Speaker: Phil Jensen
Director at Black Box Cake, The Cake Professionals & Peboryon
Luxury cake maker and serial entrepreneur, Phil Jensen, wasn’t going to let the “initial shock” of lockdown beat the life out of his cake business. Covid-19 posed an existential threat to the hospitality and events industries, and Phil realised early on that he and his partner Christine needed to take a “Darwinian approach to creativity” whereby they had to “adapt or die”.
Staying true to their love of cake and mantra: “cake is always the answer”, they began to take back control by cooking up two new business ideas which they hoped would see them through until weddings and parties were able to resume.
They started by reviewing the new environmental conditions and what they could do with cake in the current climate, whilst also being mindful that the new business wouldn’t encroach on Peboryon should government restrictions be lifted at a moment’s notice. Within six weeks, their agile mindset led them from panic stations to posting their first boxes of gourmet cake to friends and family in a trial run of their cake by post business, which is now known as Black Box Cake.
“It’s remarkable what you can do when you have to” exclaims Phil, who wouldn’t want to relive those six weeks but is thankful for the experience nonetheless. Being reminded of a Darwinian approach to survival is “an exercise that all businesses should practice” he adds, acknowledging that “it’s testament to what technology can do now” as he reveals that the entire Black Box Cake operation, from it’s website through to shipping, is built from an infrastructure of out-the-box software which has been laced together.
Believing wholeheartedly that “innovating in a state of scarcity forces you to be creative”, Phil and Christine decided to branch out and launch their second (and most successful) revenue stream to come out of lockdown: Black Box Cake Masterclasses.
The pandemic presented Phil and Christine with the rare opportunity of time, something which they hadn’t had previously. Having featured on Channel 4’s Extreme Cake Makers, the Peboryon brand had assembled many “cake fans” requesting baking tips and recipe books – ventures which were always put on the back-burner. Now that their luxury cake business was on pause, they decided to set about bottling their expertise by filming high-end baking masterclasses.
To do this, they partnered with a local wedding photographer (who had also lost all their trade due to the government restrictions) on a profit share basis, which has now opened up a global market for the entrepreneurs. With students from around the world benefiting from their baking masterclass box-set, “it’s something we will definitely carry on with” says Phil.
The speed at which Phil and Christine have completely deconstructed and repackaged elements of their product offering is a masterclass in creative innovation, something which is not just brave, but has secured their existence and enabled them to continue to thrive within an industry that has been so badly burned by Covid.
If you would like to watch the full event online, the recording can be found on ATI2’s new digital platform: The Innovation Studio. ATI2 clients can request exclusive access logins by registering your interest at www.aticornwallinnovation.co.uk or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.