When Tom Honey was just 16, he and four friends travelled between campsites with a pop-up pizza restaurant. Initially Tom had the simple idea to make some cash selling pizzas to campers; he never expected the reaction that the venture received.
Is it was Tom that had the brilliant business idea, he asked his friends to help him out as employees. With nothing more than a small pizza oven, a couple of tables and some fresh ingredients, the team would get to work preparing the pizzas in full view of the hungry campers. Tom soon realised that his customers loved this concept of ‘kitchen theatre’; they could watch their food being made and chat to the team about where the produce was sourced from.
Tom had really enjoyed his pizza making campsite experience and was beginning to seriously consider establishing it as a restaurant. Studying for his A-Levels, Tom was drawn to the idea of being his own boss. He had a passion for his business but knew that he needed funding to turn his dream into a reality.
After doing some research online, Tom discovered Virgin StartUp and contacted Business West Business Adviser Alyson Eyval. Alyson explained the full range of support available through the Start & Grow programme and Tom was delighted to realise that mentoring was included. Working closely with Alyson, Tom completed his business plan and applied for his start-up loan, successfully receiving £25,000.
“Without the Start & Grow programme my business journey would have stopped before it even began. I hope that a lot more young people can find Business West and the Start & Grow programme to establish their business ideas. It gives them the option to go down a different route in life if university isn’t for them. They can spend three years establishing a business that they are passionate about, instead of being unsure of what to do after school.”
Tom Honey, Stoned
With finance under his belt and a wealth of support at his disposal, Tom launched the pizza restaurant Stoned in Devon. The restaurant features an open kitchen to retain his love of ‘kitchen theatre’ and also features an ice-cream cart, cleverly called Coned, in addition to an in-house bakery. He has employed 42 members of staff, most of which are part time and the business is unique as it is run by young people (the eldest is 24 and Tom himself is 20).
Now that Tom’s first restaurant is up and running (and successful!) he wants to expand as quickly as possible. Currently looking to find an additional site to open in summer 2018, Tom and Stoned will continue to receive support from the Business West Start & Grow team.