Charlotte Pike

Enterprise success stories

Charlotte Pike

  • Degree: BA Hons Spanish and French
  • Graduated: 2007

What is your business all about?

I run an award-winning bakery company, which makes freefrom products, mainly cakes. I started making delicious treats which were free from wheat, gluten, dairy and soya, as I didn’t enjoy the products on the market, and it just has grown from there. We supply top shops, cafes and delicatessens nationwide.

What is your business’s unique selling point? What is your main form of advertising? Who are your main competitors?

All of our products are free from wheat, gluten, dairy and soya and are made from completely natural ingredients, which is quite different to other manufacturers on the market.

We don’t really advertise as it is such a growth market, we get plenty of interest. We have found Twitter a very useful tool linking us to prospective customers though.

Where did your idea come from? What is the start-up story behind your business?

Exeter is a big part of our start-up story. I met my boyfriend at Exeter, and whilst we were in our first year, I started to cook for my boyfriend who has multiple food intolerences. We found that my cooking was so much better than the products available on the market at the time, and I was asked to bake more and more. It spiralled from there to a real business opportunity.

What things helped you learn how to run a new business? Has there been anything or anyone in particular that has helped you along the way?

I have found social media very useful, particularly Twitter. It connects you to many people doing the same thing as you, which is helpful as running a new business can be very lonely.

What do you think has been your key to success so far?

We are offering something different to what many people in the same area are offering. I have also been very lucky as very quickly, I was invited to lots of industry events, so I managed to establish my name in the industry quickly.

Have you made any mistakes along the way? Is so, what have you learnt from these? And further, if you could go back in time, are there any things that you would change or would do differently?

Really, really be confident in your products before you take them to market. It could be an expensive mistake not to get this right first of all. The same is to be said of your business plan. Are you really going to make enough money to live off of?

What can we look forward to in terms of your business? Have you got any future plans for it?

We are launching a new range of products imminently and we are also going to be appearing in a number of really prestigious shops in London very soon.

We hope to be able to sell wholesale in much greater volumes very soon

What advice do you have for University of Exeter students who are looking to start their own business?

Go for it. Don’t let fear put you off. I’ve had to learn everything as I go along and I am no expert at many things now, including accounts! However, so make sure you research your idea fully before starting.