A start-up bakery in Leeds – which received business support from AD:VENTURE at Leeds Trinity University – has won three national FreeFrom Food Awards.
Wildcraft Gluten Free Bakery, run by entrepreneurs Mina Allsopp and Samantha Havis, won Gold for their Sprouted Buckwheat Sourdough Loaf, Silver for their Brioche and were named Overall Winner for Best Product from a New Start-Up.
Since starting their business 18 months ago, Mina and Sam spent most of their time in the kitchen, developing a wide range of gluten-free products – but felt that they had no time to work on their business. Sam started to look for business support and came across the Business Growth Collective and leadership events delivered by business experts at Leeds Trinity.
Sam said: "Start-up companies can shy away from business events, believing they know what they are doing, but we are a great example of how this support can help you grow more quickly.
"I really liked the idea of talking to others in the same position, sharing experiences and using our collective knowledge to tackle each challenge. It certainly helped to refine my thoughts."
Over six sessions of the Business Growth Collective, businesses are encouraged to come together to share their challenges and work on them collectively. Taking the advice and feedback of others, each delegate then works on their challenge at home to identify suitable and sustainable ways to take their company forward.
During Sam's sessions, she gained the confidence and confirmation that the business was on the right tracks. She tackled the hurdle of how to get out of the bakery to work on the business with a longer-term plan and has now appointed two full-time and two part-time staff.
She added: "We wouldn't have made the appointments we have without the guidance we took from the Business Growth Collective and leadership events. We certainly would encourage others to take a look and to see if there are any workshops, sessions or longer-term programmes that will support them with their future plans. As an award-winning business, we would definitely say it's been worth it."
Having made the commitment to employ new staff, the Directors can now concentrate on running the business – which has included a renewed focus on raising the profile of the brand and taking the time to submit to national awards. The business is now looking for larger industrial premises in Leeds to extend its production and consider new routes to market, including mail order.
Andy Gilliland, who delivered the Business Growth Collective, is Academic Group Lead for Business, Management and Marketing at Leeds Trinity and a former Accountant specialising in early-phase business growth.
He added: "Hearing about the progress that Wildcraft Gluten Free Bakery has made since the sessions is further evidence that we are able to make a real and positive different to the businesses we engage with. It's great to hear that this company has taken the advice gleaned from the sessions, put it into practice and is seeing the benefits first-hand. We wish them every success for the future and look forward to tasting some of their delicious products when we next visit!"
For further details about Wildcraft Gluten Free Bakery, please visit www.wildcraftbakery.com.
For details about the AD:VENTURE programme and how it supports start-up and young enterprises throughout the Leeds City Region, please visit www.ad-venture.org.uk.
Upcoming events at Leeds Trinity include: Introduction to PR for new businesses (2 October), Build a website for your business – no coding required! (23 October and 6 November) and Lead Yourself to Success (21 November). All events will be published on the Leeds Trinity and AD:VENTURE websites.
AD:VENTURE is funded by the 2014 to 2020 European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Programme.