Meet James – Esc investor, marketing escapee, artisan food entrepreneur!

[Note from Rob: Building a business is hard. Sometimes you forget what drove you to start it in the first place. Hearing from James reminded me exactly why we’re building Escape the City. The guys met via a ‘connection’ posted on our site… and now they’re launching Epicora together. Please go sign up to their newsletter and buy one of their foodie boxes when they launch!]

Over to James and the story of Esc and Epicora

I slowly worked my way up the corporate ladder over the past 15 years,  and built a successful career in marketing strategy and data.  Despite this I suffered itchy feet syndrome for years, and had long harboured ambitions to start my own business.  I did a good job of burying my desire to break out of corporate life for a number of years, but to no avail – the urge grew stronger and stronger and I knew I had to face up to reality.  My first port of call was to establish whether I had gone mad, after all I was surrounded by people who seemingly didn’t appear to share my jaded view of corporate existence.

Then during a late night trawl of the Internet I chanced upon Escape the City and I had my light bulb moment.  There were lots of others just like me, and many were doing amazing things with their lives, and building great start ups.

So I bit the bullet and posted a rather woolly worded connection on the site asking if there was anyone else out there like me who fancied setting something up. It was literally that straightforward. At the time I had an idea to set up a business helping start ups establish themselves.  I had a good few replies, but one stood out from a chap called Simon Dunn.

It turned out we had worked in a similar industry (retail) and were at similar points in our lives – both of us knew it was time to work for ourselves, both had families to support, and had complementary skill sets.  We also discovered a shared passion for food and retail – and it was from here that the seed for our start up was sown.

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8 months later we are just about to launch an exciting venture (check out our interim site www.epicora.com while we build the main platform). Epicora is a unique online retailer, which brings customers the best artisan food made by small Producers and start ups.  We make this available through a dynamic food hall, artisan food boxes, and a showcase where we champion really special start ups and Producers.

Epicora helps foodies get their hands on great produce that can be hard to find (certainly not in a supermarket), but also helps small Producers meet their customers and develop their businesses.  Epicora will also bring Foodies and Producers together through a Forum, so that they can mingle and discuss all things artisan!

If it hadn’t been for that late night discovery of Esc, then we wouldn’t be where we are now.  It is an incredible way for like minded people to meet – and to borrow Esc’s mantra – do something different!




If you want to receive new Escape the City blog posts directly into your inbox just click here. We write about leaving big corporates, pursuing alternative careers, building businesses, and going on big adventures. We are hard at work over on the main site building Escape Profiles that help people make big career changes and find jobs that matter to them.

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www.escapethecity.org – Do Something Different!

  • Alex

    Great little story! Exactly where on escapethecity was the original notice posted? Would be helpful for other start up entrepreneurs looking to make a connect with like minded individuals..

  • Simon

    Hi Alex – it was on the questions board. I was lucky and happened to see James’ post at the right time, but agree a dedicated space for longer term collaborations would be a great idea. Cheers

  • Emma Tomkinson

    Hi, I love the idea and can’t wait to buy a ‘best in market’. I love that you’re using small producers, but I’d like to see some information on prices paid to them for their produce i.e. in line with fairtrade ideals. I don’t want to know the exact prices, but that I’m paying to sustain and grow these producers in contrast to when I shop at Tesco.

    • James Miller

      Hi Emma, thanks for your message! It’s early days for us, but doing the right thing by our Producers is core to the business. They get a fair price and so do our customers, which means we do not take a huge cut. As the model develops our commitment will become more apparent, but initially we are focusing on giving them a platform to reach a wider market and helping startups reach customers. As we scale we hope to provide a variety of benefits – and certainly far better treatment than the big grocers!
      Thanks, James.