Darren Whyman, the man behind Manx Whippy, lives in the Isle of Man with wife, Louise and their two children Sophie and Josh. After working for Lloyds Banking Group for 33 years to senior management level, Darren was made redundant, forcing a lifestyle change.
Seeing this as an opportunity, Darren settled on the idea of an ice cream van and thus, ‘Manx Whippy’ was born, swapping a ‘9 to 5’ for a ‘99’.
With the business motto of ‘Creating Sweet Memories’, it’s no surprise that the key to Manx Whippy’s business model is providing brilliant customer service.
Below, Darren shares his experiences of starting a new business on the Isle of Man and how the Department for Enterprise’s Micro Business Grant Scheme helped him make his business dream become a reality.
'Formerly a career banker, I was made redundant in December 2017 and wanted to embark on a complete change of direction. After brainstorming several ideas with a colleague I settled on the one that excited me the most, and I believe provided the best opportunity: the Ice Cream Van.
I researched and planned out the business thoroughly and took a giant leap of faith in February 2017 and shortly after launched Manx Whippy Limited.
The business core model is serving the Island population door to door with delicious Whippy ice cream enabling me to bring happiness to all walks of life across our beautiful Island.'
'The Department for Enterprise was recommended to me by several other entrepreneurs who had accessed the Department’s enterprise support schemes. After researching the support available, I applied for the Micro Business Grant Scheme, which offers financial assistance, training and mentoring for small businesses and individuals looking to take their first steps into self-employment. As a part of the on boarding process I had to submit a simple application form.
My business benefited from a grant of £5,000 towards the purchase of a fixed asset within the company. Financial support aside, the scheme provided excellent all-around business advice from how to set up your business, to how best to promote your business capitalising, for example, on social media.
The scheme also assigned a mentor who acts as a guide and sounding board to help ensure your business stays on track and fulfils its potential.
The training course, delivered by Ian Moncrief-Scott of Information Management Solutions Limited, enabled me to get the most out of the planning process and deliver a high-quality business plan.
I learnt several valuable lessons from both the training and mentoring elements of the scheme, which contributed towards my success, but also helped me avoid making certain mistakes!'
'I enjoy supporting various charities whereby we donate part of our takings to some very worthy causes. It also gives young children a great start in getting used to handling money and putting into practise essential life skills. Our business motto is ‘Creating Sweet Memories’ and this is something that we aspire to deliver on every interaction.
I meet so many people from all walks of life and I particularly enjoy bringing happiness to customers who are perhaps underprivileged or have some form of disability who are overjoyed when they hear the chimes of the oncoming arrival of Manx Whippy!
I love building relationships with my customers and the most satisfying example of this is a little boy with autism who was very shy when I started my rounds and now, 12 months later, he is so confident as he excitedly awaits his delicious ice cream.'
'I arrived on the Island in 1996 having lived and worked across the North West of England previously. The Isle of Man is undoubtedly unique, offering dynamic opportunities for business whilst at the same time being known as a place of peace and tranquillity in a beautiful landscape.
Adapting from an office environment where we get institutionalised towards the corporate world to learning how to operate and dissemble an ice cream machine has been a great challenge, but one I have loved and overcome.
Our Island provides huge opportunities for the right business model and provided your planning cycle is thorough and you have the courage of your convictions then the world is your oyster!'
The Department for Enterprise thanks Darren for his contribution to this article.