Founders of The Cheeky Panda, which has been supplying the market with eco-friendly bamboo-based toilet paper since January 2016, have been nominated as finalists for the ‘Duke of York New Entrepreneur of the Year’ category of The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards 2017.
The Duke of York New Entrepreneur of the Year Award acknowledges those demonstrating the entrepreneurial aptitude, commercial acumen, vision, ambition and drive to build a successful enterprise. It aims to celebrate the potential that exists within leaders of the UK’s most promising start-ups.
The Cheeky Panda identified market opportunity for a sustainable alternative to regular tissue products on a trip to China to investigate bamboo. They spent the next eight months on research and development and created a model to capitalise on it with their first products were sold in August 2016. The focus is on:
- The market opportunity identified
- The model to capitalise on it
- How it has been executed within the first 18 months of trading
- How initial targets and KPIs have been met and exceeded
- The demonstrated vision for growth
- The understanding of key challenges, customers and the competitive landscape.
The Cheeky Panda’s demonstration of innovation
The Cheeky Panda’s tissue products have shown innovation as they have amazing sustainability credentials which have created a competitive advantage for the business. The products do not contain the chemicals usually applied to traditional toilet paper or recycled paper and is 100% biodegradable. The company have embedded a culture of innovation within their product as bamboo is the world’s fastest growing plant, growing 30 times faster than trees and does not require replanting after harvest due to it being a grass.
“It’s not just about creating something new, it’s also making a high-quality product that on its own would sell well anyway. We wanted to show that you can have high quality low carbon eco product that doesn’t cost the earth.”
Julie Chen, Co-founder
Growth of The Cheeky Panda
The Cheeky Panda have achieved numerous amounts of key milestones over the last 18 months. The company now sells a range of environmentally sustainable bamboo tissue products to an array of high street retailers and companies including Amazon, ethicalsuperstore.com and As Nature Intended. Additionally, since its inception, The Cheeky Panda has been the recipient of a whole host of awards. They have been named one of the Innovation50 companies in Essex and have won an award through the Big Business Boost competition which aims to identify the county’s most exciting business ideas and concepts.
The Cheeky Panda has increased its customer base and continued to engage its existing customers over the time it has been operating. In the early stages, the company ran a successful crowdfunding campaign on Crowdfunder to test the market appetite and paid for their first container shipment from China to Essex with the money raised. Since then they have taken on private investment and ran a live equity campaign on Seedrs equity crowd funding platform at a £5 million valuation. After hitting their target in just a few days they decided to overfund by 135%. With this new investment they hired a managing director, an experienced data analyst and are recruiting salespeople. Additionally, their product range has expanded to include a variety of tissue products such as paper towels and napkins and are available to purchase online in France, Germany, Spain and Netherlands.
The company have plans to sustain their ongoing financial success by developing sensors for towel dispensers, together with a major facilities service provider, to reduce their carbon footprint and drive up overall efficiency.
To find out more about The Cheeky Panda see here.
About The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards 2017
The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards is the flagship awards programme that recognises and rewards excellence across all sectors in the UK. Now in their 16th year, The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards give companies the chance to tell their success story to a national audience, regardless of your size or industry, through the UK's most prestigious awards programme. Any company within the UK, whether public, private or third sector can enter and have the chance to showcase their achievement to clients and investors at the award ceremony attended by 1,200 business leaders, entrepreneurs, politicians and media representatives. The Awards have a range of categories suited for any successful organisation to tell their story; from large private and public companies through to thriving entrepreneurial businesses, promising start-ups and established SMEs.