OW Spotlight James Frost

Murray '18

Entrepreneur and Founder of Phoenix Bars

Tell us about yourself – just a few sentences to introduce yourself. 

I am a relatively recent Old Wellington (Head of Murray, 2018) and have just completed my tertiary education at the University of Exeter, reading a BSc in Economics. I am one of 4 brothers to have attended Wellington and the Murray, with my older brother Matt graduating a year before me and my two younger brothers, Alex and Ollie, having recently finished their upper sixth and lower sixth years respectively. During my time at the College, I was an extremely enthusiastic rugby player and cricket player, representing the 1st XV and captaining the 2nd XI and always looked to immerse myself in all aspects of College life, such as through LAMDA, my role as chief editor of the economics magazine, being a member of several societies and attending numerous talks and lectures from expert, external visitors. 

What inspired you to set up the Phoenix Bar? 

In 2020, I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed and came across a friend undertaking what was known as the ‘Ration Challenge’, whereby people ate the same rations provided to Syrian refugees for a week. From seeing the photos taken of the rations and my basic understanding of nutrition from my passion for health and fitness, I could see the poor nutritional quality of the rations provided. Following in-depth research, I discovered that the food aid and rations provided by aid, charitable organisations and governments to those suffering food insecurity always fail to meet the nutritional requirements established by the World Health Organisation (WHO), whilst also having the issues of not being culturally appropriate, creating a cycle of dependency, driving down local prices which negatively affecting local producers and being prone to supply-side shocks and logistical difficulties.  

After some thought, I came up with the idea of creating a completely nourishing food bar to be provided to those experiencing hunger, food insecurity or malnutrition, whereby the consumption of one Phoenix Bar will provide a nutritionally balanced 500-calorie meal, and the daily consumption of four bars meets all of WHO’s criteria for human nutrition, as well as solving the other issues caused by the current food aid and ration system. 

To date, Phoenix Bars have been distributed to four homeless charities in Exeter, the city where I attended University, but also one of the most densely populated cities for homelessness in the UK. 

How did you get to where you are today? 

I have always had a strong interest in entrepreneurship – from selling biltong in the Murray to starting up Flaming Phoenix. I also had a strong understanding of nutrition from an interest in health and fitness, which came from playing a variety of sports at Wellington. 

What advice would you give to students/young OWs who would like to set up their own business? 

To ensure that they make use of the fantastic Wellington Connect network! I have been able to gain invaluable feedback from highly experienced industry leaders from various sectors that are a part of the community, which has maximised the success I have had in my business venture so far. 

What are your career highlights? 

Securing the £50,000 required to fund the Phoenix Bar’s next stages of research and development. This research and development commenced on the 1st of June and is being undertaken by an award-winning UK food science and technology company. It is exciting the Phoenix Bar could be developed as soon as the 1st of September. Essentially, this R&D will minimise the cost and weight of the Bar and extend the shelf-life of the product without compromising its nutritional value and sustainability. 

Where do you see yourself in 5/10/20 years? 

Producing and selling large volumes of Phoenix Bars to several high-profile aid agencies, governments, and charities so that there is a significant reduction in hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition globally. 

Do you have a fond memory from your time at Wellington that you would like to share? 

Being elected as Head of House and College Prefect by my peers and the teaching staff in the boarding house was very special. Also, scoring 63 runs against Radley on a green, seaming wicket was very enjoyable! 

How can someone support or learn more about this important initiative? 

If you wish to learn more about this unique solution to prevent hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition globally please visit https://www.flaming-phoenix.co.uk/. If you, or if you know of anyone, who may be interested in supporting this important initiative by providing guidance, contacts or financing, please do not hesitate to contact me via the details provided on the website.  

Thanks to James Frost (M 18) for this spotlight piece.