Gabriella is currenly part of a competition for BBC called Be Your Own Boss competition where Richard Reed, the co-founder of Innocent Drinks is hoping to invest his £1 million in the next wave of young entrepreneurs. Gabriella has been given £100 to make a profit from, It’s sort of an experimental task she said.
She plans to make and sell 500 cupcakes from the £100 budget.
Hi Gabriella, great to have you on YHP, How are you doing?
Very well thank you!
Could you quickly give us some background information about yourself? Tell me about yourself growing up?
I had a very happy childhood – we’re very family orientated and with two older sisters there’s always been a lot going on. My mother is a brilliant cook and my father owns a restaurant so food had always featured strongly in my life. The recipe I use in my cakes was passed down by my grandmother who has been teaching me to bake since I was very young.
How did you get into business? Were you exposed to entrepreneurship as a child?
I was always academically driven. With no education himself, my father wanted to provide us with the schooling he had never had. I was always aware of the hard work that had got us into good schools and given us a comfortable lifestyle and was always proud of my father’s roots.
However, being the youngest of the three I was protected quite a lot and it wasn’t until recently that I started thinking about getting into business myself. Both of my sisters are very business-minded and I always saw myself as more relaxed – I always thought that life would fall into place! As I’ve got older I’ve realized that you have to go after what you want rather than wait for it to come to you.
Who was your inspiration growing up and why?
My father was born in a very small town in Southern Italy and moved to England when he was sixteen. He had one bag and less than £50 to his name! Meeting my mother just two years later he moved to Brighton and began working as a pizza boy. They worked incredibly hard, took some risks, and now have a successful business on Brighton seafront. My father is for me an example of what hard work and determination can amount to.
What was the inspiration behind Cupcake bakery? How did the idea come about?
I’ve just finished an English degree at university and my passion has always been for reading and writing. I thought temporarily about getting into advertising and it was from this perspective that I began thinking of business ideas. A Pound of Sugar was really a name before it became a serious project. I am passionate about baking but never thought of it as a career prospect until I discovered the Be Your Own Boss competition. I applied on a whim thinking it was a great idea but didn’t think I’d get through. Since then I’ve had to adopt a business mind in order to turn a dream into a reality and it’s been a really positive experience.
What was your biggest challenge during the starting up phase?
I think having £100 and a deadline yet having really only an idea was pretty daunting. I did think for a moment it would never materialize. However I took each step as it came and after getting a brand designed and the ingredients bought I felt a lot more confident. It was only after my first event that I felt like it could actually work!!
How have you been able to gain some traction to the business so far?
I think in this day and age social media is essential. I’ve worked hard creating a Facebook page and Twitter account and have been trying to raise awareness about the project via the internet. Also at the events I have attended I’ve been handing out business cards and flyers with information about A Pound of Sugar and BYOB. I’ve also got a friend of mine managing the PR side of things. It’s a really great opportunity for all of my friends to get involved in areas that they are potentially wanting to get into after university such as marketing and PR.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
I really enjoy setting up the stands! I get such satisfaction when I see the stall laid out beautifully and people commenting on how it looks. Before the cakes have been sold or eaten they do look delicious!
What can we be expecting from Cupcake bakery in 2012?
This really depends upon how far I make it in the competition! If I get through this round then I’ll be given up to £5000 seed capital and with that I aim to create a delivery service and cater for events. I’m working out of the back of my parents kitchen so investing in some decent utensils would be a necessary step!
What three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
Determination, determination, determination!