Start Up Loan recipient Andrew McAlpine took out a loan to help develop his flower kiosk, Rockflower.
The business is situated in Blackfriars station and also operates as an innovative vending machine. Andrew talks about his experience of the Start Up Loans process and the benefits of mentoring.
What inspired you to start your own business?
I developed the idea for Rockflower when living in Los Angeles and I struggled to find the flower styles I liked. On my return home I realised that in a fast paced city like London, alongside the online shopping revolution, people should be able to get luxury and stylish products 24 hours a day in 24 hour locations. With this in mind the Rockflower flower vending unit was created.
What stage was your business at when you received your Start Up Loan?
We were on the cusp of getting ready to start the business. The unit had been built and just needed modification to meet Transport for London health and safety standards to be placed on the station forecourt.
Why did you choose to apply for a Start Up Loan?
I liked the scheme on offer for startups, in particular the free mentoring that was involved.
How much funding did you receive?
I received a loan for £5,000, as did my wife who is also my business partner.
What did you use the Start Up Loan for?
I needed the loan to pay for the modifications so the vending unit could meet Transport for London health and safety standards. I also used the loan to purchase stock.
Have you used any of the support provided by Start Up Loans?
Yes – I was matched with a great mentor, Julie. She has a wealth of business experience and helped with a variety of aspects from National Insurance to advertising the flower vending unit. She always provides a great overview of any problems that I have, and helps me work out the answer.
What is the best advice you could give aspiring/fellow business owners?
Remember that it’s not going to happen overnight. I have learnt that it can take a while to establish yourself – you’re not always going to make money immediately. You need make sure you are 100% concentrated on the business and get your name out there.