The owner of a start-up pizza business in Coventry is hoping for a slice of the events industry action after innovating to ensure his firm survived lockdown.

Former Coundon Court student Tom Capell launched Surf And Slice in 2019 after deciding to leave his role as quality controller at Jaguar Land Rover after five years with the company.

Having always wanted to work in the catering sector, he bought a mobile wood-fired pizza trailer and was supported with advice and mentoring by the Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce as part of the Coventry & Warwickshire Business Support Programme, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

While Tom’s focus was on the quality of the pizzas, he had no experience of running a business and the Chamber helped him with many of the details around establishing a company, such as setting up a business bank account, managing his finances and cash flow.

The business got off to a positive start, operating at Cannon Park Shopping Centre in the city and also taking private bookings for events.

But when the coronavirus crisis hit, Surf And Slice’s market dried up and Tom came up with a new way of keeping the business alive.

He said: “We were doing quite well to begin with, but when the crisis started, there were no customers for me to serve. Everyone was at home.

“So I came up with my own DIY pizza kits, including all the ingredients and recipes that I delivered all over the region. All in all, I delivered around 2,000 kits throughout the crisis and that kept the business going.

“As lockdown has eased, I’ve got pitches at Dhillons Brewery in Longford, and one at The Criterion Theatre in Earlsdon, where I'm back out serving customers again.

“I’ve got a real focus on quality and making pizzas the right way, so I'm bringing the true taste of Naples to the people of Coventry. I tend to have five different pizzas on the menu at any one time, including some unique base toppings such as pumpkin or truffle.

“I can see real potential in the events sector once that is back up and running. Eventually I would like my own outlet - possibly in Coventry city centre.

“The Chamber of Commerce has been great. They were recommended to me when I was first starting out and the support has been invaluable.

“I’d ask questions that probably seemed really basic, but my adviser would just talk me through everything. For example, at the start I was doing all my business through my personal bank account, but they guided me through setting up a business account, which was something I’d never done before.

“That kind of advice meant I could focus on the quality of food I was serving, knowing that I had expert support helping me in other ways.”

Keely Hancox, of the Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Surf And Slice is a great example of a new business with a strong idea of what they would like to do but need help on the other side of business.

“People can be put off establishing a business because they don’t know how to get started on some of those financial and administrative tasks. Our advisers are here to help, as well as being a sounding-board for ideas.”

For more information on support from the Chamber, contact 024 7665 4321.