The team behind a popular Watford café have seen their business journey go from strength to strength thanks to the free business start-up support they have received.

Page Adela Costas, Michelle Chin and Mario Karaiskos set up their own business in 2016 and are now the owners of the d20 café in Queen’s Road.

The business has benefited significantly from the help it has received from Wenta, the not-for-profit and social enterprise body that has partnered with Watford Borough Council to establish a free business support programme catered for the need of residents and businesses across the town.

Called Business Recovery and Growth – Watford (BRG Watford), the scheme offers free services including one-to-one business advice, skills training webinars and access to co-working. It is available to all businesses in Watford and residents who are thinking of becoming self-employed.

Although the business started in 2016, Wenta remain the first port of call for any advice the d20 café team need.

Watford Observer:

The d20 cafe team

Michelle said: “For anybody that’s thinking of starting their own business, I’d definitely recommend seeking help from Wenta and the BRG – Watford programme. They will be able to see any gaps in your research or in your business plan and give you the next steps of what you should be doing. When I take a minute and look back I think ‘wow, we actually did it!’. Not everyone can say they have fulfilled their dreams.”

Explaining how the trio had set about fulfilling their dreams, Michelle explained: “A few years back, we decided to make a change from our careers. All of us had such a big passion for board games. We had them spilling into our living room, they were on the kitchen table, I was going mad with how many we had. It just made sense to share our passion and open up a board game cafe. We started visiting a few cafes, seeing if it was something we could feasibly do together and we just thought ‘yes – we’ll give it a go’.”

The team sought advice from Wenta and Michelle continued: “Even though we knew about our idea and we could see our vision, it gave us a lot of validation when a business adviser understood our vision as well. It was really good timing for us to have a place to go to for one-to-one business advice.”

Watford Observer:

The launch of the BRG - Watford initiative

The BRG – Watford scheme also gives access to specialist advice on areas including legal, finance, accounting and marketing for those businesses seeking to adapt what they offer and grow.

Larger firms can also access mentoring and help from organisations in the Hertfordshire network including Watford Chamber of Commerce, Watford BID, Hertfordshire LEP and Hertfordshire Growth Hub.

Wenta chief executive Ed Jordan said: “The programme will deliver a very simple, direct and inclusive support service to the Watford community. A one-stop-shop for helping businesses and residents to adapt and strengthen in these challenging times.

“Wenta was born in Watford over 37 years ago, set up at a time of mass redundancies in order to support the community. Today, our same mission continues, providing free business support to everyone.”

Watford Observer:

Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor at the cafe

Speaking at the time of the launch, Watford Mayor Peter Taylor said: “Our small businesses are the lifeblood of Watford’s economy, providing thousands of jobs for local people and making a vital contribution to the success of our town. We know how difficult this year has been for many of these businesses and employees, with uncertainty high and unemployment growing. I would therefore urge anyone who needs support to contact us as soon as possible and utilise Wenta’s support programme. It’s free and, most importantly, tailored to your needs.”

A list of some of the free webinars and workshops are available on the Wenta and Watford Borough Council websites.

You can register for free support at, email or call 01923 691363.