September 2020

Minnie overcomes lockdown challenges to mark first year of mobile catering business

By Darren Campbell

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A hospitality student from University College Birmingham has offered tips and encouragement for other budding business owners as her mobile catering firm approaches its first anniversary.

Minnie Fox was working in a pizza restaurant at the NEC during the placement year of her Hospitality Business Management BA (Hons) degree course when she was inspired to launch her own mobile food business, Minnie's Mobiles.

Launched in October 2019, the company provides catering for a range of events and parties across the Midlands, with freshly prepared stonebaked pizzas, a fully licensed bar and a non-alcoholic bar.

Having learned all about making and selling pizzas on her placement, not to mention the essentials of bar and hospitality management on her course, Minnie was soon arranging everything from suppliers, marketing and licensing to sourcing her own branded trailer and gazebo, with further support from her family.

By November, she was making over 100 pizzas for a Bonfire Night event before providing catering for a Christmas party at a local rugby club, with more events having been lined up over the spring and summer – before the coronavirus pandemic put her plans on hold.

That didn't stop Minnie though. Despite having to delay business activities during lockdown, Minnie's Mobiles was soon back in action in July providing catering for meetings and businesses, with more event bookings lined up stretching as far as August 2021.

Offering advice for other student entrepreneurs facing the unique challenges posed by the pandemic this year, Minnie said: "It's just about thinking positively.

"Once we get out of this, what do we have, what can we book for the next few months or next year – just looking forward and not dwelling on what I haven't been able to do.

"I would definitely say not to panic about what's happened. I've just been looking forward thinking how I can make up for it, what extra events I can do, how I can promote things and get the business back out there."

Minnie revealed how her experiences at University College Birmingham have helped her get her business off the ground – from the knowledge gained in her lectures to her placement experience as well as support from the University's Enterprise Hive.

"I learned a lot from my finance classes, how to do gross profit and all the knowledge behind how to run a business," she said. "I did pub management last semester which gave me more information on how to look for trends... Lots of things you don't realise you need to know but are extremely useful.

"I would definitely say not to panic about what's happened. I've just been looking forward thinking how I can make up for it"

Minnie Fox Hospitality Business Management BA (Hons)

"I had the best experience on placement. My mentor was really helpful and gave me lots of information on events, paperwork and setting up a business, as well as answering any questions I had. I really enjoyed it.

"I met with Nethan in Enterprise Hive and he told me what I needed and how I should write a business plan," she added. "He gave me so much information and examples from other ex-students who I could look at.

"My parents have also supported me. They've given me so much time and have helped me with every event I have done so far."

Hospitality lecturer Shivaun Caffrey said: "Minnie has shown great determination and enthusiasm setting up Minnie’s Mobiles.

"She has taken full advantage of the knowledge and resources available via the Enterprise Hive, as well as various training opportunities and mentor guidance while working at the NEC during her placement."

Minnie is far from alone in balancing her studies with setting up a business. New research published by Santander UK this week revealed over a quarter of students are running – or plan to run – their own firm while at university.

If you are a budding entrepreneur, our Enterprise Hive provides a range of start-up support for University College Birmingham students looking to launch their own businesses, from expert consultations to industry mentoring and even a start-up grant – find out more here.

Interested in a future working in food and hospitality? University College Birmingham offers industry-focused study and training at college, undergraduate and postgraduate level, as well as a variety of apprenticeships – check out our range of courses here.

Visit the Minnie's Mobiles website here, or follow on Facebook and Instagram.

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