26/11/2015 - Permalink

Masala spice pots manufacturer named winner of the Shropshire Dragons’ Den challenge

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A manufacturer of masala spice pots has been named the winner in a Dragons’ Den-style competition held at Shropshire Food Enterprise Centre in Shrewsbury.

Lajina Leal of Telford-based Masala Magic has developed two masala spice pots that she sells in local farm shops in Shropshire, and also teaches Indian cooking to children and adults in informal and corporate settings.

For the contest, Lajina and fellow finalist Suzanne Welland of Roly Poly Puddings each had 35 minutes in which to pitch their business proposals to the four Dragons, take their questions and offer a tasting of their product.

Lajina won six months’ free tenancy at the Food Enterprise Centre, which she hopes to move into in March 2016. In the meantime, she will receive support to develop her business plan and get her unit costs as low as possible before she moves in. She’s also been invited to use space at the Food Enterprise Centre between now and March if she continues with her corporate events.

Fellow finalist Suzanne Welland makes luxury handmade steamed puddings including Christmas puddings which she sells through fairs, farmers’ markets, delis, pubs, restaurants and tea shops.

The Dragons were so impressed with her pitch that they have offered her the use of a unit at the Food Enterprise Centre for one or two weeks before Christmas to help with the batch-making of Christmas puddings, and to get to get a feel for what she needs to help her develop and move her business forward. The Dragons felt that her business is currently best operating from home but that the use of a unit at very busy times such as Christmas would clearly benefit her and give her a feel for what the ‘next step’ could feel like.

The Dragons will also put together a bespoke package of support for both businesses that will include help with:

  • creative design work and social media.
  • analysis of financial information, particularly costs.
  • promoting their businesses through local festivals and events.

The four Dragons were: Clive Wright, Chief Executive of Shropshire Council; Marcus Bean, award winning chef and owner of Brompton Cookery school; Beth Heath, organiser of Shrewsbury Food Festival, Shrewsbury Christmas Festival and owner of Shropshire Festivals and Events Management; Peter Guy, Advertisement Manager/Director, Shropshire Star, and Vice President of Shropshire Chamber of Commerce.

Clive Wright of Shropshire Council presented the certificates on behalf of the Shropshire Dragons. He said:

“We have an overall winner in Lajina but we as Dragons have been hugely impressed by both contestants and didn’t want there to be any losers. We want to ensure both businesses benefit from a package of support that will help firm up their individual business plans and identify what other support they can access to help shape their ambitions.”

Fellow Dragon Marcus Bean said:

“Both our contestants have good products, and they now need to concentrate on the basics including finances and marketing so they can continue to build and develop their longer term business ambitions.”

Lajina of Masala Magic said:

“This is a great opportunity for me to not only grow my business but to really understand which aspects of the business I want to concentrate on in the future. Thank you to the Dragons for the very constructive challenges they threw out to me and their advice on how to push myself and my ambitions forward.”

Suzanne of Roly Poly Puddings said:

“It was a fabulous experience for me, and despite being nervous at the start, I really enjoyed it. The Dragons were very helpful and constructive with their advice, and also generous with their offers of business assistance.”

 For more information about Shropshire Food Enterprise Centre, visit www.shropshirefoodcentre.co.uk.