Sisters who set up a business selling low calorie chocolate drinks have been named runners-up in a competition to find the brightest young entrepreneurs in the region.
Twins, Stella and Jodi Kean, took the second prize of £2,500 in the annual Blueprint Business Planning Competition, which celebrates the best business ideas from graduates, undergraduates and alumni of the five North East universities.
Stella and Jodi came up with their idea for their business, called Choclateas, while studying at Northumbria University. With support from the University’s Enterprise Campus scheme, the sisters have developed their idea, which combines the worlds of tea and confectionery to produce sweet-flavoured tea drinks at less than 20 calories per cup.
Enterprise Campus provides advice, support and tangible assistance, including access to office space and IT equipment, to students and graduates wanting to start or develop their own business.
Choclateas products are now stocked by more than 20 companies including Fenwicks, Virgin Media and boutique hotels, and the sisters have expanded their range to include new flavours such as vanilla, liquorice and rhubarb and custard.
Stella, who graduated with a masters degree in International Human Resources Management, and Jodi, who graduated with a degree in Early Years Education, are now in discussions to sell their range in large national retailers.
Stella explained: “Coffee shop chains often sell the same kind of drinks and we wanted to create a healthy drink without many calories or additives, which was a bit fun and different.
“We had the idea for the business when we were both studying at Northumbria and we approached the University’s Enterprise Campus scheme to see if we could get any help to develop it. We’ve benefitted from loads of support in terms of developing our business plan and access to office resources and we have been given mentoring and guidance from experts in business, finance and marketing.”
Lucy Winskell, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Business and Engagement at Northumbria University, said: “Northumbria prides itself on being a professional university with a real-world business focus. We work with more than 560 employers; we are rated as one of the top 10 universities in the UK for graduates entering professional employment, and the opportunities available both within and outside of the curriculum to help students to develop their entrepreneurial skills are just some of the reasons why students are attracted to studying with us.
“Enterprise Campus has supported over 70 businesses in a range of industries over the last two years, and we are delighted that Stella and Jodi’s efforts and achievements have been recognised by the Blueprint judges.”
Stella added: “If any students have the idea for a business then I would definitely say ‘go for it’ as you never know what could happen. The support we’ve had from the University has been really good and has definitely helped us in terms of meeting the right people to help us take our business forward.”
Click here for more information on the types of support available to students, graduates and alumni of Northumbria University through Enterprise Campus.
Chocolateas products are available to buy online here
Date posted: October 3, 2013
Northumbria is a research-rich, business-focussed, professional university with a global reputation for academic excellence. To find out more about our courses go towww.northumbria.ac.uk