Sick of mass-produced supermarket cake in the workplace, Anna Ward built herself a CakeTrike and set up CakeDrop, connecting independent bakeries with hungry London workers…
Tell us about your business, what does it do?
CakeDrop hand-delivers the yummiest cake from London’s best independent bakeries, direct to offices in Zone 1. The idea is to connect London’s office workers with the best cake our city has to offer, whilst simultaneously opening an exciting new route to market for the capital’s incredible local bakeries. We allow offices to buy and schedule cake deliveries in advance via our website. We then source freshly baked, show stopping cakes from our bakery partners and deliver them by CakeTrike on the scheduled days.
What did you do before you started this business?
Before leaving my job in March to set up the business, I worked as a media planner in the city. At 25 years old, I don’t have the most extensive career history but my background is primarily in marketing, and I’ve held a number of marketing roles since graduating from Bournemouth University in 2014.
What inspired you to start up?
The inspiration for the business came from simply working in offices and recognising the need for a better solution. Cake is a huge part of workplace culture in London. Whether it’s birthdays, work anniversaries, or just hungry employees, there’s always a welcomed excuse for baked treats in the office. Yet despite the fact that London is home to some of the best bakeries and cake shops in the world, the majority of offices only ever indulge in the same old, mass-produced supermarket cake. What's more, no matter how often office celebrations come around, they always seem to be a bit last-minute. This sparked the idea to give offices the tools to be more organised and connect them with the best cake our city has to offer.
How would you describe your business to your grandma?
Cakes on bikes!
Where do you get advice, support or help?
Tapping into the skillset of friends and family has been invaluable. I’ve sought help from on all sorts of things, from accounting to mechanics (…the latter for our CakeTrike). It’s so important to utilise your networks – people are happy to help and it’s nice finding ways to return the favour. There is also a real sense of goodwill amongst the start-up community with so many people willing to offer their knowledge with others taking the plunge. Finding like-minded people on a similar journey is a great support, even if it’s just to compare notes on business insurance or tax returns, or vent about the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship.
Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?
So far, CakeDrop has been funded through personal investment. The way I see it, being part of generation rent has given me the opportunity to take a financial risk and invest my savings in an exciting business venture. Without having the burden of mortgage and with saving for a house deposit being an interminable feat, starting a business seemed like a smart investment. These initial funds have helped get CakeDrop off the ground however we are planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign next month to help grow the business and take it to next stage.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
It’s hard to pinpoint the biggest achievement as there have been so many peaks in the journey so far - from launching the website and making our first sale, to being shortlisted for London’s Hottest Food Entrepreneur. Everyday there is something to celebrate, no matter how small it may be. Sometimes overcoming a niggling business challenge can feel like the biggest victory.
How do you differentiate your business from others?
As far as I'm aware, there is no one out there doing exactly the same thing as CakeDrop. There are a number of big name bakeries that supply directly to offices and there will always be supermarket cake on offer. However, what sets us apart is our support for local London businesses. Not only do we create a new revenue stream for independent bakeries in London, we do everything we can to promote our bakery partners to the market - through our website, social media channels, and by crediting the cakes we deliver to the bakery they came from. Partnering with a range of independent bakeries also means we offer huge variety in terms of the kinds of cakes we deliver to our customers. There is so much more out there than Colin the Caterpillar or your standard Red Velvet!
What’s it like to be your own boss?
It’s great being full of fun and creative ideas and knowing that you can run with every single one of them without having to consult anyone else. However, I do miss being in an office environment with lots of people. I don't think I realised how much that added to my life socially before I decided to go it alone!
There are also other sacrifices that come with starting your own business – a guaranteed income, for one. Though entrepreneurship can look like freedom and unlimited holidays on Instagram, the reality for me is having to get the bus because it’s £2 cheaper than the tube. On the upside, I’ve learnt that you can live on very little money and it’s actually quite fun… if you find wondering how to pay your rent fun, that is.
Where do you see your business in 5 years time?
We currently deliver to all postcodes in London Zone 1 but as we grow we hope to be able to service the whole of London, by increasing our fleet of CakeTrikes and setting up multiple hubs around the city. After that, it would be fantastic to extend CakeDrop to other towns and cities in the UK… there are plenty of offices in need of cake!
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Firstly, if you have a great idea, you really should go for it. Stop thinking ‘I can’t because…’ and start thinking ‘I can, even if…’
Secondly, don’t be reluctant to seek advice and guidance. Use your networks, meet people for coffee and ask for feedback on your idea.
Finally, read as many books as you can. Read the stories of entrepreneurs, the journeys behind the companies which are massive and successful today. Even if you only learn one thing from each book you read, you will help yourself