Pitching to the Dragons
In partnership with the London Jewish Cultural Centre, we invited aspiring entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas for a special Dragons’ Den-style event that could be their big break. The finalists will present their plans in front of top judges on Monday July 7 at the LJCC.
The Doopoo Scoop
Pet-owner Leonie Apfel has developed a product that she says is superior to anything else like it on the market. Mrs Apfel, a 60-year-old mother-of-seven from Leeds, has created the Doopoo Scoop — an environmentally friendly and foldable device for picking up dog dirt.
Dissatisfied with the standard of poop-scoop products, Mrs Apfel — who by her own admission has no business background — came up with the Doopoo Scoop three years ago. She is now hoping to secure investment to improve the design. “I am sure there is nothing actually like the Doopoo Scoop,” says Mrs Apfel, a piano teacher by profession. “I have been round pet shops trying to buy things but there was nothing the same or that works as well.”
The Doopoo Scoop is lightweight, “environmentally friendly”, and operates with a single hand movement. It does not require walkers to bend down or stoop. “When the holder squeezes the hand-grip, the clamp over which the bag is placed closes, with the plastic bag securely retaining the waste, and then you retrieve it,” she explains. “At no time need the waste in the bag be touched by the user or come into direct contact with the clamp, protecting the user against the risk of infection.” She says all components apart from the bag would be made from environmentally friendly material. “I felt there was the need for this on the market. If there was anyone who could invest in it then that would be very pleasant. It works but needs investment to improve it.”
Mrs Apfel, a member of Beit Hamidrash synagogue in Alwoodley, suggests the product would retail at around £15.99.
Rosie’s healthy kosher food range
Food-lover Rosie Ben-Shushan is proposing a novel food range that she believes could revolutionise the kosher food market.
She has developed a range of healthy Italian food products that are supervised by the London Beth-Din.
Ms Ben-Shushan’s products, branded Rosie’s, are all are gluten-free, sugar-free, lactose-free, low GI (glycemic index) and low-fat. “There really aren’t any other products like these,” says Ms Ben-Shushan, who is in her late 40s. “Yes, you can get sources from Yarden and Osem, but nothing compared to Rosie’s, which are so healthy.
“I really did feel that the kosher food market — and the general market — lacked healthy food products, such as sauces without sugar. This kind of product is in demand.”
Bombay-born Ms Ben-Shushan has already secured contracts with supermarket chain Budgens for the Rosie’s range. Asda has also expressed interest. The goods, made and packed in a factory in Puglia, Italy, are also stocked in kosher outlets and health-food stores. “I need to get it into multiple food stores and that’s where I need some assistance or investment — to move the company forward, expand the range, and make it a multi-million-pound business.”
She acknowledges there is increasing demand in the kosher market for good-quality and sophisticated international food. “Kosher has become big business within grocery retailing and food services.” She says the market is expected to grow by more than 15 per cent per year over the next few years in Europe, to a value of €5 billion.
Rosie’s products are also suitable for halal, vegans/vegetarians and diabetics. Popular items include its bruschetta topping, organic extra- virgin olive oil, sun-dried-tomato pesto and porcini-mushroom sauce. Prices range from between £1.99 and £3 per item. “The brand is all established. I just need to get it out there and ensure I have the resources to manufacture enough stock.”
Rosie’s warehouse is in Staples Corner, North London. Ms Ben-Shushan lives in Hendon.
Creativecraving.co.uk — an online marketplace for entrepreneurs
Hoping to profit from the vast growth of broadband adoption, internet businessman Darren Edels has come up with an online marketplace for other aspiring entrepreneurs.
His online company, creativecraving.co.uk, enables users to design and customise merchandise — such as posters, canvasses, clothes and mugs — and provides a free marketplace service where they can exhibit and sell them. Mr Edels handles all the printing, payment and dispatch. The aim is to encourage entrepreneurship, giving entrepreneurs the opportunity to make money and gain access to a wider market. Launched last year, the company cost more than £100,000 to establish. Mr Edels, 28, now wants to introduce his business to the experts.
“I know the concept works. I know people want to buy this stuff and I know people want to set up shops on our website. The Dragons are offering a huge amount of publicity and so it’s now about getting out there — to help create the online community — and that can be quite tough.”
Mr Edels studied international finance and banking at Brighton University before setting up his first internet-based company, Unibooks4u.com. But he is particularly excited about his latest venture. “In the Web 2.0 culture we inhabit, there has been an explosion in those seeking to be entrepreneurial and starting an online business by turning a hobby into a revenue stream. We can reach a much bigger audience by being online.
“The marketplace enables you to be entrepreneurial. The more publicity we can get the better. We are excited to get it out there for everybody to use.”
He lives in North London and is a member of Northwood and Pinner Liberal synagogue.