National Start-up Competition provides funding boost for Falkirk food businesses

National Start-up Competition provides funding boost for Falkirk food businesses

A cake business and artisan chocolatier, both from Falkirk, have each received £1,000 to invest in their businesses after competing in one of the UK’s largest entrepreneurial competitions.

Karen’s Cakes, run by Karen Templeton, 39, and Maley’s Chocolate, run my Michael Maley (40), came joint runners-up at the TestTown final, having previously performed outstandingly in their respective regional heat in Falkirk which took place last year.

The TestTown competition provides budding entrepreneur’s access to vacant high street units to allow them to showcase their business ideas. It has become one of the UK and Ireland’s biggest accelerator programmes for entrepreneurs with fresh ideas for rejuvenating the country’s town centres.

The final of TestTown took place in Glasgow at the end of February and saw 18 entrepreneurs showcase 12 start-up business ideas in retail spaces across just three days. The competition was won by Panda’s Kitchen, an artisan liqueur business from Huddersfield, who took home the top prize of £10k of funding.

Karen, said: “The TestTown competition was an absolutely fantastic experience and I loved every single minute of it! There was some stiff competition and I never dreamt I would finish anywhere near the top, far less take home funding!

“I started out making cakes for family about two years ago and since then, it’s kind of snowballed into a full time job! After working as a security officer for many years, I can now say that I truly love my job and I’m excited about where I’m going to take my business next. I hope to invest the money in new tools and equipment for helping to make my cakes and thank the Carnegie UK Trust for their support.”

 

Michael, said: “After leaving my office career of 15 years last year I do sometimes find myself stopping and realising I’ve ended up doing a dream job.

“I started out about two years ago making fruit baskets and after being asked to do more chocolate based products, things evolved from there.

“The whole experience of being involved in TestTown has been invaluable for my personal development and confidence as a business owner. Since joining and competing in the first round in September I’ve opened pop up shops, created two part time jobs and started a training programme for young unemployed people in the area.

“We are very lucky that our wholesale clients already include two well-known tourist attractions, Callendar House and the world famous Kelpies. The investment from The Trust has allowed us to develop our own bespoke packaging and we are also looking at premises to move our chocolate making classes into a more central location.”

In the last three years, the TestTown competition has injected over £250,000 into 100 start-ups and supported more than 200 entrepreneurs.

Jim Metcalfe, TestTown Programme Leader at The Carnegie UK Trust, said: “TestTown is all about supporting our next generation of business leaders and Karen and Michael’s business efforts deserved to be recognised.

“Our support for Karen and Michael doesn’t stop here. We will continue to offer our advice to them, should they need it in this next phase in their business journeys. We wish them the very best of luck!”

TestTown is run by philanthropic organisation, the Carnegie UK Trust. Falkirk Delivers, the Business Improvement District (BID) for Falkirk, helped to manage the regional heat of TestTown and help to select both Karen and Michael as finalists.

Sarah McKenzie, Assistant Manager of Falkirk Delivers, said: “Falkirk Delivers and our partners would like to congratulate both Karen and Michael for their achievements and dedication in the TestTown National competition.

“This project has enabled us to give the finalists a step up and furthermore bringing positive solutions and media coverage for the town centre.

“We hope we can replicate this again in vacant units across the town centre, and would urge other towns to become involved as TestTown is such a positive experience.  We will continue to support both Karen and Michael and wish them both the very best of luck in the future.”

Each TestTown finalist had previously performed outstandingly in their respective regional heats. These took place in: Walthamstow,Carrickfergus, Enniscorthy, Ireland, Falkirk, Perth, Ellesmere Port, Great Yarmouth,Huddersfield, Heanor, England  Bridgend, Wales.

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