Celebrating the quirky businesses that break the mould
As of June 2016, the government-back Start Up Loans scheme has helped more than 38,000 people become their own boss. Many of the business ideas we’ve seen have been very creative, from alcoholic sweets to 3D personalised prints. Here we tell you about six of the more quirky ones.
1. Rockflower: A flower vending machine
It was a trip to Los Angeles that gave Andrew the idea for his innovative flower vending machine, when he couldn’t find styles of flowers he liked. He wanted to make beautiful flowers available at all times. What better way to start than through a 24 hour vending unit in one of London’s busiest stations. A Start Up Loan successfully allowed Andrew to pay for modifications to the flower kiosk, which is now situated in Blackfriars station forecourt.
2. Smith & Sinclair: Cocktail confectionery
Melanie Goldsmith and Emilie Bernard, founders of Smith & Sinclair, are the world’s first cocktail confectioners. They have worked with over 35 alcohol brands to produce a variety of deconstructed cocktails in the form of pastilles, each with over 5% ABV. As their website says, ‘who would want to drink their drink, when they could eat it?’ With funky flavours, including mixed berry daquiri and gin and tonic, the sweets make a great gift if you’re looking for something a bit different.
3. Lou’s Poo: Alpaca manure
Horse manure is so last season! It’s all about the alpacas. Start Up Loan recipient Louise Archer runs ‘Lou’s Poo’ from a 15 acre smallholding with her own alpaca herd in rural Shropshire. After realising the alpaca manure was doing wonders for her own garden, Louise decided to capitalise on this opportunity and the idea for Lou’s Poo was born. Louise is selling her product as a garden gift rather than a fertiliser and describes it as ‘fun…with a practical application’.
4. Code3D: A 3D figurine of yourself
Dr Ahsan Khan has always had the bug of thinking about new tech and ideas, and with the help of a Start Up Loan he was able to develop his 3d boutique. Code 3D is currently the UK leader in 3D printed figurines of people, especially for the graduate market. As well as this the firm offers 3d scanning, a range of one off products and personalization and bespoke jewellery. So if you fancy a miniature version of yourself on the mantelpiece, Code3D have got you sorted!
5. Healthy Nibbles: Interactive, healthy vending machines
Sara Roberts spent 8 years working in Africa where roadside stalls sell an abundance of fresh fruit and other healthy snacks. Upon returning to the UK she was shocked at how hard it was to find good, fresh food easily. Sara decided to set up her own company, Healthy Nibbles with the support from the Start Up Loans Company. The company uses SMART vending machines which are stocked with healthy sustainable products. The vending machines offer multiple payment options including contactless, card, cash and ApplePay and provide full nutritional and allergen information before customers make a purchase.
6. Birds Baby Boutique: 3D baby and children casting
Keri Bird started her 3D casting business, Birds Baby Boutique, with the help of a Start Up Loan. They create beautifully handcrafted and expertly finished baby hand and foot casts, leaving parents with the most treasured keepsake. Keri describes her decision to start her own business as the ‘best thing she has ever done’. With a range of celebrity client, business is booming and Keri now has three franchisees operating in Norfolk, Essex and Milton Keynes.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the weird and wonderful businesses we have backed! Do you have a unique business idea? Reckon you could disrupt an industry?