Start-up is food and drink to local firms
Two businesses have found the recipe for success after receiving support from the Warwickshire start-up programme delivered by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.
After two years of planning, furloughed office manager Katie Keates from Atherstone officially launched The Real Cake Company in March from her kitchen – just days before the Coronavirus pandemic struck the country.
The 31-year-old baking enthusiast bakes a range of cupcakes, brownies and celebration cakes, and, in April, she tripled the number of orders she had forecast – serving up around 120 orders.
The company’s customer base is continuing to grow and Katie is working with local cafes and businesses to develop her wholesale and corporate services.
Prior to launching her business, Katie was assisted by the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, as part of the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale Programme, part funded by the Eu-ropean Regional Development Fund, Warwickshire County Council and the district & borough councils.
Warwickshire County Council has agreed an extension to the start-up programme with the Cham-ber to cater for high demand across the region.
Kate said: “My business adviser told me to ask myself two key questions - why do I want to run a business? And what do I want people to say about my business?
“From then I realised that I wanted to focus on making cakes that people can enjoy at an afforda-ble price, and to have a business that is flexible around my family life - the meeting I had with the Chamber was a lightbulb moment for me. From then on, the regular Chamber meetings were around financial forecasting and how I was going to market my business and that stood me in good stead for my launch.”
Keely Hancox, from the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, added: “Most people often encounter hurdles early on in their business venture, and Katie’s story is a reminder that with the right professional guidance, turning an idea into a reality is possible.”
Start-up businesses are able to gain free support from the Chamber of Commerce; covering all aspects of setting up a business including free workshops relating to business planning, finance and marketing, alongside personal mentoring and sourcing finance.
And that support also proved to be a help to Dave Blick, who launched The Warwickshire Gin Company last year selling gin that is inspired by historical Warwickshire tales.
After a strong period of trade, the Leamington business engaged with advisors at Warwickshire County Council for assistance with access to finance.
Through WCC’s Small Capital Grants Programme, they were able to leverage £8,583 in grant funding to help refurbish their unit and purchase distilling equipment which will allow them to open the new distillery.
Their new premises on Neilston Street, where the gin can be made on site, is due to open in Sep-tember.
Dave said: “The Chamber helped us with marketing techniques, social media and adapting our website in order to capitalise on a scenario where everyone was indoors and using technology more than usual.
“The last 18 months has taught us that even during the toughest of times, our business idea works as we can target both consumers directly, as well as local shops and bars, and we are really excited to take it to the next level with the opening of our distillery.”
For more information about start up support from the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, visit www.cw-chamber.co.uk
Caption: David Blick with Hardeep Sandhu, of the Chamber