The Croydon Partnership, the joint venture between Westfield and Hammerson, has announced that Keisha Emanuel, 31 from Selhurst, and her business idea ‘Once Upon a Cheesecake Online Boutique’ has won the hotly contested Dragons’ Den-style competition.
‘Once Upon a Cheesecake’ sells handmade gourmet cheese based desserts that are gluten free and available in a range of flavours and sizes. The boutique is currently supplying Brown and Green Café in Crystal Palace with a selection of its miniature cheesecakes. It will use part of the investment to go on-line and expand further across the local coffee shop market and target restaurants and delicatessens, as well as provide wedding and corporate packages and bespoke cheesecake hampers.
Keisha was awarded £4,000 of seed capital, a start-up tool kit fund worth £1,000 for web-site and marketing, a dedicated mentor and the potential for pop-up space in the town centre.
Following a day of presentations and extensive questioning, Keisha beat three other shortlisted entrepreneurs, Mum’s The Chef, Baby Face Dolls and Hobby Centre, to secure the top prize.
Each pitched their business proposal to a panel of four Westfield and Hammerson “Dragons”, two of the world’s best known and highly regarded retail companies.
Steve Yewman, Development Director from The Croydon Partnership said: “The standard of entries we received was exceptionally high and the finalists we selected were particularly impressive.
After a day of excellent presentations and some tough questioning the panel agreed that ‘Once Upon a Cheesecake’ had an inspiring business plan along with a great tasting treat.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for Keisha to kick-start her business; we'll be working closely with her over the coming months to provide business mentoring and financial support so that she can turn her business plan into reality.”
The initiative is part of The Croydon Partnership’s commitment to supporting business enterprise across the borough through the Partners in Business strand of its Community Plan. The plan encompasses a range of initiatives which have been established to ensure that the town, its residents, local businesses and grass roots community organisations will begin to benefit immediately and over the long-term from the re-development.