10 January 2017

Support from Heart of the South West Growth Hub is helping a Devon-based patisserie company move from a kitchen table start-up to a dedicated business unit with plans to create new jobs.

Te Cake is run by husband and wife team Samantha and Dean Curkovic. Specialising in hand-made patisserie and chocolate work, the Kingsbridge business has been focusing on growing their customer base amongst high-end hotels and restaurants.

The couple launched in early 2015 when they moved back to Sam’s home area after several years living in Australia, where pastry chef Dean learnt his craft.

They turned to Heart of the South West Growth Hub for support when they spotted a marketing and social media course delivered by Business Boost in an email newsletter from the Growth Hub.

Sam has come into the world of entrepreneurship via an unusual route – her previous job was as a guide dog trainer. Support from the Growth Hub’s adviser Kerry Penhallurick has given her confidence to develop her role in managing and growing the business.

She said: “Kerry was great. I enquired about a course, but she also sent me fact sheets and very specific information. She took the time to pick out the relevant topics that addressed the issues I needed help with – that saved me time and trawling around looking for what I needed.

“She made me feel that she really understood what I was looking for and offered that personal touch which is so important in our own business.”

Sam and Dean went on to receive support from the Growth Hub’s Growth Support Service adviser Eliot Forte. They have shifted their business plan from selling primarily at markets and food fairs and selling direct to the customer to targeting restaurants and hotels.

Sam explains: “Eliot looked at our website and social media, and gave us very specific, practical advice about how we are using that to communicate to our target market.

“Right at the beginning, we didn’t have a particular focus other than making things and selling just to get the business going – before we realised we weren’t differentiating ourselves in the market. This year, we’ve had so much more confidence to focus on pastry and chocolate work and we haven’t looked back!”

The Curkovics have now taken on a dedicated business unit where they can increase production of their patisserie products. With the new unit which is part funded by The South Devon Coastal Local Action Group with funds from the “Rural Development Programme for England – Europe Investing in Rural Areas” they plan to create three jobs over the next few years.

“Overall the support from the Growth Hub has helped us concentrate on sustainable growth. It’s so easy for us to be too involved in the day to day running of the business.

“Elliot also encouraged us to think about our life goals, and to create business goals around that. We have begun to sketch out what the next five years might look like.”

To find out about business support that may be available to your business via Heart of the South West Growth Hub contact us today on 03456 047 047 or complete our enquiry form.

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