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Our Alumni: James Averdieck

Gü Chocolate Puds pioneer and Durham graduate, James Averdieck, explains what it takes to be a soufflé magnate.

James Averdieck made his name in chocolate, founding Gü Chocolate Puds and turning it into a £30m business. But before he became an entrepreneur, he studied Economics at Durham University from 1985 to 1988.

“Economics is a really good foundation for any business career."

Economic theory trains the mind to think logically and commercially so I am proud of my degree from Durham.”

The idea for Gü came from living in Brussels where James was inspired by patisseries and chocolate shops. He formed a joint venture with a patisserie company back in London and developed the company’s first three products: two chocolate mousses and a chocolate soufflé in glass ramekins.

“My proudest moment was when we launched in France and started selling soufflés to the French.”

James sold the business in 2010 (circa £30m) and has since continued to nurture and support future entrepreneurs. He recently spoke at the Business School’s convention as part of the celebrations for the 25th Anniversary of the MBA programme. So, what does he think makes a successful entrepreneur?

“I’d say having a creative idea, the guts to back it and the energy and obsessive determination to make it successful.”

Scaling new heights

Since selling Gü Chocolate Puds, James hasn’t been resting on his laurels. He recently climbed Everest – surviving on a diet of Snickers bars – and has been busy developing new ideas.

As for advice for current students, James keeps things short and sweet, “When you’re making decisions between two things, toss a coin and catch it mid-air but don’t look at it. You already know in your gut what you want to do – just do it."