“a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit”.
RICKY DEAMER – CAB4-1
Ricky Deamer used to be a courier driver. In fact, he’s spent all his working life as a delivery driver around London and Essex. In true entrepreneurial style, and fuelled by the desire to be his own boss, Ricky managed to find a niche within the transport industry which he believed could make him successful. “I remember taking a cab from Sawbridgeworth to Roydon,” he said over coffee, “which was already overpriced. Only for then the cab company sent a people carrier and charged double for my return. They were charging for the vehicle and the extra seats, despite the fact I was a single passenger.”
And thus the concept of CAB4-1 was born. What if, reasoned Ricky, a minicab company ran only single passenger vehicles? If it only utilised ‘Smart’ cars then the running costs would be demonstrably lower. There would be no road tax to pay for example, and the vehicles could achieve 50 to 60 miles per gallon. These savings could then be passed on to the consumer. There is a huge customer base of passengers – who regularly journey alone – who would benefit from not travelling in a five-door diesel with all of its additional expenses.
The lower emissions from Smart cars ticks all the right environmental boxes too. Setting up the company was not an easy process, in fact getting through the existing ‘red tape’ took almost nine months. Smart cars do not fulfil any minicab regulations and as a result, Ricky had to plead his case to use such vehicles to the licensing committee at the East Herts council chambers before being allowed to trade. With that, all done and said even then CAB4-1 was only allowed to be ‘Private Hire/Pre-Book’ only. “I’m sure it was the economic and environmental advantages that swayed licensing committee in the end, but it was quite nerve-wracking.”
Ricky’s company is self-funded and now has four cars on the books. In the first month, they took only 40 calls, by the end of September that was up to an average of 170 per day. Ricky explains this growth simply: “We offer old-fashioned value for money (discounts to pensioners and pregnant women for example) and courtesy to our customers. I have tried to combine minicab, chauffeur and customer care all in one.
If it’s raining why shouldn’t you be greeted at your front door by the driver with an umbrella to escort you into the car?
We agree, Ricky.
James Ecclestone – The Grown Up Chocolate Company
It’s hard to imagine that this rather small and nondescript unit is home to a confectionary business that is manufacturing anything between 80-100 thousand chocolate bars per week. And these are not ordinary chocolate bars either. Imagine if Jimmy Choo was a chocolatier or if Ralph Lauren gave up making frocks and turned his hand to praline and nougat? Something like that.
The owner, James Ecclestone, took Harlow Stories on a brief tour of the premises complete with lab coat and hair net. If you’re a chocoholic like me it was like dying and going to Heaven – gently, churning vats of white and dark chocolate, slabs of chocolate bars and mouth-watering ingredients everywhere.
The processes are honed to perfection as you might expect from a company that produces 2.3 million chocolate bars a year for Virgin Atlantic alone.
The Grown Up Chocolate Company relocated to Harlow from Enfield in 2013 and now employs a dedicated staff of 25. ‘Chocolate needs to be created in very controlled conditions’ explained James, ‘It’s imperative that humidity isn’t allowed to affect the product. When we moved here we needed to be able to purchase the unit freehold because of the alterations that are necessary to create a high-quality chocolate. We invested £167k alone just in insulating the walls and ceilings”.
The Company is ambitious, with 25% of its produce is currently exported but this looks like a figure likely to rise. ‘The idea behind our Grown Up Chocolate bars is that they are reminiscent of the bars we ate as children but reimagined for Grown Ups only’.
I can’t remember the chocolate I ate as a child tasting quite that good…