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Project D reflects on Generation Next Awards success

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Posted by: JasmineThompson
Posted on: 14/04/2022

Among the Generation Next Awards winners last year was Project D, an artisan doughnut bakery based in Derby that has used social media to grow rapidly during the pandemic. Its three founders, who received the Entrepreneur of the Year category, sponsored by Fraser Stretton Property Group, spoke to Jasmine Thompson at a Generation Next event.

What’s been the company’s journey to reach this point?

Jacob Watts (strategic director): I ran a gardening and landscape business before the three of us got together and decided we wanted to set up something related to food. We’d never made a doughnut previously, but spent hours researching different ways to make them before we found the perfect one.

The pandemic hit us really hard to begin with because we had three shops that closed. It took us about a week to work out what to do with our time and the staff we had.

For a while, we were selling eggs and flour as there were shortages, before we decided to set up a delivery service and the pop-up stalls we now have.

You’ve been a real hit on social media – how have you used these platforms to grow the business?

Max Poynton (operations director): Our whole business is built on social media. We started with about 12,000 followers on Instagram and now have 135,000 (most recent figure is 140,000), while there’s about 100,000 people following us on Facebook.

Our customers love new flavours and combinations, so combining that with new content we’ve put a lot of thought into has been key to the success of our business.

We’re now trying to build a TikTok presence and recently launched a YouTube channel because the important thing is to evolve with everything else that’s happening.

What does the future hold for the business?

Matthew Bond (creative director): Having started with the humble doughnut, it’s taken us on an incredible journey. We’re always looking to improve on that and we’re currently testing a new recipe we think people will love.

Project D will also expand into protein doughnuts and potentially other products like cake truffles and doughnut ice cream cones. It’s about continuing to developing fresh new products that people might not be expecting.

How did it feel to win the Generation Next Entrepreneur of the Year title?

Jacob: It’s the best award I’ve personally ever won so it’s amazing.

Max: The same for all of us – and off the back of this, we’ve met some great people we can work with.

 

The Generation Next Awards are currently open for nominations, and applications close on 3 May. The programme is open to both members and non-members of the network, and will be celebrated on 14 July at Bustler Market in Derby.

Generation Next is a support network by East Midlands Chamber for young professionals aged between 18 and 35 based in the East Midlands. Its membership package gives young workers access to its events programme – which connects delegates with likeminded individuals, as well as leading business professionals from across the region, to build their networks and skills.

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