Brothers Pete and Rob Sharpe started their luxury mince pie making business in November 2016. Perfectly positioned in the pie-loving town of Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, the pair’s joint passion for a tasty pie was spurred on by the sales from their pies in their first Christmas as small business owners. Pete tells us more about their start-up journey.
Tell us a bit more about Incredible Pies
At Incredible Pies we sell a range of sweet dessert pies including traditional apple pies, cherry pies and, at Christmas, we focus on different flavours of mince pies including rum and ginger, amaretto and many more.
As far as we know, we are the only small-scale specialist producer of luxury mince pies with a range of different flavours. We currently work on the business full-time and will probably employ 4 extra seasonal staff around Christmas time.
What were you both doing before starting the business?
The business started in November 2016. At that time I had completed a university degree in Marketing and had been looking for a job. Both my degree and my work experience in social media have been very useful for the business. Rob was working for the NHS, however he has always enjoyed cooking which has been vital in developing our products. Rob also has a background in data analytics which has been great for creating spreadsheets on our figures. The business was Rob’s idea, we wanted to try something in the food industry and hadn’t really seen anyone doing what we do at the luxury end of the market. Since then, Rob has given up his job to focus fully on Incredible Pies as we approach a busy Christmas period.
How did you hear about the support on offer from NBV?
We had gone to Melton Borough Council for a meeting with the local business development officer and we heard about the support on offer from NBV. We were attracted to NBV by the Starting in Business Programme, which has been such a great help in our early days as it has helped us to avoid the many pitfalls a start-up can fall into.
We also accessed funding provided by the Sir Thomas White Loan Charity and NBV assisted us in getting our application for this loan off the ground.
How has the support and advice from NBV helped your business?
We received help in creating a thorough business plan and we continue to receive business support which has been helpful when we’ve needed to talk through strategic problems for our business. At times we’ve had to pivot on how we do things so it’s been invaluable to ask the opinion of our mentor, Gau Naik, before proceeding with our plan; the level of advice we’ve received from Gau has been superb.
The investment has helped us buy a pie press which has sped up our production process and will allow us to grow the business and take on a lot more work.
What have been the challenges since you began trading?
We’ve gained a lot of experience in the year since we’ve been trading. It has been a steep learning curve. We’ve faced challenges with the raw price of ingredients increasing. We overcame this by sourcing our products in higher quantities. On a personal level we’ve learnt to be resilient, things won’t always work out and we’ve learnt to pick ourselves up quickly when things go wrong! There are many highs and lows. The highs for us are seeing customers’ enthusiasm for the products and their feedback lets us know we are doing something right!
What does the future hold for Incredible Pies? Do you have any tips or advice for others following in your footsteps?
For our future plans we have booked ourselves onto many of the largest Christmas events in the country including Bath Christmas Market, Lincoln Christmas Market and Country Living Christmas Fair. We are also setting up our website to take online orders for mince pies.
My tips for others would be if you have a business idea to just go for it. Do some form of initial concept testing in a low risk environment so if things don’t work out you can move on to your next idea. Make the base of your business to create a truly exceptional product and the opportunities and success will follow from there. I would advise anyone to speak to NBV about their idea to take advantage of the services they provide.
If you wish to follow in the footsteps of Pete and Rob, contact NBV today to see how we can help your business grow: www.nbv.co.uk/register 0844 887 2568*
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