MO Patel's tale is one of failure, perseverance and hard graft to become a huge success.

Business Editor JASON KAYLEY met the man who has built a new business empire on lemon tart and rice pudding.

LEGEND has that Robert the Bruce said to his troops before the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314: "If at first you don't succeed try, try, try again." His troops then delivered a heavy blow on their English foes.

And its that never-say-die attitude that has driven Mo Patel, the man behind Dinner Lady Vape, to become the man he is today.

After his first venture, GM Group sales and marketing, which sold mobile phone contracts, folded with the loss of 150 jobs, the 37-year-old took a long, hard look at himself.

He went away, studied, and came back with a renewed purpose.

But it was early experience that shaped Mr Patel's ethos as he began to rebuild his thinking after studying the likes of Warren Buffett, the American business magnate and philanthropist.

A picture of a firm he used to work for, Adam's Taxis, now hangs in reception in the of the plush new GM House in Shadsworth, Blackburn's answer to anything Silicon Valley has to offer.

From a sleeping bag above the taxi office to the new offices which contain sleeping pods, it's been quite a journey.

Starting with an e-cig company called Cigara, Mr Patel moved to create the Dinner Lady Vape brand, which specialises in old school flavour vape liquid such as lemon tart, rice pudding and strawberry custard, and now sells products in 73 countries.

And this year, thanks to a new tie-in with Asda, the firm is set to top around £18million in turnover.

But it's just a stepping stone to where Mr Patel, a former Beardwood High School and Blackburn College student, wants to take his business empire.

He said: "As far as I'm concerned, we have got onto the plane and left the runway. But now it's time to fly.

"Having the GM Group fold was a very hard lesson to learn, especially having to let 150 people go.

"But I learned that you can't rest your business on just one sector. So I started a law firm, Lance Mason, and then I spotted a niche in the market for the e-cig market.

"I started a company called Cigara, which started with one store in Sheffield and that became five stores, then 10 stores then 20 stores. It became very successful very quickly.

"And then we started looking at the liquids and the brands. The other big players on the market didn't really seem to represent anything. So we came up with the Dinner Lady concept. The dinner lady was like your mum at school and the flavours we wanted to produce will make you reminisce and make you smile.

"The concept has worked fantastically well and our customer base has been very responsive.

"We have been extremely thorough in every detail of the business. Vaping was and is still a niche business, but we have positioned ourselves as a market leader."

With the jury still out on the long-term effects of vaping, Mr Patel was keen to stress that his products were rigorously tested to ensure they are as safe as they can be.

He said: "No one can say that vaping is safe, the long-term data just doesn't exist yet. What we can say is that all our products are fully compliant with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and EU regulations.

"Our products do not contain diacetyl and undergo extremely strict toxicity tests. When you think about the thousands of chemicals that go into a normal cigarette, the vape liquids don't contain those. But as for the long-term effects, only time will tell."

As the business continues the grow, Mr Patel will not be resting on his laurels.

The fantastic multi-million GM House is almost ready to open and plans are being drawn up to grow the business into new areas.

He said: "We are always looking at our strategies and we are talking to new customers both home and abroad.

"A conservative estimate is that we can become a £100million business in three years and maybe a £300m business in 10 years.

"But that's not the end goal. I want us to leave a legacy for when we're gone that can help generations to come.

"I've always been impressed by the philanthropic efforts by some of the wealthiest people in society.

"I'm a first generation Indian immigrant and I've made Blackburn my home. I've never forgotten what my dad told me. He said that the only way you can succeed is through hard work, and he was right. You can't cut corners.

"Now I want to give something back to Blackburn. There are always charity events going on in the office and it's something we like to do. There is such a fantastic spirit in the town at the moment and we want to help people live the best life they can.

"If we can leave behind a legacy for generations to come, we will have left our mark on Blackburn."