In April 2021, Start Up Loans held its annual Delivery Partner Awards, bringing together its delivery partners and businesses it supports to celebrate some of the scheme’s most successful loan recipients.
In a record year for the programme, during which it helped more than 11,000 businesses to start and thrive, the awards recognised excellence across a range of categories.
Growth Business of the Year
Bristol business Rapid Fire Supplies received a £25,000 Start Up Loan to support its market launch. The loan helped the business invest in cutting-edge technology that has seen the business develop and become a trusted supplier of PPE, hygiene products, workplace safety and fire fighting equipment. They provide a customer focussed service that takes them through the whole supply chain process from purchasing to delivery.
The new venture launched at a critical time as the disruption generated by Covid-19 meant that cost and time-efficient supply and logistics of vital equipment was more important than ever. They have now grown a substantial client base including the NHS, charities, councils, schools, SMEs, universities, restaurants, hotels and many more. Supplying products from the latest in Covid-19 protection, to preventative supplies, cleaning products and office equipment.
They are now British Safety Industry Federation accredited and are preferred supplier of PPE to the Alzheimer’s Society, having supplied their 600 frontline staff with bespoke kits, including face shields, Type IIR masks, antibacterial wipes and hand sanitiser – all delivered to the employees’ front door! Additionally, they supply PPE and hygiene products to Wokingham Borough Council for the mass testing screening programme and have recently been approved as a preferred supplier for BAFTA.
Robert is a skilled engineer and has a passion for anything connected with motorcycles. In 2018, having left Norton Motorcycles, he wanted to pursue a business that catered for a need that many of his friends had discussed with him – that they had the basic skills to conduct their own repairs to cars, vans or motorbikes, but lacked the space, equipment or a bit of help to get them done.
He set up the Machine Shop in a unit, equipped it with all the equipment that a normal garage or repair workshop would have, and offered his help and support to clients who wanted it. Income is via a membership scheme, similar to a gym, and opening hours are flexible. He has members from all walks of life, and also offers additional training courses in welding and car/motorbike maintenance.
The business became so popular that Robert was able to repay his Start Up Loan within a year. He’s now reached a stage where he needs to expand as he is getting a lot of business from privateer motorbike racers.
Social Impact Business of the Year
Nathan Misra of Silkcrayon, Barry, Cardiff – supported by Business in Focus
Nathan is an enterprising and socially responsible young man who has set up his business, Silkcrayon, to support and promote local musicians, and to allow young people from less privileged backgrounds to engage with music and the arts and to gain valuable skills in music production, presentation and promotion.
Through a series of workshops, Nathan engages with groups of young music lovers to develop their awareness, their practical skills and their confidence levels. He has used the £4,000 funding he has received from the Start Up Loans programme to source new recording and performance equipment to support the workshops he runs, and to allow him to further widen access to the arts to a section of the community which would otherwise find it difficult to engage with the world of music and performance.
Tanki is a two-ply dissolvable toilet tissue, manufactured without the use of plastic glues or fibres. The product does not coat constricted sewerage systems with adhesive and contributes to naturally free-flowing and blockage free pipes and tanks –including vacuum systems as found on ships.
Living up to its slogan “No glue down the loo”, the Tanki is manufactured using a new water lamination technique, therefore eliminating plastic glue while still being two-ply for comfort. It is also good for the environment, using sustainably sourced virgin pulp for dissolvability, and bulk purchases by single customers attract an environmental impact certificate for their ISO 14001 compliance audits after 12 months.
Proudly made in the UK, Tanki is legal for maritime discharge, and is the only such product marketed as compliant to Marpol regulations for the maritime market.
Business Resilience Award
The Start Up Loans programme originally funded Ayesha in October 2019, enabling her to focus on her side hustle of providing gourmet platters for family and friends to enjoy together.
When the pandemic hit, the Plattery’s original business model was no longer viable, but Ayesha was quick to pivot her business and set up Vital Meals. Ayesha started cooking and delivering meals to anyone who wasn’t able to feed themselves during this time, focusing on the elderly, vulnerable, high-risk and homeless or single-parent families.
From an initial 10 meals a day and providing support to people in Battersea, the number of meals she delivers has grown exponentially, along with the area she covers. Ayesha has now supplied over 16,000 meals while continuing to provide gourmet platter boxes and run cookery lessons for children.
Ayesha has received support from notable organisations and individuals, and was recognised with a British Empire Medal in the New Year’s Honours list. She has also been nominated to join the FA’s Lionheart Squad, supporting Marcus Rashford.
Rachel Jones of Weighsted, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire – supported by Transmit Startups
Rachel really hit the ground running after opening her shop, Weighsted, which specialises in providing zero-waste food, cleaning products and practical household accessories, in February 2020, just after serious floods had hit the area.
Though she was able to restore her premises, Rachel then faced the numerous challenges that arose when the country went into lockdown due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Initially, she thought she’d need to close down completely, but, as a local food and household goods provider, Weighsted ended up playing an even more important role for its local community than Rachel could have imagined.
In the midst of the pandemic, Weighsted began a click and collect service, as well as delivery for NHS staff and people who were unable to leave their homes. This meant the business quickly had to adapt to a new, unconventional way of operating, by developing new ways of communication between customers, taking extra health and safety precautions and sourcing hard-to-find products.
Despite the challenging landscape, Rachel’s increase in sales meant she needed to hire part-time staff to keep up with demand. She has also been able to simplify the digital shopping experience for her customers, and has begun using an app to allow people to place orders directly, making shopping even more sustainable and accessible.
Start-up Business of the Year
For entrepreneur Elaine, Vie’s Jamaican Rum Cakes isn’t just about creating a cake, but creating a legacy. She named the start-up business to honour her mum, Vie, a talented cake-maker who sadly passed away in 2018.
Elaine makes all her cakes with traditional recipes and a generous amount of rum, which has proved exceedingly popular with her customers. But she’s also committed to local and global sustainability, making all her products with ingredients local to Cumbria, and containing them in biodegradable and compostable packaging.
Elaine’s core values as a business owner encompass the love and respect she holds for her family’s Jamaican ancestry. To “remember” the slaves that paved the way for us to be able to enjoy rum today. To “honour” those who built the plantations and the rum industry. To “celebrate” the slaves who paid the price so that future generations could live in freedom.
Vie’s Jamaican Rum Cakes has gone from strength to strength, even in spite of the coronavirus pandemic. Undeterred by lockdown, Elaine has powered through the last year with passion, dedication and tenacity, developing an authentic start-up business with integrity and warmth. Her products are now sold by different stockists across the country, meaning even more people will be able to enjoy Vie’s Jamaican Rum Cakes.
Prof. Matthew Bacon of TCC-Casemix Ltd, Pitsford, Northampton – supported by First Enterprise – Enterprise Loans
Matt’s business aims to make operating theatres throughout the world more efficient, increasing the productivity of surgical services delivered within those theatres by up to 20%. This could lead to the eradication of the recurring 300,000 urgent patients denied surgery each year in the UK because of the 54% of operations that over-run and the 43% that under-run.
Professor Bacon has developed a means of breaking down the various operational processes for each procedure undertaken in an operating theatre, and calculating how much time is actually needed to complete them. Essentially, this is a methodical time and motion study of the complex work that takes place in an operating theatre, used to ensure that maximum capacity is generated from what are very expensive assets for the NHS.
By using data and headings that are internationally recognised, Matt’s idea will be scalable across the majority of developed countries. After four years of research and study, the idea is now at a stage where Matt feels able to take it to market.
The business has gained a number of awards and recognition for innovation. If the idea gains worldwide acceptance, it has the potential to drastically reduce the idle time of operating theatres, and to improve the lives of thousands of people each year who would ordinarily face delays for their vital surgery.