Luxury doughnut makers Project D have won an award for innovation as recognition of their entrepreneurial spirit during lockdown. The company, which sells handcrafted, brightly colored doughnuts in Derby, UK, was given the accolade by an agency that promotes the city and the wider county to attract investment. Businesses in the city were invited to pitch their innovative ways of working, or new products and services, to fellow bondholders who voted for the ultimate winner.
Project D went from furloughing its entire staff at the start of the lockdown to requiring a bigger bakery by the end; it emerged winner in competition with 15 other companies during the week-long celebration of innovation. Co-owner Max Poynton said: “We are absolutely thrilled and this is the first time Project D has won an award, so it’s particularly special. Project D has gone in a completely different direction since March. We brought all our furloughed workers back after just a week and we continued to make quick decisions based on a constantly changing landscape. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the quality of our doughnuts and although they are a luxury product, during lockdown people deserved a treat more than ever before.”
Prior to COVID, Project D’s business model was based entirely on selling to shoppers and students from pop-up stands at one-off events and kiosks in shopping centers and universities. Lockdown meant the company had nowhere to sell and, after furloughing its entire staff, the three owners took the decision to go back to basics by operating an eggs, milk and flour delivery service. Bondholders learned how the company then began selling at pop-up locations – such as pubs and leisure center car parks – which meant they could sell doughnuts alongside the essential ingredients. Now they are operating a delivery service too, dropping doughnuts at doorsteps from Birmingham to Leeds and everywhere in between.