Diary of a start-up - Safetray makes its Festival debut
My nails dramatically decreased in size during the month of July. I nervously nibbled as I awaited the first production units arriving from China, desperate for Safetray to play its own part in the largest arts festival in the world - a showcase in front of an international audience within my beloved hometown during Edinburgh's multiple festivals.
Leading up to the arrival I had been fed worrying snippets of information regarding the progress with the mould tool. The initial photographs were kept from me - Fearsomengine quite rightly deciding that a snapshot image of a mangled piece of plastic might be more upsetting than informative - and so it was a relief indeed to finally see (a fortnight ago) a physical embodiment of the Safetray looking actually rather handsome.
And so it was, at a stall in the glorious sunshine at Edinburgh's Foodies Festival in Holyrood Park, the very first Safetrays - hot off our production tool - were let loose on the general public; and what a reaction we received.
The most common reaction from people was the suggestion that we should go on Dragons' Den; the second was one of surprise that nobody had ever thought of it before.
A new reaction - limited to a handful of people, exclusively Scottish - was that Safetray is 'cheating'. A remnant of our Calvinist past, I imagine: if it makes our lives easier, it must be immoral. Curiously, I quite liked that perspective. Maybe it's the Calvinist Scot in me welcoming criticism.
The majority were overwhelmingly supportive and excited by the concept - especially those who were hospitality professionals. Our pre-order book was bulging by the end of the weekend, filled with trade buyers and consumers alike. With a few amendments to be made and our first substantial volume of the Safetrays only arriving in October, I was just sorry that we were not able to sell them on the spot.
An added bonus to Foodies was the amount of people who entered our competition: 'Should have used a Safetray'. The task? To be filmed recounting a tale of an accident involving a toppled tray. The prize for the most spectacular story was a bottle of Pol Roger Champagne, the winner of which is to be announced when we launch our retailing website with video-embeds via YouTube.
Over thirty people told us their stories. There were stories of A-list celebrities with food in their laps; a girl so fresh from a coffee spill accident that she was still wearing the bandages; red wine over a white shirt at a restaurant opening and an accident involving a customer being set alight with a toppled tray of flaming Sambucas. Yowzers.
We chose The Famous Spiegeltent to be the first venue to use the Safetrays in situ. One of only handful of its kind left in the world, this stunningly beautiful mirrored tent seemed a fantastic launch pad for our trays. Amidst acrobats hanging from ropes, strong men flinging scantily-clad ladies, jazz chanteuses singing their delicate standards and magicians turning doves into ducks, the Safetray made its own seemingly gravity-defying debut.
Glasshouse Events, who this year manage the bars in the Spiegel Garden, also work on the Golf Open, the Six Nations Rugby and The Grand National. It's exciting to think of the all events at which the trusty Safetray might be acting as a silent partner in service in the not too distant future.
Our final involvement in what has been a fantastic Edinburgh Festival for us was as finalists in the International Marketing Festival's Brands of the Future competition which took place at the Assembly @ Assembly Hall on the Mound.
I had felt slightly guilty asking friends and family along to what I thought would be a tedious morning of dry business presentations filled with cashflow sheets and buzz words from a bunch of poker-faced suits - not exactly a typical Fringe experience. It was, however, unexpectedly entertaining.
I found myself feeling utterly humbled onstage beside some truly inspirational Scottish businesses: the brilliant language website for children, GrowStoryGrow; fabulous tea house, Loopy Lorna's; parental godsend, Labels4Kids; the super-sexy bikers dream, Dakota Motorcycles; and, ultimate winners, the stylishly ethical Blue Marmalade.
Hosted by the personable and effortlessly funny Simon Fanshawe, the panel of judges included Bill Jamieson, Executive Editor of The Scotsman, and Graham Birse, deputy chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce.
It's easy to forget, when working so much of the time on my own, speaking to Fearsomengine mainly by phone, trying to fit more tasks into a day than I ever felt possible, that there are other ambitious (AKA completely stark raving bonkers) business men and women out there taking similar risks, becoming familiar with the same small hours and writing their own updated business plan and forecast for the forty billionth time.
And it's also easy to forget, in the middle of a festival famous for celebrating creative talent from all over the world, that we've got no small amount of talent and spirit right here on our very own doorstep.
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