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Perfect Samosa is an artisan, gourmet samosa business run by mother and daughter team, Kay and Sanya Wadud. Producing high-quality sweet and savoury fusion flavoured samosas, the business, which has been operating since 2015, is based in the University of Chester’s NoWFOOD Centre.

The company sells its products through farmers’ markets and food festivals, attracting a loyal customer base of ‘Samocerers’.

The business, which has recently been rebranded, started life in the family kitchen. It has already received numerous accolades including the BBC Good Food Champions for excellence and innovation, and is currently shortlisted in two categories in the Liverpool Food and Drink Awards. Kay and Sanya were also selected to be part of Samsung’s wearable tech campaign, which featured successful mother and daughter teams. Perfect Samosa has grown rapidly over the last three years and the duo now run a small production factory in Chester with eight staff, and four sales ambassadors.

Cooking up a storm

A key challenge for any successful SME business is how to develop and grow beyond the original parameters of the business. Perfect Samosa had reached a tipping point of either maintaining its focus on food festivals and farmers’ markets or developing the business to reach new markets. The business found it had fully developed its customer base and capacity, at food festivals and farmers markets across the North West and North Wales. Kay and Sanya decided to take stock and identify how their business model and processes could be improved.

Food for thought

As tenants of the University, the Perfect Samosa team was well placed to find out about initiatives and funding opportunities available to them. The Innovation to Commercialisation (I2C) project offered an invaluable opportunity for Kay and Sanya to take a step back from the day-to-day running of the business and focus on the business’ development instead. Following a quick and simple process with the I2C project’s business development manager,

Kay and Sanya soon found out they met the necessary criteria and were successfully registered on the project. As a starting point, the two attended a two-day I2C foundation workshop. The workshop has been specifically designed to provide SME businesses with the organisational tools and help to ensure a systematic approach to innovation readiness, concept generation, development and validation. With these in place organisations are better positioned to effectively create, develop and benefit from new products, processes and services.

Feeding the business community

Following the I2C Foundation workshop Sanya Wadud explained:

“In recent times, our growth has been limited by the number of events we can attend in any given week, so we needed to identify a different route to market. These two days have really helped us clarify our thinking. Not only have been able to look at our processes and improve them – like refining our process in a natural way to lengthen the shelf-life of our samosas, but the workshop has also given us focused time to work on our business and really think about what we want to do next.”

“We have already catered a number of events in the past, but following the workshop, we have identified a potential gap in the catered events market. Many businesses host breakfast and lunch meetings, and during our market research we got the gist that some people felt that the food available could do with a shake-up and some diversification. We think our samosa platters and complementary fusion foods and drinks will capture the imagination. Kay Wadud

“One of our biggest developments this year has been the Full English Breakfast samosa, which works very well at breakfast networking and meetings. We’ve taken a traditional product and incorporated eastern and western cultures to create a fusion of taste. We’ve also thought about how to get all the health benefits in there too, because we cater for all dietary needs.”

The I2C initiative was part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. SMEs registered or trading in Cheshire and Warrington, who met the eligibility criteria, were eligible to apply for support from the I2C project. Applicants had to have a turnover of less than €50 million and employ fewer than 250 employees. In addition to I2C’s in-house team of engineers and specialist equipment, SMEs that enrol in the project had access to the world-class facilities at the University of Chester, via its state-of-the-art skills, equipment and resources based at Thornton Science Park and the NoWFOOD Centre in Chester.

The I2C project has now finished but if you are a business looking for access to facilities and expert growth support, please contact the University of Chester’s Business Growth team either by visiting www1.chester.ac.uk/business-growth, emailing businessgrowth@chester.ac.uk or you can call 01244 512 477.