It's never been a more exciting time to be a food and drink startup, wherever you are in the UK. Proving that it's not all about Shoreditch street food festivals, fun new pizza business Stoned are base in North Devon, opening their first permanent premises thanks to a Virgin StartUp loan after making a name for themselves on the pop-up and festival circuit. We caught up with founder Tom Honey over a cuppa.
Business name: Stoned
Founder name: Tom Honey
Loan funds received: £25,000
Based in: Braunton, North Devon
1. Explain your business in the time it would take the kettle to boil.
*Deep breath* Stoned is an eat in/take-out wood-fired food venue making the best, most scrumptious pizzas (and other treats) that we can, whilst having as much fun as possible.
2. Where are you based and why is it a good location for your business?
Our pop-ups are scattered around beaches and other nice places on the coast. The shop is in a nearby village called Braunton which we tell everyone is the food capital of North Devon – if you say it enough times people will repeat it… It's a great location because of the chilled vibe, the tourism, and it’s amazing cooking by the sea!
3. How did you come up with the idea?
I stared out selling ice cream when I was 15, but it was lonely, and I used to put signs up saying “back in 30 minutes” and go swimming for the whole day. I thought pizza would be more fun, and I could do it with friends, and I loved the customer interaction.
4. What’s the business model?
Spread the word. Share the love. Expand… All profits will go into making us better and better and doing more and more fun things with the company. We have so many ideas all the time.
5. Who are your competitors?
We compete with the other food places, but at the end of the day we’re all in it together, and the better services and products that we and the businesses around us provide, the more people that will be drawn into the village. If we raise our standard, other people will raise theirs.
6. What’s unique about your business?
We don’t just want to make great food - we want to have great staff, be in a great place, and give people a great experience. We put everything on show, put all the staff in one place to create the buzzing vibe, and we put the focus on the food and the people. Everyone is young and gets on really well, and if we’re having fun, the customers have fun too.
7. What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan?
We were just doing pop-ups but wanting to open our first shop, actually I was in between pizza seasons and getting some experience working in an large pizza chain!
8. How have you used it to grow your business?
To open the shop!
9. Who is your regional delivery partner and how did they help you get a Virgin StartUp loan?
Business West. Alyson Eyval in particular has been amazing the whole way. She gave us lots of support and advice on filling out the applications and the parts we needed to show off to help secure the loan.
10. Biggest achievement so far?
Previously it would have been our first festival with Stoned. We built a massive wooden dome with clear panels, but we hadn’t actually ever completely built it before the event so we were constructing until 2 am praying that the pieces would fit. Luckily it did, and it looked so so so amazing, and it was one of the funnest weekends we’ve ever had. Now it has to be the shop. It’s literally like nothing else around.
11. What’s next for your business?
Expand! As soon as we have raised enough funds from our first place we’ll open another… so on so forth etc. Woohoo!