Coventry and Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust (CWRT) is part of a network of official Start Up Loans delivery partners across the UK which administer the scheme.
Through CWRT’s Start Up Loans programme, applicants are able to access free mentoring and support before applying and have up to 12 months’ worth of support if they successfully obtain the Start Up Loan.
CWRT’s application process offers face-to-face loan assessments and no computer decisions. Loans start from £1,000 and go up to £25,000.
The recipients are Lynette Turner, director of Boho Bride (LT), Des McManus, founder of Friction Free Shaving (DM), and Leocadia Foya, founder of Aurameir Creative Ltd (LF).
How did you find out about the start up loans?
LT: I did a Google search for government business grants and loans, and found out about CWRT that way.
DM: I actually saw adverts for the government’s Start Up Loans scheme on my Facebook news feed! Obviously I had ‘liked’ some entrepreneurial and small business pages, so their algorithms thought I’d be a good person to advertise these loans to.
LF: I found out the start-up loans scheme back in 2013 through a business seminar hosted by start-up loans delivery partner BizBritain.
How did you apply? What was the process?
LT: I called CWRT up and the team talked me through the application process and then sent me the relevant forms to fill out, including cash flow forecast and business plan template.
I filled in all of the forms and sent them straight back. I then had a meeting with CWRT about my business, my plans to expand and hopefully employ staff.
DM: The process was very straight forward. I applied and was called straight away by CWRT who explained the process to me over the phone.
After that I was assigned a mentor (the excellent Sandra Harding) who helped me write a solid, detailed business plan, as well as a three-year cash flow forecast.
I would recommend this as a very good exercise for any start up, as it helps focus your mind and set realistic expectations for the business.
LF: After being referred to CWRT for their start scheme by my mentor from Women &
Enterprise, I contacted them directly via telephone to find out what steps I needed to take to apply.
They forwarded me information about themselves, an application form and link to other delivery partners near me.
Once I filled in the application form and sent back with my credit report I was eligible for the scheme and they immediately assigned me a business mentor from Business Tank to help me finish my business plan and financials.
After handing in my documentation and supporting evidence I received my start up loan within weeks.
How much money did you receive and what type of funding was it IE, matched funding, straightforward cash, etc.
LT: I was able to get a loan for £20,000 to help me invest in new stock wedding gown samples, accessories and to help fund my own designer collection, under my own brand name.
I also bought a new computer. It was a straightforward cash loan.
DM: I received a £25,000 cash loan, re-payable over five years. It was a straightforward loan for business purposes.
LF: I received a loan of £20,000 directly from CWRT and no other funding.
Why do you think your pitch for the funding was impressive to them?
LT: I think because I had previous experience in this area, I was passionate about my business and I had already been trading for 12 months, so had a good idea what was needed to expand and grow my business.
DM: I think that the fact a lot of the loan amount was going into buying stock showed that I was serious, and there was a tangible investment coming directly from the loan itself. My business is the first to do a razor subscription service for women in the UK, so I think that CWRT liked my originality.
LF: I did my research and took time putting my business plan and financials together, I even carried out test trading to figure out if my business model was going to work and it did.
So I had further supporting evidence.
How are you going to use/how did you use the money? How instrumental has it been to your development as a company?
LT: I am going to use the CWRT loan to buy new sample wedding gowns for the boutique, a new collection of accessories and to create my own collection of wedding gowns under my own label.
This will enable me to keep my stock fresh and interesting, and will attract new brides and brides that have already visited the boutique but may not have ordered yet.
It will help me to market my brand to a wider audience and can also be used for PR, social media and marketing campaigns.
DM: The CWRT loan has enabled me to buy the razors and blades, and pay for the development of the business brand and some marketing.
Friction Free Shaving couldn’t have started trading without it – so it was pretty instrumental.
LF: With the money received from CWRT, we have acquired premises and equipment and we are looking to invest more in our marketing and brand development needs.
Getting funding has been instrumental to the growth and expansion of my business from sole trader status to private limited company, and I was also able to hire personnel.
Had you raised any money in the past, will you aim to do so again in the near future, and are there other start up loans/grants you will pursue?
LT: I may do but would need to find out more about what is out there for small businesses and if those other grants or loans are relevant to my business first.
DM: My business partner put in £25,000 of his own money, so we launched with a good budget and an equal split of investment. We are now looking at crowdfunding options to raise money for a marketing and advertising budget this year.
LF: This is my first time receiving financing, however in the next three years we will re-evaluate our business position and see if we can access further expansion and growth of the business.
What’s next for the business?
LT: I want to expand the business to be the leading boutique in this area that offers brides a collection of designer wedding gowns which are not available in other local boutiques, known for having a very different collection from other boutiques, award-winning and respected in the industry; and known for our customer care, service and knowledge.
DM: Growing awareness of the business brand and service is next, along with building a core revenue stream of monthly subscriptions. There is also a shave cream planned for later this year – so watch this space!
LF: We are currently working on our re-branding and marketing efforts we have a few projects booked for this month and some to carry out at beginning of next month.
Our aim is to be fully booked and continue growing our brand and customer base.