Vegan cheese brand Kinda Co. took first place last week at the Bread & Jam Festival startup competition in London, winning the brand a $33,000 investment, $13,000 for branding, and one year of business mentoring. Kinda Co. founder Ellie Brown pitched her business in front of investors and a hall filled with festival attendees. “I was second to last, and one by one, I watched incredible pitches from companies who were all far more established than me,” Brown wrote on Instagram. “I had none of the impressive numbers or fancy packaging, but I just got up there, laid out some cheese to try, and told them the story of how and why I started Kinda Co.” Brown created dairy-free cheeses such as Garlic and Herb Round, Smoked Paprika Round, Farmhouse Cheese, and Nacho Dip after going vegan and struggling to find plant-based cheese products that satisfied her previous love of dairy cheese. “Winning felt like such validation and recognition for all the hours and days of hard work I’ve put in over the last year to try and grow the business from nothing,” Brown said, “all the while also still working my [full-time] job.” Last year, Brown was targeted by a dairy-industry lobby group that attempted to stop her trademark registry—then marketed as Kinda Cheese—calling the brand “unlawful” and “deceptive,” which forced her to rename the brand Kinda Co.
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