This day will live long in The Sweet Potato Pizza Company focloir. It was one of the best experiences I went through. From feeling anxious right before going on stage to feeling outrageously proud by the end of the Q&A session. Hearing Alison Cowzer saying the Sweet Potato Pizza was 'the best-frozen pizza she had tasted' has run through my head at least once a day. I had spent lots of evenings watching Dragon's Den where Alison would grill companies of inconsistencies in their business model and I expected that same experiences! So to get some very positive productive criticism from someone of Alison's stature was unbelievable.
I suppose I better give some background into how this came about. Bradley Branding (Andrew Bradley) is one of the leading branding companies who set up a 'Dragon's Den' type competition for start-up companies. The prize would be a paid stand at the food expo in the UK the following year and an invitation to the food and drinks expo awards being held in the City West Hotel the evening of the competition. It consisted of 4 judges, Alison Cowzer (Dragon's Den), Brian Lee (Chopped), Holly White, Colm O Sullivan (Cully & Scully).
I'm going to share something which makes me believe in ask, believe and receive (The Secret). A couple of years back, when the Sweet Potato Pizza was just an idea, I wrote to Brian Lee (Chopped Founder) on LinkedIn. I always admired his work ethic and how true he remained to himself. It had nothing to do with the fact he was a fellow North-sider! I followed everything he has done and said on all social media platforms. I said to myself the day I wrote to him that I would, one day, be in the same circle as him discussing my pizza. Little did I know 3 years later I would be having a conversation with him after the event about how tasty my pizzas were. This is stuff I could only dream of.
I think one of the most important things which came from the competition was the working friendship sparked with Shane Ryan from eatfiid. Shane pipped me to 1st place on the day and deservedly so, his products are truly sensational. Shane is always at the end of a text offering advice on mass manufacturing or contractual agreements or whatever I throw at him. More importantly, he is very open about past failures which have led him to his empire he is building. To this day we communicate frequently. I think this is the real importance of events like Lion's Den. Creating networks that will hopefully live a long time into the future.