Former TV ‘dragon’ Theo Paphitis helps Ipswich-based Easy Peasy Cooking find a recipe for success
- Credit: Gregg Brown
Ipswich entrepreneur Ian Bacon is confident he has a recipe for success after receiving encouragement and advice from former Dragons’ Den panel member Theo Paphitis.
Mr Bacon’s business, Easy Peasy Cooking, was among the companies recognised last year by Mr Paphitis as part of his Small Business Sunday initiative, in which owners are invited each Sunday to send him a Tweet about their businesses.
Mr Paphitis, owner of retail businesses including Ryman Stationery and hardware chain Robert Dyas, then selects his six favourites each week for a re-Tweet to his 500,000-plus followers.
Easy Peasy Cooking, which produces the Skinny Recipe Kits range of herb and spice mixes designed for people trying to manage their weight, received an immediate boost to business after receiving a Small Business Sunday re-Tweet last August, just months after launching.
And Mr Bacon, who is based at Felaw Maltings, now has high hopes of taking his business to a new level, having just returned from the annual Small Business Sunday Winners Conference in Birmingham, during which he was presented with his winners trophy and received advice from a range of business experts.
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These included not only Mr Paphitis but also Deborah Meaden, another Dragon’ Den investor, John Mills, chairman of JML, and a number other retail specialists.
Mr Bacon, who launched Easy Peasy Cooking in Decemer 2015 and initially tested out the demand for, and response to, the kits by trading at Ipswich market, said one key piece of advice received was to avoid attempting to break into the major mutiples.
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“I was warned that they would demand high volume and squeeze profit margins,” he says. “Instead, I plan to focus on selling through routes such as health clubs and weight-loss groups.”
Mr Bacon is currently limiting promotional activity in order to ensure that he is able to meet demand. His aim is to outsource production of the kits but this will require a certain level of volume and so he faces the dilemma of how to bridge the gap between the two stages.
A development grant recently secured from enterprise agency Nwes will help and he is also exploring the option of crowd funding.
And Theo Paphitis was of help here, too, adds Mr Bacon. “I had been told that, for credibility, I should bring on board someone more ‘heavy weight’,” he says. “But Theo said: ‘You have grown the business as far as you have and that gives you credibility; you don’t need any non-executives’.”