Sweet Pizzas: A slice of startup success

July 2, 2015 9:56 am The UK Domain

Founder, Jonny Craft, tells us his startup story and how having an online presence has played a big part in Sweet Pizzas’ success.

Sweet beginnings

“The idea came to me one weekend while browsing the web. I immediately presumed they would be out there in their droves but after checking Instagram and Pinterest and just seeing a small handful of dessert pizzas made for fun, I decided to make one myself.

I sent my sister, who was due to get married the following year, a text about the idea and she replied with a photo of a cutting from her wedding magazine that said Sweet Pizzas was a current trend. After further research I found a few restaurants, mostly in London, who were serving them up on their dessert menus, but still no one was really making them for sale.

I decided to make a prototype and post a photo of it on my Facebook page. People loved it! Before long friends, and friends of friends, started asking for them. I created a private Facebook group and invited friends and family to it so we could throw some ideas around. It was then I decided to really put the wheels in motion and register the business.”

Getting online

“I’m a web designer by trade, so the next natural step for me was to create a website. I got the ball rolling by registering a domain name. As a UK-based company I felt that having a .co.uk domain was important to show my British roots, and so sweetpizzas.co.uk was born.

I decided early on that I wanted to build the site on WordPress, as I’m so familiar with it. Before choosing the theme for my website I looked at other cupcake and bakery websites and decided what features I wanted to implement. I then choose a theme and customised it to how I wanted it to look.

With more and more people using mobiles and tablets, I decided to pick a responsive theme that scaled down perfectly on all devices. Looking at recent analytics, 55% of the site’s monthly traffic is coming from mobile and other handheld devices, which shows this is a really important factor to consider when designing your website.”

Driving traffic

“With my website design background, I’m fortunate to have a pre-existing knowledge of SEO and what helps a site rank. I knew ranking for my business name would be fairly easy, but to boost this and rankings for keywords such as ‘Brownie Pizza’ and ‘Dessert Pizza’, I collaborated with lots of bloggers. I offered free samples and attended fashion events and blogger meet-ups in London. In turn, these bloggers wrote posts about Sweet Pizzas and shared them with their followers. Most including a branded link back to our website, which helped us to the top of Google search.

Social media has also been vital to driving traffic. I took my first big order for 20 pizzas from a fashion event through Twitter and make about 75% of my weekly sales through enquiries from Facebook. I’ve found that running a monthly competition on Facebook and Twitter, alongside paid ads to generate further sales, has worked wonderfully well so far.”

Hurdles and highlights

“Since starting out, one of the biggest challenges has been cash flow. When I began supplying my first regular client, their payment terms were 31 days from invoice so the initial month was very tough. I also juggle a full-time job, so this limits me to working on Sweet Pizzas in the evenings. To make sure I can fulfill each order, I work to a 24-48 hour turnaround time. This allows me to have all the ingredients and packaging ready to go.

On the flipside, I’ve experienced many highlights, including winning an #SBS (Small Business Sunday) award from Theo Paphitis last Christmas. For this award, he earmarks small businesses he likes the look of and retweets their details to his vast following. This opened many doors for me. Sweet Pizzas were also shortlisted in the Guardian online for its Startup of the Year 2014 award.”

Top tips

“My top piece of advice to other entrepreneurs getting started online is to do your research. Web designers charge totally different prices. Expensive doesn’t necessarily mean great. Alternatively, do a little reading on WordPress, find a great theme and you can set up a website yourself for very little cost.”

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