Proudly produced in the “dream factory, Project Doughnut’s hardworking team are on a mission to deliver the “world’s best doughnuts” to treat craving UK residents.
The team have nailed their original mission statement and now offer nationwide delivery of their delectable doughnuts – comprised of some of the nations favourite sweeties such as Percy Pigs & Freddo bars – as well as hosting a variety of pop-up stores across the North & Midlands.
We caught up with founder Max Poynton to get the lowdown on why he took the leap into starting his own food business.
*Trigger warning: Contains some seriously salivating images.
Thanks for the catch-up Max! Tell us about your background and what inspired you to set up the business?
Each one of us has a very different background, Jake was a landscape gardener, Matt worked in events and I worked as a car salesman. The one thing we had in common is our shared passion for food – but the initial idea came from Matt. He grew up in Belle-Vue, Washington, USA where he was surrounded by doughnut shops on every block.
We all travelled to the States where we experienced a 24-hour doughnut culture, where people would enjoy doughnuts for breakfast, through the day and deep into the night. We had a doughnut and a coffee at 3.30am and we decided we needed to bring this culture to the UK.
How did you come up with the delectable menu?
When we first started we used to create flavours then test them the following day at an event. We soon got a taste for what our customers liked and we then used this to build a menu with a choice of 12 doughnuts which changed weekly.
Since moving to our new production facility, we now have a full week of product development each month in our test bakery. Our team of 4 come up with witty names and flavour combinations for the doughnuts and we have a choice of over 70 different flavours each month!
Your branding and product line-up is really on point and vibrant – how important do you think this is to the appeal of PD?
Our branding is key to our popularity. We love to stand out and we try and be as different as possible. Our party balloon pink boxes are iconic locally and our ‘D’ is instantly recognised as Project D.
How did you adapt during Covid when so many events were postponed?
We were selling thousands of home-made doughnuts a week via events and at our Intu Derby Kiosk before lockdown started. That number dropped to 0 so we initially decided to furlough all our staff. We then transformed our doughnut company into an egg delivery service during a time there were no eggs available anywhere.
We then had the idea to set up pop-up stands across Derby, stocking not just doughnuts, but eggs and other essentials including yeast and flour. As the pop ups attracted hundreds of customers we quickly reinstated all of our colleagues and we even recruited three more members of staff, taking our total workforce up to 28.
At the start of the outbreak we were delivering eggs just to pay our bills, but people were still asking for doughnuts, so we set up a website so we could start delivering them as well. We went from having 0 online sales to hundreds of boxes on some days.
What does 2021 look like for the business?
2021 is looking bright, we finally feel like we can plan for the future, rather than working on a month by month basis. We’ve got 3 store openings planned, we’ve got some festivals booked and we’ve got some exciting collaborations coming up!
We love our street food and we’re lucky to have traded alongside some awesome companies such as – Kebab Cartel, Stripclub Streetfood, Patty Freaks and Only Jerkin! We’ve also been lucky enough to trade at one of our favourite venues – Bustler Market in Derby.
What’s your favourite thing about working in the hospitality industry?
My favourite thing about the hospitality industry is the togetherness, we’ve built a huge web of connections across the whole of the hospitality industry.
We’ve supported and been supported by so many pubs, bars, hotels and street food traders. There’s been a real sense of togetherness over the last 15 months to get us through a difficult time.
Finally, once we can travel freely, where’s the first place you’re going for food and what are you ordering?
When we’re free to travel again, we’re going on a road trip across Europe in our Project D bus! We’re going to visit doughnut shops in Holland, Germany, The Czech Republic, Poland, Austria and Italy and film the journey for our new YouTube Channel! We can’t wait to bring some European flavours to the menu!