Behind the business loans – Who we support, and why.
It’s been a busy year for business loans here at Robert Owen and we have a number of interesting clients and business ideas that we are supporting at the moment. We form a lasting relationship with all of our clients and here are a few that you might be interested in looking at too:
Dylan and Helen approached us earlier this year to ask for financial support in starting a cycle fitness business. Dylan, who is an ex-Marine and accredited cycling coach, identified a gap in the market for a gym facility that offered tailored fitness training for cyclists. They planned to rent space on a business park and invest in Watt Bikes, which are specialist cycling simulators, providing all sorts of feedback regarding fitness and performance.
Here at Robert Owen we have our fair share of obsessive cyclists, and we were very keen to assist in getting this project off the ground with a start-up loan. Since opening, the gym has gone from strength to strength and now employs professional cyclist Jack Sadler. In the last month Dylan and Helen have taken on more space and doubled their floor area. They are now the biggest Watt bike gym in Wales and in the top ten worldwide. Ex-Welsh Rugby Internationals Ryan Jones and Shane Williams both train with Dylan and 250 people have gone through the induction since the gym opened on the 1st June.
One of our most recent loans has been to ETO Music Practise, who are working to establish music practice ensemble groups across Wales. The directors are accomplished musician Cenfyn Evans and Robert Winter, who has worked in the past on the roll out the BBC’s digital services. ETO’s idea is to provide digital tuition aids to community musical groups so that all members, young and old, can learn and collaborate on the same musical pieces, whatever their initial skill level or their chosen instrument.
ETO Music Practice has already been nominated for a Best Digital Resource Award and they are currently providing the practice applications for Young Voices, a five night sell-out choral event to be held at the O2 arena.
Alan Roberts approached us last year as he wanted to expand his digital mapping business. Alan has contracts with the National Trust and Natural Resources Wales to carry out surveying and aerial photography work using a drone. He was looking for assistance with the funding of a 3d laser scanner that would allow him to carry out more detailed surveys of buildings and urban areas. This type of surveying will soon be mandatory for any public funded building, and is very much a growing area of business.
Alan has established his business on Anglesey and so far has managed to attract enough interest in North Wales that he hasn’t had to go elsewhere in order to find work. The scanner cost Alan £22,000 – an expense he was unable to cover himself or receive funding from a high street bank to cover. Since buying the equipment, his business has gone from strength to strength.
We have just approved a loan to three people from North Wales who have worked for many years with autistic children and adults. With government austerity measures leading to cuts in services, Martin, Michelle and Adrian are opening a drop-in / day care centre for people with autism in the Rhyl area. They found a public-spirited landlord who offered to help them make this happen, but they really struggled to find finance for fit-out and decoration. That’s where Robert Owen came in.
Autism Rox will offer sessional and regular respite support to carers so that they can have time off to attend appointments or simply do their shopping. They also have plans to partner with other community groups in order to secure work placements for some of their older and more able service users.
These great ideas are just a few of the wide range of small enterprises that we have helped this year. By providing an alternative to mainstream money markets and global banking networks, we are able to target investments directly where it is needed within our communities in Wales. Many of the businesses that come to us would otherwise fail, or at the very least struggle to access much higher cost finance.
Our support of these business is made possible through our relationship with the Start Up Loan Company.