Nikia spices up Pitch Your Idea

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The Clapham Park resident won over the competition judges with her jerk marinade. Now, her Caribbean wraps are set to pop up around London

 Nadia, Tim, Nikia

It propelled Levi Roots to fame and fortune; now, Jamaican jerk is bringing Nikia Rodney a taste of success.

The Clapham Park customer is this year’s winner of Metropolitan’s Pitch Your Idea – a Dragons’ Den-style competition for Lambeth’s budding entrepreneurs.

She won £2,000, and expert support from the Bright Ideas Trust charity, to turn her ‘Wraps & Tings’ brainwave into a business.

“I’m hoping to sell wraps with Caribbean fillings on Fridays on pop-up market stalls,” explains the part-time supermarket worker. “I’ll do jerk chicken, jerk salmon, jerk barbecued pork, jerk sausage – all served in flour tortillas.

“The original plan was to sell traditional Caribbean dishes like jerk chicken, rice and peas and curried goat, but there are so many people doing that already. I didn’t want to let the Caribbean influence go, so I decided to give it a twist.”

She rounded off her five-minute pitch to the competition judges with some jerk salmon, plantain and sweet chilli sauce wraps, which helped seal her victory.

“The entrants this year kept the standards high and those who made it to the final were brilliant people with great ideas bringing value to the local community,” says Tim Campbell, Founder and Chair of Trustees for Bright Ideas Trust, who led the judging panel.

“Our winner was selected for her infectious energy, future potential and, of course, her wonderful tasty cooking skills. We wish her well and look forward to working with Metropolitan in the future, empowering tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.”

Nikia was one of 25 business novices who entered the competition, which is now in its second year. Thirteen were accepted onto an eight-week training programme, delivered by the Bright Ideas Trust and designed to equip them with the skills and knowledge to get their startups off the ground.

“It’s easy to say you want to start a business,” says Nikia, who will use her prize to buy equipment and pay market pitch fees, “but you have to do the groundwork. We learnt about business plans, registering a business and cashflows.”

Four participants were invited to pitch their ideas to the judges. “The day before the pitch, I felt sick,” admits Nikia. “On the day, I was shaking and sweating with the heat and the nerves. It was a long five minutes and I knew I was up against some strong competition.”

Not least from Nadia O’Donnell-Pacha, whose ‘Rose Gold Virtual Assistance’ idea took the runner-up spot and a £1,000 prize.

Nadia, who has 20 years of office-based secretarial and administrative experience, is planning a remote, pay-as-you-go PA service for small and medium-sized companies that can’t afford or don’t need full-time support.

“I’m ready to have my own business,” she says, “and I feel that I’m moving in the right direction to realise my dream. If it wasn’t for Pitch Your Idea, I wouldn’t have known how. As well as the classroom sessions, it’s given me access to online training, like the marketing course I’m doing at the moment.”

Supported by their Bright Ideas Trust mentors, both winner and runner-up are targeting autumn launches for their new businesses.

“I cried when they said I was the winner,” says Nikia. “People had told me I was good at what I did, but without Pitch Your Idea, my idea would have just been a pipe dream.”