Dan Warne, CEO & Founder of Sessions.

Talk Straight | Think Smart with Dan Warne

Talk Straight | Think Smart with Dan Warne

With a five-year stint as MD of Deliveroo under his belt, Dan Warne has a deep understanding of the food and drink sector. But it's his passion for the music industry that inspired him to reimagine the UK food scene and start his own business, Sessions.

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I wanted to offer consumers a more physical version of that dynamism that you get in the online world, where brands come and go quickly.

Dan Warne
CEO & Founder of Sessions

With an entrepreneurial spirit that started at school, it's no surprise that Dan Warne found himself drawn to the chaos of working in start-ups in their early stages. Now he's building a business of his own.

From selling detention lines at school to selling gas and electricity at university, Dan's entrepreneurial journey started at a young age. This continued through his early career, and while working at a music publishing label he came up with a new idea for a music platform, which he set up with the CEO. The experience gave him invaluable insights on how to start a business, and ignited his passion for working in start-ups.

Fast forward a few years, after working at Orange and Travel Zoo, Dan joined Deliveroo as MD in 2014, becoming their 12th employee. It was during this time that he learned a lot about the food scene. After five years the company had grown significantly and Dan realised he was better placed in a company earlier in the lifecycle.

And then came Sessions. Combining his knowledge from Deliveroo with his passion for the music industry, he founded a business that identifies talent in the UK's food scene and works with them to bring this to consumers, much like a record label would do with artists.

The business is anchored with food halls in Brighton and Islington, but it's technology that Dan has a real interest in. After raising over £8m at the end of last year (2021), they've launched a consumer app and have invested in various technologies. They're even working with an AI company to build technology that shows whether a dish was prepared correctly.

In this episode, hear how Sessions has grown since its inception in 2019, the importance of being sustainable, recruitment strategies in the current market, future expansions, and more!

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Quick fire round

Each episode we ask our guests quick fire questions. Hover below to see what this revealed about this week's guest, Dan Warne....

Favourite brand with Sessions:

Why us down arrow

Tiger and Rabbit - personal taste but I think it's got amazing products.

Hybrid working?

Why us down arrow

Definitely here to stay. The question is how to make the most of it.

Grow, sell or start again?

Why us down arrow

At the moment grow...

People or tech?

Why us down arrow

You've got to balance it. There's got to be a good blend between the two.

Launch and learn or perfection?

Why us down arrow

Probably too much launch and learn.

A little more about this episode…

Dan's entrepreneurial career started at school, where he sold detention lines to his classmates to make some extra cash. This continued on through university, where he sold gas and electricity to student houses.

Following on from university, Dan wanted to get into journalism, thinking it would be a good use of his history degree. This resulted in him working for a music publishing label that owned radio stations as well. It ended up being a great place to start his career as it was an entrepreneurial business that celebrated people who came up with new ideas.

Dan came up with a new music platform and worked with the CEO to set up the business. It was an invaluable experience that taught him everything university couldn't. He learned how to do financial modelling and how to do a business plan, giving him a real taste for building a business.

After furthering his career (and learning what he did and didn't like!) at Orange and Travel Zoo, Dan joined Deliveroo as MD in 2014. Although it was a risk to join a business in its early stages, he realised that he enjoyed the chaos of building a company early in its lifecycle, and he had a real talent for it.

Dan had an appreciation for the way the music industry worked, where scouts would bring in talent, create an album with them and then distribute it. Using his experience and insights from his career to date, he felt that this sort of approach could work within the food space. He wanted to offer consumers a more physical version of that dynamism that you get in the online world, where brands come and go quickly. This was the origin of his current business, Sessions. Sessions identifies great chefs and works with them to produce a menu and then distributes this through a network of kitchens.

Although Sessions has two physical sites, which are important to attract talent and consumers, Dan is heavily focused on the importance of technology. They have invested in a consumer app and are currently working with a partner on AI cameras that determine whether a dish in their kitchen has been prepared in the right way.

What's in store for the future? Dan has ambitions to expand into different UK markets as well as bring in more great brands, both from within the UK and beyond.


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