We love startups that are doing something different. When Angela Salt was made redundant, she decided to start up her own business - and as a dog-owner, knowing how vital it is for dogs to keep cool in the heat, inspiration struck one warm day in the park. Now Angela is the founder of Paws and Chill, an ice-cream van for dogs that also sells accessories and treats.
Explain your business in thirty seconds or less
The business is a mobile refreshment stop for dogs – I operate in country parks, agricultural shows etc. I also sell online via Facebook, offering dog treats, gifts and accessories. I have a flexible contract to sell in the grounds of Calke Abbey and have booked to Ashby Show and Bradgate Park summer fair, all within a 20 mile radius of my home.
I sell to dog walkers and owners, and a few other customers buy for someone else’s pet.
Where are are you based and why is it a good location for your business?
The business is based on Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire – it’s perfect because there is lots of green space and many dog owners.
How did you come up with the idea?
Last summer after being made redundant I was looking for a new and quite different type of employment. I had 30 years of customer service skills and a love of dogs. It was a hot summer and one day I just came up with an idea for a dog ice cream van. I thought that it was important to keep dogs healthy and hydrated whilst they are out. The idea grew from there. I didn’t have any previous experience of running a business, but had a small amount of knowledge about self-employment from working in the Department for Work and Pensions.
What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan?
I was still quite early stage and concerned about my lack of business knowledge – however with the help of Andrew Hitchinson, who works for Business Enterprise Support, I was able to create a business plan and learn more about running a business.
How have you used it to grow your business?
With the start-up loan I bought a van, had it sign-written and fitted out to my specifications, bought stock and paid for paid for advertising. I understand the need to have a professional image, so now I have a logo, matching uniform, printed leaflets and business cards. I have also arranged for leaflets to be posted out with the May issue of Derbyshire Life magazine.
Who helped you get a Virgin StartUp loan?
I found my BES coach, Andrew Hitchinson, really helpful, supportive and enthusiastic. He was easy to talk to and explained everything really clearly. Business Enterprise support are the delivery partners for Virgin Start Up loans across the Midlands. The support through writing the business plan was great, and his interest and attitude was really motivating. I would recommend anyone to use Virgin Start up if they were looking to start their own business.
Biggest achievement so far?
Winning a contract to work from Calke Abbey, and also getting booked to appear at events such as the Ashby Show and Bradgate Park summer fair later in the year. I approached East Staffordshire Borough Council first to potentially work from their parks and,after finding regulations an issue, I began approaching private landowners.
Calke Abbey was the first to be interested. I had explained in the email how the van would be smart, professional and fit in with the ethos of the park and grounds. The property manager invited me to an informal interview in February to have a look at the products and discuss terms, and I was offered a contract with them to operate from the car park.
What’s next for your business?
In the next 12 months I would like to achieve a business that has plenty of bookings, is widely known among dog owners, and also making a profit. I have had considerable positive feedback regarding how unique the business is and would love to be successful enough to franchise in the future. I have had to decline three invitations in the last week to attend fundraisers and dog shows, so I am positive there is plenty of interest in the service!
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