We had the pleasure of meeting Richard Brown from BEASTro who gave us an insight into his exciting business and why the North West is the perfect location for startups.
Richard Brown – BEASTro Transcript
What’s your name, position and where do you work?
I’m Richard Brown and I’m one of the directors of BEASTro Unlimited. We have a small restaurant in Spinningfields in Manchester.
Describe your business in one sentence.
I would say that we are a group of passionate individuals, passionate about food, good living, and we create awesome dishes with as locally sourced produce as possible with quite a focus on the meat side of the business.
What separates you from the competition?
I think what separates us from the competition has to be our passion for the product and sourcing. With sourcing every single ingredient, we are very passionate about making sure that we get the best quality that we can possibly get.
There’s three of us in the business and my two business partners are 3rd generation butchers, slaughtermen, so they are amazing at sourcing some of the best meat in the local area, getting beef, pork and chicken from all over but sourcing the best we possibly can.
We’re working closely with local suppliers to make sure that we are getting whatever’s in season as much as possible but of course there’s dishes that necessarily might not be seasonal. But then as much as possible we are using, like I say, the Manchester Veg People are one of our suppliers as well as Noons in getting fresh veg every day from Spitalfields Market.
What have been the highlights of your company so far?
I think the highlight of us as a company is our growth really. I mean, we started together three years ago now, as a small street food operator, literally trading on Manchester markets, events and pop-up things and all that kind of jazz.
And then as we’ve grown, we’ve had loads of different opportunities up until being part of The Kitchens in Spinningfields which was a startup competition incubating six street food traders to have the opportunity to start up over a period of twelve months giving us bricks and mortar and a roof over our heads.
We were very, very, very lucky to be the winners of that competition as of August, and I suppose that’s got to be our biggest highlight, actually being told that we’d won the competition and been given a permanent space in Spinningfields.
So, yeah, we’ve done the very scary thing of signing a very long lease and now let the games begin!
What qualities are needed to succeed in your industry?
Passion. Passion and love for every single thing that you do. If you don’t love what you’re doing, why bother doing it? You might as well go and get a job working for somebody else. I think if you’re going to do your own thing and you’re going to be entrepreneurial and go out there and get it.
You have to be passionate about what you do because there’s nobody telling you you have to be up at 6 o’clock in the morning to go and make bacon butties or whatever it might be in everybody else’s industries. There’s nobody to kick you out of bed, you have to do it yourself. You’ve got to make sure that every single day you hit the ground running and you love what you do. So, yeah, with everything, it’s passion and love.
Why do new businesses choose Manchester?
I think Manchester’s – especially in the last few years, I mean, I’m a Manc myself and very, very proud of it – and I think as a city we’ve kind of shown that we are out there and we are innovating.
You know, to obviously look at what we did obviously with the industrial revolution, we always reflect upon that but actually, we’re creating a new revolution now and we’ve got so many passionate people in so many different industries, no matter whether it be food, fashion, technology. I mean, we’re in Spinningfields with one of the most technologically advanced buildings, the XYZ building being built just across the road from us and it’s just incredible to see Manchester and how it’s grown.
I was away for seven years through travelling and working and university and to come back and see basically a brand new city. And I think everybody is getting onboard with that now, especially from an enterprise and an entrepreneurial point of view, people are really getting behind manchester and it is becoming the second city. You never know, we might become the first city, you never know! But no, I think that’s what makes Manchester so very exciting to be in.
Who are some local companies you would recommend?
Local companies, I mean, within our own industry, we’ve got so many fantastic other restaurants that are within the city. I mean, just around us alone, there’s always new things opening constantly.
One of my favourite sort of local places to go and eat is My Thai on John Dalton Street. I think the guys behind that are doing an amazing job of growing an incredible business, really, and doing some really interesting things. The boys at Grand Smith are doing a great job and they’re growing throughout the city as well, local lads that have taken an opportunity to open numerous different places.
And obviously, our friends from The Kitchen, The Hip Hop Chip Shop who have just launched at Cosmonaut and they’re doing pub take-overs and taking over the whole restaurant space and there and they are doing an incredible job of extending the menu and doing some really interesting things so, for me, those are the really interesting people in food in Manchester.
There’s also lots of other people doing incredible things as well throughout the city. I think it is every corner, you see new and interesting innovative ideas.
Who do you think are the most influential people in the local business scene?
Who is an influential business person? I would like to say that one of our closest friends in the business, Mike Ingall from Allied London. He is a good friend of our business, obviously, he’s given us the platform, the opportunity to go from street food traders to having an actual restaurant space.
So I feel that what he’s doing, his vision for Allied London properties are taking over the London Road Fire Station, XYZ and St John’s projects are all just incredible projects and have got Manchester very excited and I’m excited to see what else he has to offer. You know, having those people, him and also Chris Reay, who is his estate manager for Spinningfields, I think, you know, some really interesting people.
But there’s just so many, too many to really answer. You know you’ve got small, small businesses that have got incredible people behind them. One of our very good friends, Chris Townsend, has just started his own digital marketing agency as part of Invasion. They’re doing an incredible job of actually promoting and marketing us as a business as well and giving us opportunities that we wouldn’t be able to afford if we were sort of having to go to the big boys so, yeah, I think there’s some really interesting people in and around Manchester.
Do you have any advice for new businesses in Manchester?
I think my biggest piece of advice was don’t be scared of doing it. To coin a term ‘screw it just do it’, and I think it’s very, very true, especially when I was first starting up, prior to me meeting my two business partners. I was going to a lot of these startup seminars, business startup programmes, doing these online courses, all sorts of things.
Yes they’re great, and it’s very very important to have a plan and an idea, but don’t be scared of actually starting it, don’t be in fear of going, ‘oh God! Do I need to get that? And do I need to get that? And do I need to get that sorted?’ Just, you know, give it a go at the end of the day. No-one’s going to blame you for trying. As long as you’ve got whatever insurances or paperwork or documentation you need to start it. Give it a go, the worst that can happen is that you have to alter what you’re doing and try again.
What’s the main benefit of working in Manchester?
The main benefit of working in Manchester than most cities – obviously, we always look to, I tend to find people look to London as other city to sort of reflect upon of what they do. I think the biggest benefit of being in Manchester is the fact that it’s small. It’s much much smaller than the capital and by that it means that you’ve got access to so many more minds, so many more brains, so many more ideas and so many other people’s opinions but you’ve got access to a lot quicker than you would if say you were in London.
You know, we get feedback on things very quickly, especially from our clientele and our customers, but I can also access some fairly interesting and influential people very very quickly and ask their opinion as well. Within hospitality, a good friend of ours, is Thom Hetherington who organises the Northern Restaurant Bar show. I can pick up a phone to him and say, ‘I’ve got this great idea, what do you think of it?’ and get a feedback straight away.
Somebody of his influence in London, you know, you’d be going to four or five other people to be able to get to them. I think that’s an incredible thing about Manchester, is it’s size and size matters when it comes to business and I think, yes okay if you’re trying to grow on a global platform, then there’s obviously benefits to being in London, but I think that, especially for our industry and for our business, it’s fantastic to have everybody so close.
Where are your favourite places to eat and drink in Manchester?
So from an eating point of view, I think the guys at Squid Ink are doing an incredible job. I was lucky enough to try their five course menu when they were first launching and the stuff they’re doing over there, from an independent point of view, is absolutely incredible, it’s so reasonably priced but then also, the quality of service and the whole experience they have on offer is absolutely incredible.
I would also like to put a shout out there for all the guys at Rudy’s Pizza, because what they do is also incredible I would say it is another one of my favourite places to eat but it’s a little bit more casual and a little more less fine dine more casual dining but they do an absolutely incredible job, the guys there.
And I think from a drinking point of view, I’m quite simple when it comes to drinking, I just like a nice environment, so for me at the bar in El Gato Negro is a fantastic experience the guys treat you, they treat everybody like a king and, you know, for me, I’m heaven when I’ve got a nice glass of red and a beautiful meat platter and they do that really well.
Have you got any final words?
For me, Manchester’s an incredible place to be. We are very, very lucky to be surrounded by some incredible people and I just want to see more and more people doing their own thing. Having independence in the city, I think is exactly where we should be going and having more people packing in their day job and doing what makes them happy because there’s nothing better than going to a place where you can see – whether it’s an office based space or a restaurant or a bar or a creative space like an art gallery – where you’re seeing people who really, really love what they do and I hope anyone who joins us at BEASTro sees that from us.
Thank you for watching. I’m Richard Brown from BEASTro in Manchester and this was huddled.