Norfolk Business Awards 2021: meet the Start-Up Business of the Year finalists

 Bread Hospitality staff team

Bread Hospitality set out to offer full circle support to the hospitality industry following the most challenging 18 months on record - Credit: Bread Hospitality

The title of Start-Up Business of the Year is awarded to a business less than three years old that has shown clear financial activity which translates into inward investment and/or increased turnover and/or acceleration to profit stage. Here we meet the finalists for the Start-Up Business of the Year award, sponsored by The University of East Anglia, at the Norfolk Business Awards 2021.


Bread Hospitality 

Launched from a laptop in a spare room in March 2021, Bread Hospitality set out to offer full circle support to the hospitality industry following the most challenging 18 months on record. Bread works with over 60 unique, independent businesses across the region in areas including staffing, HR support, event management or creative design to provide the best talent and businesses the east has to offer. 

The judges said: “Bread Hospitality’s entrepreneurial resilience shines through with clear ambition to be the best and not just the biggest. 

“It acknowledged the sector was in distress and needed help and, even during a pandemic, realised that there was an opportunity to start a business that provided help and wrap around support to employers and employees in this sector.” 

Within the first seven months Bread has seen significant revenue growth and recognised the need to bring in additional managers to manage the growth of the business in line with its vision.

Abode Construction's building site in Hempnall

Construction on Abode Construction's first project in Hempnall is nearing completion - Credit: Abode Construction

Abode Construction 

Based in Long Stratton, Abode Construction is a privately owned contractor specialising in the construction of residential, care and student accommodation facilities throughout Norfolk and Suffolk. It was established in May 2020 by owner and managing director Grant Keys, who has more than 20 years’ experience in the sector. 

Construction on the company’s first project in Hempnall is nearing completion and new projects are starting imminently. 

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The judges praised the carefully planning that supported the launch of the business and commended Abode for “quickly understood barriers to market and adopted an innovative start up structure that reassured clients and strengthened the supply chain." 

This strong start allowed the business to secure construction and support guarantees after investment from a partner led to a “huge disruption of the market”. The judges were also impressed with Abode’s drive to seek out the best staff, build strong, trusting relationships with clients and suppliers and deliver a high-quality product.

Keeler Recruitment staff team on paddle boards

Keeler Recruitment is working to build a reputation as one of the top three of its type in Norwich - Credit: Keeler Recruitment

Keeler Recruitment 

Based in Norwich, Keeler Recruitment specialises in accountancy and finance recruitment. Since its launch in 2019, the business has grown quickly from one to seven people. Not content to be slowed down by Covid-19, Keeler avoided furlough, innovated, placed hundreds of professionals and made significant community impact. 

The judges were impressed by Keeler’s disruption of the market through its “non-traditional pricing structure, staged payments and work/home life balance achieved via flexible contracts.” 

They felt that the company showed “clear focus on business ethics and how business is conducted” and a "strong emphasis on a fun and family first approach”, with staff allowed to set their targets and remuneration to a degree. 

After a strong first year, Keeler Recruitment aims to double the size of the business and its sales each year and is working to build a reputation as one of the top three of its type in Norwich.

Naturally Raw Pet Food store shelves

Naturally Raw Pet Food in Gorleston is aiming to build a nationwide reputation as a raw pet food provider - Credit: Naturally Raw Pet Food

Naturally Raw Pet Food

Naturally Raw Pet Food in Gorleston provides a large range of quality food and natural treats for dogs and cats. Founded in 2018 by one person working part-time, it has grown rapidly and now has a full-time team of three and offers a delivery service for customers. 

Spotting a gap in the market, the company utilised business advice from NWES and a small start-up loan to provide a solid foundation for the business. The judges commended Naturally Raw Pet Food for showing “small business agility”, as well as “resilience, careful planning and risk mitigation.” 

The judges also felt that Naturally Raw is “careful and very conscious of business ethos around pet welfare”, trailing new initiatives before committing to them and carefully considering its supply chain. 

They added that the business “recognises the importance of key accreditations such as those from DEFRA” and is looking to build a nationwide reputation around a passionate and knowledgeable approach.