Charismatic entrepreneur, Levi Roots, joined Pearson Business School students this week, to tell them about his own journey, from pitching to Dragons in the Den, to opening his own “Rastaraunt”.
The British-Jamaican entrepreneur and founder of Reggae Reggae Foods Ltd, Levi Roots, opened his talk at Pearson Business School, with a whistle-stop tour of his journey from Dragon’s Den to present day. It was a great and inspiring tale of triumph over adversity and entrepreneurship; he spoke of his appearance on series 4 of the hit show Dragon’s Den in 2007, where he received £50,000 investment, from Dragon investors Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh, in return for a 40% equity stake in his business.
The talk was part of the ongoing programme during the inaugural Pearson Business School Careers Festival, a week-long series of events, giving students an opportunity to network and learn from real-life entrepreneurs, businesses and other influential speakers.
Roots, offered our students a series of tips based on his own personal experiences, he spoke of the need to present yourself well, "I call it fixing up yourself, get those moments right, real business starts with you, you need to get yourself ready for business." His other words of advice included “pay attention to the legal stuff, don’t be afraid to spend money on legal, licensing and your products”, a few crucial top tips that he was more than happy to share with our astute business students.
He also spoke of the need to build a great team over time, as “business is all about having a successful team”; he talked about the need to invest in marketing, so the product is discoverable, how it’s vital to know your market and audience and the need to ensure that any business "always remembers to keep the integrity of [the] brand". When asked if the product could sell itself, he offered advice based on his own experience “I brought the razzmatazz, but you still need a good product”.
One student asked whether his first taste of business was driven by profit or passion, he gave a very honest answer: “music inspired me more than food, and I’m an honest man, so I’d say it was profit-led first and then the passion came later”.
The now infamous Reggae Reggae sauce range can be found in all the major UK supermarkets and has even been expanded, to cover chilled ready meals, pasties and soft drinks. Roots admitted that part of the secret to his meteoric success, is down to his licensing model, which also incorporates a series of cookbooks, an autobiography, a cookery show on the BBC, his own food festival and a new restaurant, the Caribbean Smokehouse in London’s Westfield shopping centre (cleverly dubbed ‘rastaraunt’). It’s part of his longer term plan to launch a chain of global restaurants, 35 in total, over the next 7 years. “It's about long term thinking”, he told our students, and we have to agree!
Roots closed his talk with the tale of a football match against Bob Marley and the Wailers, he recalled how Bob Marley’s music inspired him at the start of his journey and helped to inspire the launch of his brand. It just goes to show that every entrepreneur has that moment, an experience, or person that inspired them to someday become an entrepreneur, perhaps for our students, Levi Roots could be that person.
Budding entrepreneur? Take a look at our (BA Hons) Business Management and Entrepreneurship programme, or our range of Pearson Business School undergraduate programmes.
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We're transforming higher education. As a FTSE 100 company, immersed in industry, we do things differently. Industry engagement is at the core of everything that we do, and it’s what sets us apart.
We offer all full-time degree students guaranteed internships*, so they gain experience during their studies. Our degree apprentices also get to work within a company throughout their studies, so they gain valuable experience, learning on the job. We help our students to build their own professional networks; they’re taught by well-connected industry experts, and they get to make contacts at industry workshops led by some of the world’s most reputable organisations. We work with industry giants from Unilever, L’Oreal, and Sony Pictures, to WPP, Lloyds of London and IBM. Alongside their academic studies, it’s the experiences like these that help our students to develop the knowledge and skills they’ll need to succeed, as well as inspire them, so they have the drive and ambition to get ahead.
Our students are enterprising and entrepreneurial. They get to work with our in-house business incubator FindOutFresher, and many have set up their own companies too, like Kickpush and Yaantu and even social enterprises like Once Upon a Doug.
Our alumni have gone on to work for brands such as Nestle, Sainsbury’s, Microsoft, Dyson, Not on the High Street, the BBC, Snapchat, Wincanton and General Mills.
Industry engagement drives us; it’s not just what we do, it’s who we are. And it is what will take us, and our students, into the future.
*subject to academic performance