Raw, gluten-free, dairy-free, grainless, vegan and paleo ingredients might sound like a recipe for cardboard, but they are behind one of the State’s best start-ups and a new food culture.

Rawesome, which manufactures healthy sweet treats, is the winner of the WA’s Best New Start-up in the Telstra WA Australian Business Awards, and a swag of others.

Founder Laila Gampfer created the business after becoming fed up with the tasteless and unhealthy range of gluten-free foods on the market that catered to her recently-discovered coeliac’s disease.

Starting with a market stall three years ago, it has developed into a $1 million-a-year business with 16 staff, contracts to export interstate and negotiations for international sales.

As with many entrepreneurs, her success was due partly to an ability to quickly recognise the emerging food trend, as well as helping to drive it further.

Efforts to this end include educating the public about the nutritional benefits of the movement — one raw superfood at a time.

“I was aware of the rapidly growing raw food movement and paleo movement, and found my products met the requirements of those with food intolerances, ” she says.

“The opportunity was there; it was a case of the right time, right place. The general public have recognised the correlation between what they eat and how they feel.

“This is more apparent today due to a modern diet of processed foods filled with harmful additives. We know when we eat well, we feel well.”

Ms Gampfer holds regular workshops, seminars and food demonstrations in the corporate, education and private sectors to discuss the raw food phenomenon.

She says WA is the national leader of the culinary movement, with restaurants like The Raw Food Kitchen in Fremantle paving the way.

“Raw Food is not a new concept, it has been around since the 70s and earlier, ” she says. “While there was a “mung-bean myth” that surrounded the raw food movement in its earlier days, the idea that raw food is about mung beans, carrot sticks and celery sticks has been challenged.

“We now have easy access to nourishing, nutrient-rich ingredients and with a commitment to great health and creativity, we are able to make raw food delicious, appetising and exciting. The momentum of the raw food movement is building. This is a sign of our new food culture. Those that consider this a fad, will see in time our food culture is changing and has a much healthier and brighter future.”

Evidence of her success in tapping into the mainstream is that her treats now sell through Miss Mauds, one of WA’s oldest restaurant chains, and dozens of other venues.

While Ms Gampfer’s passion for healthy food is all-important point of difference, which business consultants claim is a crucial edge over any competitor, growing her business required some good old-fashioned slog.

In the early days she worked 12 to 20 hours a day, seven days a week, though this has dropped to eight to 12 hours a day.

“Rapid expansion was the biggest challenge Rawsome faced and overcame in its start up, ” she says.

“Ensuring production and supply were uninterrupted during its rapid growth phase were paramount.”

She advises other start-ups to establish strong relationships with suppliers, and to call on experts to help set up proper business systems rather than attempting to everything alone.


© The West Australian

More Small Business news: smallbusiness.yahoo.com/