Denheath Desserts is the quintessential kiwi start up story. A business that started as a small cafe in Pleasant Point with an amazing custard square recipe has now become an international custard square exporter.
How did it start?
Lisa started working at the cafe as a kid, making the squares as part of her work. Her mother loved the custard squares, and basically bought the cafe for the recipe. She grew the cafe, and her dying wish was for the company to grow and start exporting.
Lisa and her husband Donald took that wish and ran with it, expanding their operations first in New Zealand and then internationally. They started by going to cafes in Canterbury and giving away free samples, and were soon doing daily deliveries up to Christchurch (with Donald leaving at the crack of dawn every morning).
Now, they are exporting to Australia, South Korea and Japan, and tailoring the square sizes to suit each market (some are perfectly chopstick-sized!)
But, they want to grow bigger. They want to export to New York, they want to sell in more New Zealand stores countrywide, and they want to grow their team in Timaru (and improve the technology used by their business).
The money they are raising from their crowd isn’t for shares or rewards though, it’s loan notes. So the money will be repaid over time with an 8% annual interest rate.
They are passionate about local economic development, and are unashamedly South Islanders. They’ve often been told that to succeed they need to move to Auckland, but with the cost of living lower in Timaru, and the cost of shipping from their port on par with shipping from Auckland, they want to stay. They want to employ local people, support their local economy, and stay in the region they love.
And, we believe that in a world where things like Brexit and Trump can occur, that kind of attitude is what’s needed. Actually providing jobs in the regions is the antidote to the underbelly of urbanisation.
Where to next?
Today, they create 10,000 custard squares a day and export to Australia, South Korea and Japan.
With your funding, they are aiming to create 35,000 custard squares a day and expand their exports to New York, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
As a side note, we had a custard square eating competition when they were touring the country:
And, Tan, our latest hire (good hire) was victorious: