Comes as the British Business Bank visits micro businesses in the region to discuss the opportunities for future growth
Keith Morgan, CEO of the British Business Bank – the UK government’s economic development bank – recently visited Kent-based start-ups to learn more about their experiences of accessing funding and support in the region.
The visit coincided with a roundtable hosted by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), with representatives from the Bank and The Start Up Loans Company (SULCo). Attendees heard first-hand about the opportunities for growth in Kent, as well as the challenges faced by businesses in the local area.
Keith Morgan, CEO of the British Business Bank, commented: “Meeting local Kent business owners provided a great opportunity for us to better understand entrepreneurial activity in the region and the challenges businesses face when accessing finance. We will take those insights back and see how our programmes might be further developed.”
“Our recent merger with the Start Up Loans Company means that, as a group, the Bank is now able to offer support for funding for businesses at all stages of their development – from microfinance to later-stage venture capital. By helping Kent businesses get the finance they need to start up and realise their growth ambitions, we’re enabling them to create more jobs and contribute to the local economy.”
One of the businesses in attendance at the roundtable was Tidi-Cable, a Kent manufacturer of heavy-duty cable management products which is looking to move into the European market, after selling more than 120,000 products to British customers over the last year.
Tidi-Cable produces a range of lightweight hooks and hangers to keep cables off the floor and prevent trip hazards on building sites. It was launched in 2012 by Perry Coppen, who came up with the idea during his gap year.
A former construction and engineering management student at the University of Loughborough, Perry secured a £15,000 loan from the government-backed Start Up Loans Company to kick-start his business. The funding covered initial start-up costs, such as manufacturing his first products and designing the company website.
Capable of holding a weight of up to 10kg, Tidi-Cables are already popular with large UK firms including Balfour Beatty and BP.
After huge sales success in the construction sector helped to boost yearly sales to 120,000 units, the company is now looking to enter the European wholesale market over the next year and begin selling its products to companies in Belgium and Holland.
Tidi-Cable currently employs three people, but is hoping to take on more staff as its international expansion gathers momentum.
Since launching in 2012, The Start Up Loans Company has provided over £650,000 in start-up funding to business owners across in the local authority of Medway (including Kent), helping 112 entrepreneurs.
Perry Coppen, Founder of Tidi-Cable, said: “Construction sites have to meet stringent health and safety requirements, and having loose wires around can be a major hazard for workers. When I was studying for my degree I spent a lot of time on building sites and realised I could come up with a solution. I started to put a business plan in place and approached The Start Up Loans Company, which provided me with funding support and a dedicated mentor to help me get started right away. So, the whole thing took off almost overnight.
“We’ve been growing the business for the past five years. It’s been hard work at times, but I’ve enjoyed every minute and it’s rewarding to see such great sales for the last year. We know there’s a huge market for our products in the UK and now we’re keen to take our idea to the rest of Europe. It’ll be a challenge, but we’re confident that with more hard work we can make Tidi-Cable an even greater success.”
Joanna Hill, Interim CEO of The Start Up Loans Company, said: “It’s fantastic to see Tidi-Cable grow from a start-up into a flourishing business. Perry has created a simple product solution to a major issue in the construction sector. It’s a great example of looking at everyday problems and turning them into a business opportunity.
“We provide funding and mentoring support to get start-ups like this off the ground. It can be a real challenge accessing finance in the early stages of your journey, but help is available. Being self-employed can give you a real sense of achievement and the chance to do something you’re really passionate about – so if you have a great idea we’d encourage you to take the support on offer to help you succeed.”