Chocolate Millionaire Gives Entrepreneurs His Recipe For Success

Entrepreneurs in Exeter have been given some tips for success by a man who made his fortune out of chocolate.

James Averdieck founded Gü Chocolate Puds in 2003 and since then it has grown into a £25m turnover business.  He shared some of the lessons he learned along the way before presenting awards to the latest crop of businesspeople to complete the Institute of Directors' Company Direction Programme, delivered by the University of Exeter Business School.

Giving advice on starting up in business, James said: "The first thing is to find a parking space where no one else has found a parking space.  Find this new part of the market and hopefully this parking space can turn into your own car park.

"The sceond thing is to have a good product.  I spent God knows how long trying to create that chocolate souffle and I still spend about 25 per cent of my time on product and brand development."

He also spoke of importance of standing out from the crowd and getting people talking about your brand.

After the launch phase, James said the most important thing was getting the right team around him.  He also advised entrepreneurs: "Stand in your own queues.  See what it's like to be a customer in your own business.

"Finally, it's very important to keep on taking risks, pushing the boat out a bit and seeing how you can grow a little bit more."

Among those collecting their certificates or diplomas in Company Direction was Dr Stanley Gyoshev, a lecturer in finance at the University of Exeter who is also chairman of Lessno, a New York-based on-line travel agency.  Lessno is set to launch in the UK next year.

Dr Gyoshev said: "My performance as chairman of the board of directors has improved significantly because of the course.  There are three reasons for doing a course: gaining knowledge, meeting interesting people and getting a shiny diploma which has credibility, and the IoD has gven me all three."

Also receiving awards were Paul Banks, founder of Sowton-based catering company Fresha, and Ian Rick, finance director of Newton Abbot-based meal maker Pasta King.

Mr Banks said: "It's given me a lot of confidence and skills to manage my company as it grows, and it's probably put me in a position to take it to the next level in size."

Ann Cullum, IoD programme manager at the University, said around 150 people had completed the course in the six years it has been running.

"The absolute joy of this programme is that it pulls together the reality of industry with robust, academic thinking and is extremely relevant to what happens on a day-to-day basis, being director specific," she said.

"It's really about understanding their legal responsibilities, good corporate governance, and looking at how to run their company strategically."

For more information about the IoD Company Direction Programme contact directordev@exeter.ac.uk, telephone +44 (01) 392 722578 or visit the Company Direction Programme. Significant bursaries are being offered to anyone who books during December 2008 or who may be facing redundancy.

(As published in the Express and Echo by Gordon Richardson)

Date: 25 November 2008

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