Business Leader recently spoke to Eloise Frank and Adam Chaudhri, co-founders of The Big London Bake – successful entrepreneurs, with backgrounds working for British Airways and its parent company IAG – who then made the step to organise an office bake-off competition. It proved such a hit with their colleagues that they realised there could be a gap in the market to commercialise the concept.
Can you give me an overview of Big London Bake?
The Big Bakes is the UK’s number one baking event. We now have award-winning venues in both London and Birmingham where guests take part in unique competitive baking sessions. Our baking venue gives everyone from friends and family to co-workers the chance to compete in a bake off. It is hosted in a beautiful fully kitted out marquee, with 12 idyllic bake stations, a treasure trove of customisable decorations and is led by a team of professional bakers. We change the theme every month with a bake that is always fun, delicious and can be customised as our guests wish!
When customers arrive they are adorned with all the ingredients, equipment and instructions they need to create a stunning bake. While the sponges are rising and the dough is cooking, competitors then have the chance to rummage Creation Corner to find the templates, colourings, flavours and decorations that will make their bakes truly unique. Each session is led and judged by our expert Head Bakers and then customers take home their creations for them to enjoy.
What was the inspiration behind the company?
It all started back in 2016, when we organised an office bake off with our team at work. We loved the creativity, fun and competition it led to, and it sparked an idea for us to create an experiential like no other.
We began to search for a baking based night out for our team. After a few days of hunting for a baking class in London we quickly realised there was nothing in the market light hearted, fun and accessible and we realised there was a gap in the market.
After a relentless period of recipe research, marquee meetings, property searching, bank meetings, professional baker interviews and so much more… we decided to buy a marquee and it was all go from there!
Can you tell me about your careers at BA and how it prepared you for your business venture?
Eloise Frank worked as the Global PR, Events and Partnerships Manager for British Airways and its parent company, IAG. Whilst Adam Chaudhri was Head of Marketing and Communications for IAG.
It was at this point that we met. We worked together for about a year on numerous high profile events, press launches and partnerships and realised that our yin and yang balance was the perfect fit to take our competitive baking idea further.
At the time of launching the business, we had both built up years of PR and Marketing experience. Working in a corporate environment meant that we had built up expertise in key skills such as event management, financial planning and organized global brand and marketing initiatives.
Although we had little in the way of baking experience, our experience meant we knew how to plan, design, hire for and launch our concept. Raising awareness of our now award winning event and getting our name out there was vital to us. We tapped into every press contact, rang every news desk and created and wrote our own press materials, videos and assets that we knew we needed in order to launch our business the right way. In our first couple months we secured national coverage in the likes of The Evening Standard, Buzzfeed, Timeout and many more and fast forward to today we have been on BBC Radio, Channel 4 and Sky.
How successful was your first event?
Despite our first event being for just friends and family, the pressure was still very much on. We hosted 4 ‘test events’ where we invited all our guinea pigs to give their honest opinions on where we could improve and what elements we could change.
We had to test the concept we had spent months planning for; for us it is vital that the finer details are perfect. For example, the timings, the session changeovers, how guests enter our venue to how they leave. Our first session to the public was opened by us and was about 70% full. We spoke to every customer to see what they thought. It was a truly amazing feeling as every single customer said they would be coming back with more friends, telling colleagues, one even said they would be booking a corporate booking the very next week. For us, happy customers is the true test of success, so we felt it went brilliantly!
And how did the business develop from this event?
Our business has grown from three employees to 23 currently working with us today. We initially launched as an idea for a summer pop up and now we are fully operational 12 months a year and seven days a week. We have been running for three years and grew from welcoming 4,500 customers down in 2017 to now having welcomed over 60,000 customers to both our London and Birmingham venues.
The event has evolved in an abundance of different ways, we have perfected and streamlined logistics, processes, designs and opened up our second venue in Birmingham in December 2019.
What are the future plans for the company?
We have built our dream team day out. Our next chapter takes our idea to new cities, with new locations opening in the UK in 2020 and beyond.