Meet the young entrepreneur hoping to keep festive celebrations ongoing all year round with his business selling greeting cards and crackers.
Aadam Patel was just seven years-old when he noticed there was “a lack of festive products aimed at the Muslim market for our celebrations”. He also was disappointed to note that come Eid there were no cards or crackers to celebrate with, so initially he started created them for friends and family.
He has since realised such products don’t have to just be for the festive season, as some of his initial customers started purchasing them for dinner parties with family and friends. With Halal Celebrations, he has created a business aiming to “bring friends and family together and give them a cracking memorable time”.
Patel has been home-schooled for the past two years in order to help accelerate his studying. The structure also has the benefit of allowing him to focus on Halal Celebrations. After hearing about accelerator programme Entrepreneurial Spark on the radio, Patel applied for a place at the inaugural Brighton intake and won a spot alongside 79 other entrepreneurs.
He said the “ongoing support has been phenomenal”, while the business mindset and entrepreneurial behaviour he has developed as a result has been integral to helping his business start up “in a very lean and effective way”.
While there, he won a pitching contest, receiving £1,000 for impressing a judging panel consisting of Alison Rose, Ross McEwan, Howard Davies and Warren Morgan with his 60 second business pitch. His advice for a successful pitch centres around impact. “Start it with a statement that will connect with the audience, then present the problem and the solution,” he explained, before you then get round to what you actually need to make it a reality.
Still in his teens, Patel has a savvy business mind – no doubt honed during his time learning from mentors at Entrepreneurial Spark. He advises others to “pivot your business plan from market research findings for your product or service that you’re in” and thinks accelerator programmes can be helpful for challenging entrepreneurs as well as helping their business flourish.
Halal Celebrations will be launching in December 2015, with a website allowing customers to fully personalise their crackers and a range of choices of gifts for what can go inside the products. It’s just in time for the festive season of course, but Patel stressed the products will be available throughout the year for all occasions and not just limited to Christmas.
The range will branch out – covering baby showers, birthday parties and wedding favour crackers, so he’s hoping to establish a steady enough cash flow for the whole year round, not entirely reliant on one season.
Finance has of course been a challenge. He said his initial small order “contributes to high start up costs”, but another advantage of using accelerator programmes like Entrepreneurial Spark is that many offer free office spaces. This is beneficial first and foremost in providing a good place to work, but also in cultivating relationships among entrepreneurs as well as mentors.
Patel said the free office space and associated overheads offered by Entrepreneurial Spark has negated the high start up costs he was initially facing, helping get Halal Celebrations into a better starting place.
Patel has been looking for ways to run his own business from an early age – at six he was making his own mince pies to sell on the local high street, as well as going door-to-door. Then before Entrepreneurial Spark he bought a boarded-up property in a run-down part of Lancashire through an auction, “assuming the logistics of coordinating trade for the project”, learning everything from the importance of building good relationships to how to negotiate effectively with an estate agent.
His entrepreneurial outlook has then been present for a while, and just needed some directing. By joining Entrepreneurial Spark Patel was presented with the opportunity to “nurture and grow” his new venture in a “safe learning environment”. It’s there that business ideas and concepts are rigorously questioned, challenges posed and solutions pitched, and seeing Halal Celebrations withstand the numerous tests there, means Patel has a renewed confidence about the future prospects of his business.