How I Got Here Jeremy Ford-Young

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

How I Got Here Jeremy Ford-Young co-founder of plant-based fast-food brand BVRGER

Related tags: Plant-based, Burger, Casual dining, Fast food, R200, Multi-site, Vegan

The co-founder of plant-based fast-food brand BVRGER, which launched in 2020 and now has two sites in the capital, on building his business in the midst of the pandemic.

Why restaurants?
For as long as I can remember it has always been something I wanted to do, it’s just taken me a little longer than expected.

Tell us something you wish you had been told at the start of your career?
Control what you can control - in other words, focus only on the things you can influence directly, don’t give time and energy to the things you can’t. And find a good mentor as early as you can.

What’s your favourite restaurant or group of restaurants?
There are many. I think Patty & Bun and Honest Burger have built excellent businesses. Pizza Pilgrims is also a favourite.

What motivates you?
I love building businesses from the ground up. BVRGER is particularly meaningful project to me as I see it as real opportunity to influence consumer behaviour in a sustainable way.

What keeps you up at night?
My two young children, mostly! From a business perspective, there are many components to a food business and there are always numerous issues that require urgent attention. When you run a young company everything washes over you. We are currently going through a funding round at BVRGER which is exciting but hugely consuming. The trading climate over the last few years has been enormously challenging for obvious reasons - particularly from a staffing and supplier perspective - however, I believe a poor economic climate is often the best time to start a business. Choosing to launch in a pandemic has most definitely made the company and our people stronger not weaker.

Which colleague, mentor or employer has had the biggest influence on your approach to the restaurant business?
I have been fortunate to have a few, from varied backgrounds and sectors – all have influenced my approach to operating this business and I am still learning all the time. Vanessa Hall (ex CEO Yo Sushi/Vapiano) has been hugely helpful as an advisor to BVRGER, as has Loui Blake. Hospitality is by far the most collaborative and friendly industry I have worked in. I have found that most people are willing to give up their time to help if asked. And I tend to ask a lot!

What time do you wake up?
Alarm is set for 6.30am, but I usually wake up a few times throughout the night thanks to my kids.

Coffee or tea?
Both. I drink far too much caffeine.

How often do you check your email?
Constantly as I have three email accounts, but I shut them down completely if I need to work on something without distraction. All notifications on my phone are turned off which I recommend for retaining a vague level of sanity.

How do you let off steam?
Getting outdoors. I’ve done a couple of Ironman competitions in Mallorca and Barcelona, and in September will be climbing the second highest mountain in the Alps with some mates - Monte Rosa, which stands at 4634 meters. The main motivation being a night out in Milan afterwards.

Do you prefer a night on the tiles or a night on the sofa?
Night on the tiles followed by a night on the sofa.

What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?
The highest commercial bungee jump in the world - in Plettenberg Bay South Africa – you jump from an enormous bridge 216 meters above the Bloukrans River. It’s so high you can barely see river below but the guys do a very good job of pumping you up before you jump and if you freeze they give you a gentle 'nudge'.

Favourite holiday destination?
Capetown.

What boxset are you currently watching?
Just finished Anatomy of a Scandal​ and currently watching series six of Billions.

Best business decision?
The decision to go into business with Paul Brothers, my business partner. We have different personalities and skill sets but work well together and are almost always in agreement on big decisions.

Worst business decision?
Agreeing a lease on a very large office with a previous business that we thought the company would 'grow into' – it never did and put the business under unnecessary pressure.

What piece of advice would you give to those looking to climb the rungs in the business?
Years ago a famous 'dragon' once explained to me his views on the power of taking total ownership over your decisions; having a personal story and being able to tell that story well. That has always resonated with me. Having owned a professional services business in the past, I have always valued the power of relationships and face to face communication. Nowadays it is very easy to choose to communicate only via instant messaging technology. Whilst this is efficient and can be very useful, it is nonetheless a lazy way of communicating and often leads to miscommunication and misinterpretation. Strong relationships are at the heart of all successful businesses and I think it is easy to forget that nowadays.

If you could change one thing about the restaurant industry today, what would it be?
Discount culture.

Bio

Born in Hampshire, Ford-Young studied Politics at Newcastle University. An accomplished entrepreneur, he started his career at Hydrogen Group in the City 2006 before going on to found global technology search firm Atherton Stone, which sold in 2019. He founded BVRGER in 2020 with business partner Paul Brothers. Earlier this year, BVRGER launched its second London outpost in Spitalfields, which it operates alongside a site in Kensington. Ford-Young has also run investment company JFY Capital since 2015.

Related topics: People, Profiles, Casual Dining

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