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Alumni interview: James Gordon founder of The Chocolate Bear Kitchen.


sam_1983-700x834When did you realise you wanted to start a business?

I’ve had a catering background since I was 16, when I first became a chef. 10 years ago it was less common to have diners with dietary needs, but when they did come in, as a pastry chef I was the first person to deal with them whilst the other chefs continued normal service. The head chef would pass me a piece of paper and a clipboard and tell me to go away and come up with a few dishes for them.

After uni, I started a recipe website and after a year hosted two pop-ups that specialised in catering for all dietary needs: which is the ethos of my company. We focus on creating a place where people of all diets can eat together: ‘Inclusive Eating’. People began asking me if I could do take-overs for them. I did one in particular for Yonder Collective that went down very well, and I thought, why am I taking a cut of the evening when I could do the whole evening myself?

Now you’re successfully funded, what’s the money going on?

The first bit went on paying some big deposits on festivals that we did this year including Shambala, Bestival and Camp Bestival. We made them back with profit but they are still quite large sums of money, and saved us from having to persuade a bank to give us a loan. It’s allowed us to rent an office and warehouse plus acquire a vehicle we use for transporting out equipment- the Bearmobile!

Plans for the remainder include the continuation of marketing, finding a permanent prep kitchen and expanding to another city. We’re also looking at getting more equipment so we can just pop up somewhere and be completely self reliant.

In a nutshell, what was it that made you decide to get help with your raise, and why Crowd10?

I was part of NatWest’s Entrepreneurial Spark programme and I was at the point in the business where, as a startup, we’d only been trading since May so it was quite early on. We were slowly growing organically and would have been doing the festivals anyway, but I thought if we had that big hit of money at the start to catalyse us, it would be a much more effective way. Particularly as with what I’m doing, time is of the essence.

The main thing about Crowd10 was the idea that there were 9 other companies doing it. The chance to collaborate and share ideas and the wave of social media 10 companies could generate was a huge bonus: being part of a South West initiative felt a lot more powerful than being one solo product.

If there’s one piece of advice you could give to people looking to Crowdfund their business what would it be?

I think the most successful thing we did was holding an event for selected guests. Get an event in the diary, give people the chance to grab a free seat and watch the crowdfunding videos. We did an event in Bristol for 50 potential investors, I had investment that evening from people who would not normally have heard about us, as did other companies. A showcase event like that gives you a chance to physically be in front of investors without going round to lots of different offices.

A big thank you to James for sharing this journey with us. 

You can visit the Chocolate Rear Kitchen website at, or Instagram @thechocolatebearkitchen and Twitter @thecbearkitchen.


The Chocolate Bear Kitchen are collaborating with The Strawberry Thief (Broad Street, Bristol) from November 1st to New Year, providing a ‘small plates’ menu that’s paired with a selection of their beautiful beers and wines.

We have a Sweet Potato Pizza Making Class on the 28th November at Pinkmans (Park Street, Bristol) and more exciting news to follow in 2017.

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This entry was posted on October 17, 2016 by in Branding, business mentor, Crowdfunding, Customer Support, Entrepreneurs, Marketing, Startups, Uncategorized.
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