Tell us a little bit about your business journey, when did you set up and what does your business offer?
Douglas Pizza Co was set up in early 2020 after a long-held dream to start and build a business of my own. I knew I wanted to open a food business and decided on pizza (who doesn’t like pizza!), researching three options, including, franchise, purchase an existing business, or mobile. I decided on the mobile option, as I felt it gave me more flexibility, less risk and meant that I could be at private and public events across the Island, including weddings, corporate events, Isle of Pride & TT.
Having taken a redundancy package and selling my beloved Ducati, I did a pizza making course in the UK (yes, there is such a thing) and I invested in a high spec pizza van (we call Pippa) with a real wood-fired oven. The van was based in the Lake District and brought it over to the Isle of Man in February 2020, with bookings already in the diary. Then the Coronavirus pandemic hit and the van went into storage for three months.
In June 2020, plan B kicked-in, I opened for business, pitching at various schools at the weekends throughout the summer. From there, it’s grown a lot, we have done lots of private parties, corporate staff events, weddings and some larger events, including Isle of Pride, Tynwald Day and Bushy’s Feel Good Festival this summer.
In hindsight, the forced slower start, due to COVID-19, allowed me to gain experience and invest in better equipment and streamline processes. I’ve already got a number of large bookings in the diary for next year, including TT 2022.
How has the Micro Business Grant Scheme helped your business?
It’s helped both financially and through the support of my business mentor, Sandra Robertson.
The £6,000 helped towards the overall investment in the van and updating the equipment. The mentoring was a great help in terms of preparation of the business plan, setting goals and staying focused on the numbers throughout the initial 18-month mentoring period.
I’ve also used Sandra to bounce some ideas off for new products, events & clients to target, pricing and staffing logistics.
How did you find the experience of receiving support?
Great, the team at the Department for Enterprise were really helpful and supportive. The course was very informative and it was great to be surrounded by like-minded people with all sorts of different businesses.
Tell us about your business – what do you enjoy most about the work you do?
Simple really, we do mobile wood-fired pizza, (wood-fired makes a real difference) from Pippa the pizza van, mainly at larger public events, private parties and company staff events.
The best part is being in the thick of large events and meeting all our wonderful customers. I also love being part of someone’s event and making it special for them and their guests.
Why did you choose the Isle of Man as the destination for your business?
A common story, I came to the Isle of Man on a 6-month secondment from Jersey and I’ve been here now for 20 years, so it’s my home.
Outside of work, what do you like to do? How do you spend your free time?
I don’t have a huge amount of free time, but when I do, I’m a coach with Laxey AFC, currently coaching the U14s. I’m also a director of The Manx MSA Trust, a local charity raising funds towards research into Multiple System Atrophy, a degenerative neurological disease, for which there is currently no cure.
I love motorbikes, but sold my Ducati to fund the business. I’m hoping to buy another bike soon.
How did you hear about the support schemes offered by the Department for Enterprise?
Knowing I wanted to set up the business, I researched what support was available to help set up a new business. It was easy to find.
Would you recommend the Micro Business Grant Scheme to other businesses and what would be your top tips for going through the application process?
Absolutely, I’d totally recommend it.
Top tips would be, (1) don’t be afraid to ask for guidance, there’s plenty of people in the programme, willing to help. I still meet people from my course and we share experiences so far; and (2) be prepared to work with the process for the full term, you will get the benefit.
The Micro Business Grant Scheme has been designed for new start-ups or businesses trading for less than 18 months, and offers training, financial assistance and business mentoring.
To find out more about the Micro Business Grant Scheme, click here.