Archives Month: July 2015

In 2006 Rob Law appeared on Dragons’ Den with his invention, a child’s suitcase that they could sit on or pull along behind them. After Theo Paphitis broke the prototype Richard Farleigh offered Rob £100,000.00 for 50% of the Trunki company. His offer was turned down!

Strangely, in February 2014 Carrie Bate presented her coffee bag concept to the Dragons and was offered £100,000.00 by Peter Jones and Deborah Meaden. Once again the offer was rejected.

Carrie had resigned her primary school admin assistant’s position in 2011 in order to produce her cafetiere quality coffee bags. Another simple idea that nobody had thought of previously, least not at the top end of the coffee market.

Carrie wasn’t alone in thinking that there was a gap in the market. With stunning packaging and excellent marketing The Little Coffee Bag Co products are already in Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Holiday Inns, Virgin Trains and other top end operators.

Apart from both entrepreneurs being on Dragons’ Den and both having the self-belief to turn down serious offers, Rob and Carrie were alike in not standing around moaning about the lack of support, they followed their convictions and developed their ideas to success.

Having spent a lifetime backing new–start businesses, the thrill for me isn’t celebrating the big winners but seeing how most people blossom and develop when they are supported and encouraged.

In a world seemingly obsessed with numbers, technology, regulation and hand-washing (“It’s not my fault Me Lud, I was only following procedures.”), it is all too easy to forget about people and relationships.

In 2007 Alan Leaman of AML Scaffolding in Cardiff was introduced to us and was seeking finance support to purchase new scaffolding equipment. We developed an excellent working relationship so that Alan could plan his business in the knowledge we would be there for him when he needed to increase his stock of tubes, fittings and boards.

At Armada we really value the personal contact. Our experience is that when you know and understand the other fella you are better able to speed up your service and make the interaction more pleasurable, both in working terms and if appropriate, socially.

I will always remember and value the lunch that Alan and I enjoyed at the Millennium Stadium. The Guinness flowed a bit I recall – but don’t ask me what the score was. It’s the craic that matters, not the result.

Since those days Alan’s son Michael and his daughter are running AML but the relationship continues. Now, when Michael needs new equipment he knows Armada are still there for him.

Milk has been at the centre of the Green and Jenks families since 1888, when Frederick Green established the Roath Park Dairy in Cardiff.

The business passed down through the generations. Now Frederick’s great-great-granddaughter, Gill Pollack and her husband David have put a modern slant on retailing milk by opening a gelato house in Agincourt Square, Monmouth.

Gelato, with less fat than ice cream and more intense flavour is developed and manufactured on the premises. Their laboratory, using locally sourced ingredients, is tasked with constantly coming up with new and delicious flavours.

Setting up a new business can be very daunting and with the cost of all the new equipment Gilly and David needed they admitted to being very nervous. However, Armada have a very long history of “holding the hand” of start-up entrepreneurs and importantly for this couple our experience of the ice cream/gelato industry goes back decades.

Once we were introduced we made the process of funding very straightforward. As Gilly said “We found Armada so helpful and with a friendly voice to support us.”

The founder of Armada, Kirk Smith, has always maintained the philosophy of “Keep it simple! If it gets complicated I won’t understand, let alone the client.”