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Student stories - Business

Vegan cupcakes see success at Dragons’ Den

Remember baking in the kitchen with your parents?

It’s a memory that one Young Enterprise team at ACG Parnell College is aiming to conjure with their business, Let Them Eat Cake.

“Our mission is to bring back the classic Kiwiana childhood of kids baking with their parents,” explains CEO Madison (Maddy) McKillen, Year 13. “That was such a significant and fond memory of our childhoods; we don’t want kids to miss out on this.”

The enterprise has created a vegan-friendly, just-add-water cupcake mix for children. It responds to a gap in the market for vegan-friendly baking options, and provides an option for kids with dairy or egg allergies who miss out on regular baking.

For CEO Maddy, who’s vegan and avoids standard cake or cupcake mixes due to their highly processed nature, it’s a product that reflects her beliefs and “something I was proud of.”

The team is selling the product through Instagram and the Parnell Markets and also working on a website. They say there have been challenges along the way: like figuring out how to run a business alongside school work and study; and adapting three years of Business Studies theory to the practical nature of running a business. 

But this week, Let Them Eat Cake placed second in the 2017 Kiwibank Auckland Regional Dragons’ Den Finals, winning $500 for the business.

“We really did work hard to get the pitch as flawless and seamless as possible and that really paid off in the end,” said Maddy. “The judges gave us only positive feedback. It was really reassuring hearing how much they loved the product and our core values. And all the dragons wanted to buy a box!”

Let Them Eat Cake team members: CEO Madison McKillen, Year 13; Communications Director Lakisha Patel, Year 13; Production Director Sylvia Brewer, Year 13; Marketing Director Emily Grant, Year 13; Finance Director Emma Burns, Year 12.