A recipe for success

Valerie Creusailor (pictured below) is a co-founder of Goch & Co, a Welsh company specialising in vegan products including jams, chutneys, sauces, oils, and cereals in Wales. Valerie is also a Member of the Food and Drink Wales Industry Board.

“I guess I would describe the business as a culinary adventure born out of passion, appreciating the deep flavours of African cuisine. Having grown up surrounded by incredible culinary diversity, I was inspired to share these flavours with a broader audience. The unique spices, herbs, roots, and seasonings from Africa play a pivotal role in defining the character of our products.

"Embarking on this culinary journey, was fuelled by motivating reviews from friends and family,” she shared. "My sauces and jams were always a hit during gatherings, with many urging me to take them to the market. We whipped up a batch and set up shop at a local food festival. To my astonishment, we sold out within the first day of the three-day event. It was a whirlwind of success, but I hadn't made enough, sparking the realisation that maybe, just maybe, a business venture was within reach.

Leaving her Audit and Finance background, she decided to transform her side hustle into a full-fledged venture, giving birth to Goch & Co.

“I possess strong financial acumen due to my background, but starting and running a food manufacturing business is an entirely different beast," Valerie reflected. "The requirements are vastly diverse, and it was a true eye-opener. I hadn't grasped the intricacies of compliance with health and safety regulations, trading standards, and all the protocols governing food production. I quickly realised that I needed support and guidance, and that's when I found NatWest.”

Having access to experts with invaluable contacts and the wisdom they imparted proved to be priceless

Collaborating in the kitchen (and our Cardiff Accelerator Hub)

Valerie met representatives of our bank at a Business Wales event. "As I immersed myself in the world of startups, I unearthed opportunities, from funding to the food and drink accelerator hub," Valerie said. "Meeting a NatWest representative sealed the deal for me.

"In the crucial early stages, having access to experts with invaluable contacts and the wisdom they imparted proved to be priceless. I gained insights into effective marketing, honed the art of narrating my business story to potential investors, and became part of a vibrant community of like-minded entrepreneurs.

"Forging meaningful connections within the hub not only influenced our strategic approach but also provided a broader perspective. It prompted me to confront tough questions about the 'direction of travel' and my role in steering the business. Having a community attuned to the nuances of my sector has been truly invaluable.

"While I may yearn to linger in the hub indefinitely, the support doesn't cease even after departure; I maintain regular contact with several individuals from the bank, including Blessing and Julia. These enduring relationships are something I genuinely cherish.

Blessing Mutamba, Business Inclusion Programme Manager, said: "During Valerie’s time on the accelerator, we focused on her personal development as well as her entrepreneurial journey. For example, one topic Valerie and I talked about was her not burning out and how to overcome the feeling of always being needed in the business.

"Valerie is a qualified auditor, so we also explored how she could transfer some of her skills and knowledge from her previous corporate career into running the business. A great thing about the Accelerator is that it’s an entrepreneur accelerator, rather than a business accelerator because the person driving the company’s progress is just as important but can sometimes have different needs. Each person’s journey will be different, so taking the time to know Valerie, helped build a strong foundation for making sure she got the most out of her tailored coaching sessions as well as all the wrap around support."

Julia Adams, Enterprise Acceleration Manager, added: "Through our sessions, Valerie realised that she could no longer do everything herself, even though she had staff, she was very involved in every day-to-day procedure and process and everything came back to her. This created significant workload and stress for her and impacted on her work-life balance.

"In our last session, she could see how she had moved from an operational and infrastructure focused role into a leadership and strategic position. She felt that she understood the business side of things more and that she was more in control of the business so could look at growth more creatively and lead into the future."

Valerie joined our programme remotely due to the distance she was located from Cardiff. She then migrated into the Digital Hub offering when then was set up following the re-opening of the physical spaces after the Covid pandemic.

Getting on the shelves

While acknowledging that her sector is competitive, Valerie believes in the quality of her offering. "Amidst the fiery competition of hot sauces and condiments ours will always stand out," she said. "Our premium offerings grace various domestic and international markets, from retail spaces like hampers and gifting, food halls, delis, and small grocers to high street shops, garden-centres, tourism, foodservice establishments and more.

"We actively participate in Trade Shows, including NEC, Farm Shop & Deli Show and the bi-annual Blas Cymru/Taste Wales, providing excellent access to domestic and international buyers. These events offer valuable insights into the food and drink industry, resulting in numerous opportunities for us."

Some of Goch & Co's products

“The future for Goch & Co is incredibly thrilling," Valerie said. "We're gearing up for exciting new product launches and building on the success of our previous offerings. Moreover, we're exploring opportunities for market expansion, both locally and internationally. Our subsidiary business VUKA, is offering premium, sustainable free from superfoods, including our plant-based cereals, which have received positive resonance from our audience.

"From my own experience, I would advise aspiring entrepreneurs to seek support and guidance, connect with relevant networks, and leverage resources. NatWest taught me the value of such assistance. Adapt to the unique challenges of your chosen industry, continuously learn, and foster lasting relationships within the business community. I recommend a mindset of proactivity and resilience, underlining that the entrepreneurial journey is both collaborative and constantly evolving."

Accelerator hubs

Through our 13 Accelerator hubs NatWest Group supported over 1,300 entrepreneurs during 2023, offering access to business expertise and a community of like-minded peers

Supporting UK enterprise in 2023 data taken from our '2023 Environmental, Social and Governance Disclosures Report', available on our Enterprise internet page.

The material published on this page is for information purposes only and should not be regarded as providing any specific advice, or used by consumers to make financial decision. Terms and conditions apply to any products or services mentioned.

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