor of 30 and showed no signs of slowing down, said the award organisers.

The judges praised Rapoport “for genuinely differentiating in a crowded market place and having the courage to try something that hasn't been done before”​.

He was also commended for “having the insight to hook onto the coffee consumption trend with a value-added and truly innovative route to market enabling different marketing channels to be explored”.

James Stirling, partner, Investec Growth & Acquisition Finance, told Rapoport: “As a bank that is not afraid to be out of the ordinary, Investec shares your entrepreneurial spirit.”

“We are delighted to be sponsoring these awards which celebrate entrepreneurialism in the food and drink sectors. Britain has a rich heritage in producing world–beaters in this industry, and it really looks like that tradition is alive and well.”

The UK food and drink industry is worth £92bn annually and employs more than 400,000 people, with exports at more than £18bn and rising.

Food Manufacture Group’s own Food Manufacturing Excellence Awards 2014 are taking place at London’s Hilton Hotel, Park Lane, on November 20. For further information, and to book a table, visit the awards website​.

Related topics: Drinks

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