Harborne independent coffee house Boo Boo Coffee has been unveiled as the winner of the Small Business Big Success competition run by West Bromwich Albion FC sponsor Intuit QuickBooks and the Birmingham Post.
The independent cafe will now benefit from a prize package worth £15,000 after being announced as the winner at a glittering awards ceremony held at The Hawthorns on March 16.
Co-founder of the business Matt Eagles admitted he was well and truly "gobsmacked" when they were announced as the winner.
"I don't think it has actually sunk in yet," said a delighted Mr Eagles, who set up the business less than a year ago with Keon Heidarinia. We looked around the room and thought there are some quite big businesses here.
"We felt like pretenders and half thought someone might come up to us at some point to check our tickets and say we shouldn't be there.
"We were actually thinking of sloping off five to ten minutes early because of the traffic but thought we would see it through. When they called out our name we were open-mouthed and shocked - we couldn't get our breath.
"We went there thinking it would be a great networking opportunity, somewhere to give out some cards get people down to the shop – maybe even some of the West Bromwich Albion players."
The event was certainly a night to remember and not just for Boo Boo Coffee but for all the businesses that took part.
West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Pulis conducted a live Q&A session and several players from the club also attended.
The competition saw Intuit QuickBooks team-up with the Premier League football club and the Post on a mission to find the West Midlands' greatest small business success story, uncovering many inspiring achievements from local SMEs across the region.
As well as to £5,000 cash, the winner's prize includes media coverage and advertising at the West Bromwich Albion v Queen's Park Rangers fixture on Saturday April 4, including coverage on the pitch LED screens, as well as printed content in the matchday programme. The winner can also enjoy a day at the Hawthorns to see their business being promoted – including tickets, hospitality and a mascot package.
In addition, the winner will receive free QuickBooks small business accounting software for two years and expert clinic sessions with an accountant, marketing and social media specialists.
Mr Eagles, a public relations consultant by profession, and Mr Heidarinia, a former builder, decided on a coffee shop as a business venture after considering alternatives like a dining club or a pop-up supper club.
Initially the idea started off with conversation over dinner and they eventually decided to name their coffee shop after a pet name Mr Eagles had for his daughter.
Asked what he thought set Boo Boo Coffee apart, Mr Heidarinia said he felt the judges – who included QuickBooks' UK country manager Rich Preece, West Bromwich Albion's sales and marketing director Adrian Wright and Birmingham Post editor Stacey Barnfield – may have been impressed by the fact it had the traditional ethos of a family business where providing a good service is paramount.
He also feels they have contributed much towards changing a section of Harborne High Street for the better and attracted a loyal and large customer base in the process.
In addition, he feels the quality of coffee and tea they offer is a tempting alternative to the mainstream and that offering locally-made cakes and bread is another bonus.
He said: "We have gone for a really rare roast from Allpress Espresso Coffee Roasters based in London's Shoreditch and tea sourced from Joe's Tea Company, also in London.
"All of the cakes are made locally by a local lady and our bread comes from a local bakers. They are some of the best producers you could possibly hope to work with. We wouldn't be where we were if we hadn't got those guys.
"We were not just thinking about making a quick buck, we wanted to create a business that has longevity, is sustainable and becomes part of people's vernacular. I hope that came across in our entry."
Mr Eagles said they decided to enter the competition more by chance more than design. They were contemplating buying some accounting software and a Google search for Intuit QuickBooks took them to the Birmingham Post website and details of the competition.
They are particularly looking forward to the mentoring and support side of the winner's package.
"The counselling from experts really appealed," said Mr Eagles. "We don't profess to be Alan Sugar with a multi-million pound business. We're looking for advice and guidance and thought it would be a great package."
As far as developing the business is concerned, Mr Heidarinia said the next step is to tap in to the evening economy in some way, with a cafe-restaurant offering of some description.
He and Mr Eagles are still mulling ideas over but they hope to obtain a licence for evening business and make use of what is currently "dead time" after the coffee shop shuts its doors at 5pm.