Pieminister founder shares his 7 top tips for starting and growing a business

Susie Parker
Digital Marketing Manager | Business West
16th September 2014

We were lucky enough to have some time to listen to Tristan Hogg, one half of Bristol's famous Pieminister, to glean his top tips on starting and growing a business during a talk to young entrepreneurs at the latest Virgin StartUp Live event in Bristol.

Tristan, together with his partner-in-pie, Jon Simon, founded the award-winning Pieminister from humble beginnings. Inspired by a shared vision for pie, and urged on by the delicious quality of pies served up in Oz, a name was conjured up on Bondi beach. They acquired a derelict Paintworks building in the edgy Stokes Croft area of Bristol and transformed it into a successful pie kitchen and shop; and are now leading the way in pie culture through an impressive network of restaurants, pubs, festivals and shops across the UK, Ireland and Amsterdam.

Tristan shares with us his top 7 tips for entrepreneurs starting out and the secrets of Pieminister's success.

1. Mentors, money, and plans

Tristan and Jon found a mentor at the very beginning, who helped them to develop their plan and realise their vision by providing their first funding, which further helped them to access match-funding from the bank.

2. Be realistic

Tristan urges us that keeping things real in your plan is key; "don't over promote, make it realistic".

3. Build a brand

Start with capturing the values that you would like your business and products to reflect and build your brand from there. "Pieminister is friendly, honest and fun - with a GSOH - but serious about fresh food and good provenance."

4. Testing, testing, testing

Test everything! Tristan and Jon both continue to test and trial all that they do, from working in a deli to visiting the Women's Institute.

5. Grow and multiply

Take gradual steps but don't be afraid to explore new opportunities to grow your business, such as in new markets - in their case through weddings, festivals, shops, supermarkets, deli's and pubs - and importantly in delivering to multiple customers. As Tristan says, "No one customer owns your business." Also, be alert to when the mood is right to develop, and the best opportunities to market and get more customers.

6. Listen and learn

Know your customers and what it is they want, then give it to them in as many relevant different ways as possible so that they can access your product easily how and when they want to.

7. Bring in skills

You can't be good at everything so be sure to bring in other people with better skills to help you manage and grow your business, such as an Accountant... Get an Accountant! And the thing you're good at? Do it well.

From a humble pie and mash kitchen in Bristol, Pieminister now makes 80,000 pies a week, with plans to open a further 20 shops.  As they say on their website, they're very much leading the life of Pie!


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