Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Inspiring Enterprising Graduates

Graduate profiles


TOMS Fudge Video Interview
Year of Study
2012

We launched TOMS Fudge in 2011 as a way of boosting our coffers during our second year. Since then, our handmade treats have proved so popular they now represent a successful full-time business for us.

What prompted you to set up on your own?

TOMS Fudge was only intended as a temporary part-time venture to earn a few extra pennies while we were studying. We never dreamed it would take off as a graduate business, but demand was so great we soon realised that we had tapped into a widespread craving for good quality handmade confectionery.

How did you get started?

We made our first batches to test on friends to see if we had a viable product. They loved it – which gave us the confidence to try it on a wider market.

We looked at various ways of trading, including at Loughborough’s legendary market. At the time, there was a three week wait for a pitch, but we wanted to get started straight away.

So, in the meantime, we set up a Facebook page to take orders and offered free delivery across campus and the surrounding area.

We were amazed by the response.

We are totally organically funded, and started with just £100 to spend on ingredients. So – depending on your business – you really don't always need a huge money-pot to get started.

Where is your company at now?

Being named the Best Retail Business at the University’s Think Big Awards in 2012 really helped us. The prize money let us to do the market research that has supported our growth and the Enterprise Office staff have helped us every step of the way.

Our company has grown from a small bicycle delivery service for sweet-toothed students to a nationally recognised brand of indulgent handmade fudge with more than 24 novel flavours including Eton Mess, Cherry Bakewell and Cappuccino as well as “guest flavours” like Apple Pie, Battenburg, and Chilli and Chocolate.

We’ve recently expanded our product range – introducing hot chocolate sticks and fudge sauces – but are keen to retain the handmade appeal of our products.

As well as trading at Loughborough, Melton and Stamford markets we are purveyors of favours and gifts to corporate events, weddings and other celebrations.

We have also attended a range of events across the country to establish the brand nationwide, including the Burghley Horse Trials, Nottingham Christmas Market, Olympia Horse Show and food festivals such as the Essex Food Fest, Really Wild Food Festival and the East Midlands Food Festival. As well as extending our market beyond Leicestershire, these events are a great way to meet our customers and get feedback on our product.

We still take orders through our Facebook page and keep customers up to date – on new flavours and upcoming events via Twitter. We supply by mail order and offer customers the chance to order online through our website. Furthermore we have also just launched Cow and Now – our liquid nitrogen ice cream venture.

Longer term, we are looking at the possibility of opening a TOMS Fudge cafe and shop.

Any words of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs?

If you have a decent business idea, don’t just sit on it. Talk it over with family and friends to explore its potential – but don’t let overly negative reactions put you off. Have faith in your instincts.

Finding a good business partner is important. Sharing the workload and ideas can really kick-start your business.

Cash is usually tight for start-ups. Budget carefully and look for the most cost-effective way of achieving your goals.

How would you describe your Loughborough experience?

Tom Mundy: My Loughborough Experience started in 2009 when I visited for the first time on an Open Day. I was impressed by the campus, the facilities and range of activities – and the sense that I was joining a busy student community.

Tom Revill: Having heard all about Loughborough, like Tom, I wasn’t disappointed when I got here. Another thing that really appealed was how my degree – Architectural Engineering and Design Management – was structured. Unlike a lot of other courses I looked at, it combined business and design elements rather than just focusing on one or the other. I also enjoyed the amount of group work it involved. It was good to learn from each other and apply the theory to solve “real” problems whilst developing transferable skills like project management.

Tom Mundy: Yes, those sorts of skills serve us well now that we’re running a business. Although our degree subjects may seem at odds with running a confectionery company, they gave us the knowledge and confidence to take the plunge and launch TOMS Fudge. We’re also comfortable doing practical things like putting together industry-standard presentations to pitch ideas effectively.

Tom Revill: One of our early presentations was to the University’s Enterprise Office as part of the Think BIG! competition in 2012. We won £1,000 to invest in the business – it went a long way at that critical early stage.

Tom Mundy: The Enterprise Office was helpful in other ways too – really encouraging and supportive of our business idea. In fact, there’s a lot of activity across campus to help student businesses, in the classroom and out.

Tom Revill: Not that we had much time out of the classroom during our second year to do much beside make fudge and get on our bikes to deliver it…

Tom Mundy: But we did meet lots of people – customers who became friends. We were also members of the photography club for a while which has paid off in some great shots of our products for the website.

Our three years at Loughborough brought us together and gave us the skills, confidence and opportunity to launch a business that we’re proud of.

Deciding to study here is one of the best decisions you could make!