So Ahmed, can you give us a little colour about who you are and how Dine came about?
I started Dine as a way to find new and exciting places to eat and drink in Birmingham; it began as a personal, online project but grew to include hosting live events and eventually became a full time business. My background is digital marketing and PR, which is really useful with Dine because I am using the same techniques to engage with consumers and produce quality content as I used previously. It also means I have experience with identifying and targeting the audience for business. Really, it helps me build the ‘foodie’ community, delivering what they want and bringing them together with local businesses and venues.
What has the Dine journey looked like so far?
In 2014, we registered as a company and hosted Birmingham Independent Food Fair, focused on showcasing local produce and street food vendors. 2015 was all about securing advertising partnerships that enabled Dine to become a viable commercial business. We ran another successful event in 2016, the Birmingham Rum Festival which we will look to continue running in the future. In fact, we’ve just released tickets for Birmingham Rum Festival 2017 and our first ticket release sold out within an hour. Also in 2016, we implemented a complete overhaul of our website, making it more user-friendly for consumers and allowing businesses to submit content and manage their own online profiles.
And where do you see Dine going?
I see Dine helping people find the best food and drink experiences in every UK city…and beyond!
As our newly elected food and drink expert, are there any food/drink trends we should be looking out for?
Interesting question… I think there seems to be a real trend towards Indian street food, curries are out and Indian street snacks like chaat are very much on trend. But if you look at London and the south east, Bao buns are really popular; they’re basically a steamed, stuffed Chinese bun. Rum is the new Gin, I’m not saying Gin is dead, but Rum will start to get its fair share of the limelight very soon. We’re already seeing that with new rum bars and events popping up. People are increasingly seeking out new food and drink experiences, and want to get to know the story behind quality products and places. Dine is for those people.
You’ve only just arrived at the Lab, how have you found your first week?
Fascinating and welcoming. It’s been great to talk to so many different people doing such amazing things, ranging from using VR to help the visually impaired see to a new music platform for undiscovered artists. There’s a lot of energy here and I know it will be a great springboard for the growth of Dine as a brand and a company. And I can’t miss out the canteen food, definitely 5 stars from me!