AS anyone who has been to a music festival or outdoor sporting event recently will know, food vans have changed.

Traditionally, you'd be lucky to get an edible burger, pie or bag of chips. These days, however, street food trucks offer some of the freshest, tastiest and most exciting and food you can find anywhere, from tacos, dumplings and doughnuts to shwarmas, gyros and dhals.

Business-minded foodie Vanessa Gilpin was still a student at the University of Glasgow when she spotted a gap in the street food market for a one-stop-shop where event-planners could come and get the right mix of vendors for their event. Four years on, StrEAT Events is thriving, providing quality caterers for some of the country’s top events.

“We’re a marketplace for street food and independent catering, working with more than 200 caterers across Scotland to organise food for all sorts of events, from weddings with 100 people to festivals for 30,000,” says Ms Gilpin. “Coming from London, where the street food scene was well developed, I saw an opportunity and took things from there. People in Scotland love food and are increasingly moving away from formal restaurant dining. I saw a great street food scene emerge and grow, and I really wanted to be part of that.”

Recent wins include providing the catering for the Scottish Open in North Berwick, which reflected a changing brief for big events.

“The organisers wanted to offer their customers a quality experience – great golf but also amazing food. They were keen to use local traders from East Lothian and around Scotland, and we were able to provide that mix.”

Now taking the business to the next level in terms of technology and customer experience, Glasgow-based Ms Gilpin, 29, admits the start-up journey from idea to market took some time and didn’t always run smoothly. But says the process was useful in both a business and corporate sense.

“Looking back it was a period of real growth for me, in terms of confidence, experience and professionalism. The economic climate for people my age means more and more of us have to rely on ourselves to be creative. The sureties of the past no longer exist, and starting a business is part of that picture.

“Perseverance is vital. You have to be able to cheer yourself on. As a solo entrepreneur there are moments of doubt and struggle. But you have to remember the feeling you got when you first started and go back to that when times get tough. Always have that end goal in mind."

The businesswoman believes Scotland's start-up landscape has advantages over her native London, particularly for young entrepreneurs.

“For me, one of the stand-out things is the lower cost of living,” she says. “You can afford to be creative, save up and build your business without the pressure of London rents.”

Another important factor in the success of StrEAT Events has been Ms Gilpin’s participation in the RBS Entrepreneur Accelerator programme.

“I love being around other entrepreneurs at the hub," she says. "When you’re having a bad day there’s always someone you can bounce ideas off. There are so many different levels of experience to draw upon, too. Recently I was hiring people and was able to go to our Facebook group and get instant advice about contracts – that was invaluable.”

As for the advice she’d offer other budding entrepreneurs, Ms Gilpin says preparation is the key.

“Even if you don’t have an idea yet, spend your time reading about business and going to networking events. Then when you do come up with the right idea, you’ve already done some of the work.”