£45k cash boost for entrepreneur
A young West Lothian entrepreneur has gained a £45,000 cash boost for her business.
Lauren Leisk, a young business graduate from Queen Margaret University, is one of only 20 entrepreneurs selected as an Royal Society of Edinburgh Unlocking Ambition Enterprise Fellow.
The initiative is supporting high-potential entrepreneurs to start up their businesses in Scotland, and will assist Lauren with bespoke advice, grant funding and business development support to take her specialist food company, Fodilicious, to the next level.
Having discovered a gap in the market for fresh, healthy convenience foods suitable for people coping with various digestive disorders, 24- year- old Lauren has been sweeping the board in several national entrepreneurial competitions taking place this summer. However, it is the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Unlocking Ambition initiative, backed by Scotland’s First Minister, which is the most significant for the young entrepreneur.
Although Lauren had experienced some IBS issues in her teens, by the age of 20 she could no longer ignore them. As a business student at QMU, juggling study and work, she had an increasingly busy lifestyle. Often eating on the go, her symptoms of discomfort, pain and bloating intensified and despite her best efforts, she struggled to find readily available food products suitable for her condition as most were full of additives and preservatives.
However, Lauren decided to turn a negative to a positive. She used her personal experience and her business skills to set up Fodilicious - plugging the gap for tasty, nutritional foods and freshly prepared meals for people with IBS.
Lauren explained: “After years of struggling with IBS, I discovered the low FODMAP diet which eliminates all trigger foods that can set off IBS symptoms. Despite the word ‘diet’, a low FODMAP approach is not focused on weight loss – instead it limits foods high in a group of sugars called FODMAPs that have been shown to aggravate the gut, and therefore eases symptoms associated with IBS such as bloating, pain and gas. I decided to prepare recipes substituting normal ingredients for low FODMAP alternatives, and the results were fantastic.”
In September 2017, Lauren created Fodilicious, an innovative and UK exclusive food manufacturing business providing convenient, healthy meal options following the low FODMAP diet, (IBS-friendly). The products are also gluten- free and dairyfree, and cover a range of special dietary requirements.
Lauren, who has based her company in her home town of Livingston, said: “I’ve been working with experts at QMU on a new product range and I am a tenant of the University’s Business Innovation Zone (BIZ) which offers QMU graduate entrepreneurs access to free space and business support via Business Gateway, as well as networking and funding opportunities. This is an important university service which provides useful facilities and guidance to new graduates during the early stages of their business development.”
Miriam Smith, business development manager at Queen Margaret University, said: “QMU has been delighted to see Lauren making such an impact in Scotland’s entrepreneurial ecosytem and winning several thousand pounds to support her future business development. She was amongst 20 winning entrepreneurs announced today by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, which means that she will now benefit from a 12- month cutting- edge company start-up programme.”
QMU has been delighted to see Lauren making such an impact
Funding secured Lauren received a grant