This years LiON’S LAIR countdown is on! We are four weeks away from our 2018 Gala on thu SEPTEMBER 27th. To kick off the countdown, we are featuring 5 iF clients and past LiON’S LAIR contestants in our Client Spotlight. In this week’s spotlight, we caught up with Dolled Up Dessert to ask about their personal experience with LiON’S LAIR, as well as how their business has grown since they participated in the competition.
To purchase your tickets to this year’s Gala, click HERE!
What was the experience like doing Lion’s Lair?
Lion’s Lair inspired me to dream big about my business directions- and because of the prospect of having extra funding and services to grow my business, I built my dream. I founded Dolled Up Dessert with nothing but a desire to just make Hamilton more inclusive through gluten free and vegan desserts. I had no idea what was going to happen. When things started up, I had a hard time figuring out what was next. Lion’s Lair helped me think about what I wanted most. Despite not being the main winner, I still went ahead and built my dream. It’s still an ongoing process, but the foundations were laid thanks to my experience with Lion’s Lair.
I also love competitions, so being able to show off what I’ve built and plan to build puts me in my element. Lion’s Lair was the perfect combination of friendly support and learning, as well as that underlying tension of trying to win what was at stake. I loved every minute of it!
What advice would you give to the top ten finalists?
Own your brand in all that you do, especially in your pitch. Brand is more important then ever in an over saturated pit (not even a market, it’s a pit!) of advertising and messaging. Your brand is how your audience perceives your company and its product/services; you’ve got less than a few seconds for someone to judge it and determine if it’s worth their time. If the “Lions” can’t relate and understand your brand in any way immediately, then how do you expect them to understand and invest in you long term? If your brand keeps their attention, then convincing them that you’ve got what it takes to succeed is easy. You’ve made it to the top 10- you’re legitimate enough to pitch. Now it’s your time to shine and stand out. And you will stand out with a strong and clear brand.
What have you been doing since Lion’s Lair? Any updates?
Since Lion’s Lair, a lot has happened in our company, but as much as it seemed like my direction had changed completely, I’m now back on the same track as I was post Lion’s Lair. The biggest updates are that we now sell our baking mixes online and ship across North America. We also launched a YouTube channel starring me and all the fabulous recipes that can be made using our mixes. We will continue pursuing select retailers for our mixes, but plan to keep sales internal and build our online presence as the leaders of #inclusivedessert.
In other news, we’re going to announce our biggest project to date mid September. I can’t say too much now, but it’s something I always wanted to do. Although there were (and will be) many challenges that come with it, I think it’ll be the key to Dolled Up Desserts’ branding success.
What was your favourite or most memorable part of participating in Lion’s Lair?
Lion’s Lair was the first time in my business when I sat down and thought about my business goals and directions in the long term. I started Dolled Up Desserts only a year prior and did so on a whim without much forethought. The process of writing the pitch forced me to write a well thought out business plan. In turn it made me excited about what I could do, given all the success I had in the past.
What did you learn that you would not have if you had not participated in Lion’s Lair?
I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to learn how to write and present a business pitch. The approach iF takes with preparing businesses to pitch is incredibly helpful, especially to people like me who lack previous business experience. I don’t think I would have had the courage to do any other pitches, but because of this experience, I have the tools (and confidence) to wow any investor I talk to.
How has Innovation Factory and Lion’s Lair helped you on your journey?
The services offered at Innovation Factory are exceptional. As someone with no prior business experience, and as someone who works in food (us small food biz owners tend to be focused more on our technical work than the business at times), the mentors at iF have given me access to the resources and support I need to grow a business. From being a sounding board to helping me apply to extra funding, iF has been there. I’m so glad I’ve continued to access their services, and I know I will have their support in the future.