Kate Gaskin is director of Right Angle Events, which specialises in unusual events-based experiences. Here, she discusses the range of grants for small businesses that saw her company ramp up marketing and take on staff.
What is your business, how long has it been going and how was it funded?
We run a corporate events, team building and management training company. Our specialism is in events focused on crime and forensics. Another side to the business is the education sector; we run events for schools, colleges and universities. The company was started in February 2007 with a small bank loan of £20,000. Within a year we became a limited company and increased the loan to purchase greater infrastructure such as IT equipment and a garden office.
How did you find out about the grants? What did you need them for?
We were well supported by Business Link in the early days and were signposted towards a variety of grants made available by the [erstwhile] East of England Development Agency. Our first one was for £1,500 to enable us to purchase connectivity systems to network our computers as we had started to employ staff. This gave us a taste for applying for grants.
Having successfully achieved that money we began to look for other grants for small businesses and competitions as a way of finding investment. Google is a great source of information as is the local Chamber of Commerce.
Since that time I have applied to Broadland District Council for a £500 grant for a small marketing project; we used it to buy banners, pop-ups and advertising.
We also entered a local business competition, judged by Theo Paphitis of Dragons Den, where we won £10,000 worth of radio advertising.
The [now defunct] Growth Accelerator was a source of £2,000 to assist with staff development and IT development; we used the money for website development and training.
The government Growth Voucher scheme provided us with £4,000 for senior management coaching, which we used for strategic direction and specialist coaching for the senior management team.
The Business Growth Fund totalled £23,500 for capital projects as long as we employed a member of staff for every £10,000 we were granted. We bought vehicles, upgraded our IT, moved into offices and equipped them. At that time we took on two full-time members of staff.
Finally, we benefitted from the Norfolk and Suffolk Chamber Employer Training Incentive Pilot. Up to 20 per cent can be claimed back against any non-accredited training undertaken by a member of our staff. Claims to date total approximately £500 for us. Courses undertaken included Google Ad words campaigns, health and safety, first aid training and leadership and management courses.
What was the application process like? What advice would you give to other companies seeking grants?
All the grants for small businesses involved filling in forms, some lengthy and laborious, others simpler and more straightforward. The key is to answer the questions they ask and ensure you are hitting the key criteria. Be tenacious, don’t give up, be creative and answer the questions asked.