Chef Ayesha Pakravan chats to us about her new bespoke catering company The Plattery.
Explain your business in thirty seconds or less
The Plattery is a bespoke catering company providing grazing tables, platters and picnic boxes to London and the wider UK. Our products combine chef-quality food with imaginative floristry to create unique tastes.
How did you come up with the idea?
As a trained chef, I have always had a passion for food and have experimented with different career paths: working in restaurants; with catering companies and on my own. However, each role didn’t feel like quite the right one for me. The idea for The Plattery came organically, stemming from how I love to create ‘spreads’ for my family and friends in my spare time. I felt there was a gap in the market for chef-quality food presented in the “grazing table” style and it seemed like a natural step to begin the business.
What’s the business model?
The business model for The Plattery is actually simple. There are six pre-set options which can be ordered directly through the website and delivered to your event. These work well if you have a quick turnaround or are on a tighter budget. Then, you’ve got the choice of a slightly more premium, customisable option, where you can discuss your needs and requirements and The Plattery will then create a bespoke menu to your tastes. The picnic boxes and platters cater for smaller events with up to 20 guests and the grazing tables work for larger events with 15 attendees upwards. We build our picnic boxes and platters offsite and then hand deliver on the morning of an event; the grazing tables are constructed at the event site itself.
We make sure to work with local suppliers to source high-quality, fresh ingredients and strive to be very low plastic.
What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan?
When I applied for the Start Up Loan, The Plattery had only just started to get off the ground. It was hard to juggle bookings for the company, whilst still being in a full-time job. The loan allowed me to focus on what needed to be done to make the transition out of full-time work and to formally launch The Plattery, going from a side hustle to a management position, which is where I am today.
How have you used it to grow your business?
The loan has given me freedom to invest in my business in ways I could not have done before. I have been able to buy a company car, which means London commuting has become easier. I have been able to allocate funds to spend appropriately on Facebook and Instagram campaigns and I have been able to work with a web designer to build our website. The loan means I can spend more money on better quality materials (like my wooden serving boards) and has also meant that I can take time in sourcing produce and working with better suppliers. Having a sum of money allocated purely for business purposes means that I can clearly see what I am spending and what I am making, which is crucial.
When I received the loan, it was also a huge confidence boost and gave me a push forward to really progress with The Plattery – securing support from Virgin StartUp really helps you along on the business journey.
What’s your biggest achievement so far?
The Plattery has been booked to cater a breakfast for 150 guests, which felt a big achievement.
What’s next for your business?
Looking ahead, I will be setting up a subscription model, allowing clients to benefit from grazing year-round. We’re also aiming to focus on British-wide major events, hoping to work towards being one of the main private picnic providers for events like Ascot, Henley and Wimbledon. In addition, I am working with different brands in London, creating themed platters and grazing tables based on their products, widening the scope of the business.
Who was your Business Advisor and how did they help you get a Virgin StartUp Loan?
Kieran was my Business Advisor and although our time working together was brief, he was absolutely amazing. He was a fantastic sounding board for me to voice my ideas to, and he was really instrumental in my successful application for the loan. Kieran answered any and all of my questions and was always at the end of an email or on the phone. He was thorough when going through my business plan and advised me when he felt I needed to provide more information, or needed to tweak things.
All in all, I couldn’t recommend Virgin StartUp more to anyone thinking of starting a business. Not only do they provide money, but they give you the support and confidence to move forward and that is invaluable.