Coast to Capital

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Charlotte Osborne & Chris Dolan – Prolific 10

“A straight-talking marketing and communications agency and HubSpot Solutions Partner that is committed to helping clients grow their businesses by attracting new customers” is how business partners Charlotte Osborne and Chris Dolan describe their company, Prolific 10, to me when we met via Zoom. 

Chris initially set up the business in 2019 in Brighton and he was joined by Charlotte in September 2020 – the two had worked together previously at a PR agency. Both possess a very different but complementary set of skills, which allows them to offer a full suite of digital and content solutions to their clients. The name of the company comes from Chris’ love of Tottenham Hotspur FC and their “prolific” goal scorer Harry Kane, who wears the number 10 shirt. 

“We always had ambitions to go it alone, but a range of things held us back initially. However, now we are working together, we really appreciate having each other on-hand to discuss ideas, address any issues, and offer support generally,” says Charlotte. 

A key unique selling point for Prolific 10 is that they are an official HubSpot Solutions Partner, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system which allows businesses to bring all aspects of their sales and marketing activity into one place. “This allows us to have an edge on other companies as we take a more integrated approach to marketing and sales campaign activity,” adds Charlotte. 

It was a successful application for an Invest4 grant, assisted by the team at GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital, which enabled Prolific 10 to invest fully into the HubSpot system – a vital tool to attract and service both current and future clients. “The grant provided a fantastic opportunity for us,” stated Chris. “It meant that we could differentiate ourselves in a very crowded market of agencies, whilst giving us the confidence to commit to match-funding to further invest in the business.” 

With the grant recently awarded, Charlotte and Chris are now busy putting their plans into place and helping current clients to onboard the HubSpot system, creating an additional revenue stream alongside their traditional marketing activity.

“We initially heard about the Invest4 grants available through GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital as part of The Business Hothouse on LinkedIn. We got in touch to find out how they could help our business,” says Charlotte. “The team were really helpful and were able to provide tons of information and advice based on their experience.” 

“It was incredibly helpful to have a fresh pair of eyes on our grant application and to support us with the financial planning and documents that were required,” said Charlotte. “We knew that HubSpot was key to our success in helping our clients grow. That’s why we wanted to invest fully in the software and the Invest4 grant helped us to do just that.” 

The pair are very keen to grow their business and are looking to recruit more staff to broaden their service offering even further, but at present they describe themselves as “having their heads down working to develop a firm foundation for the business”. They have seen an increase in people returning to work and more businesses opening after the restraints of lockdown which has brought more enquiries to Prolific10. 

“We’re really looking forward to helping businesses to get their marketing and sales activity working again and thanks to the Invest4 grant, we have the best system to do just that,” states Charlotte. Looking ahead, they are also hoping to build a local community for HubSpot knowledge sharing in Brighton & Hove. 

For more information on Prolific10, click here to visit their website 

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Rebecca Dowdy & Scott Blott – Castle Construction

Husband and wife team, Rebecca Dowdy and Scott Blott met in 1997 after she moved to the South Coast to join the Ericsson graduate programme after completing her engineering degree. Fast forward to 2004 and with support from Rebecca, Scott founded Castle Construction while she developed a management career in telecoms and IT for large corporates. Three children later and while working for American Express, Rebecca was looking for a more flexible approach to work around her family and Scott had developed the business as far as he could on his own. 

The solution to both issues saw Rebecca resigning from her role and joining the family business, but sadly Scott’s mum was then diagnosed with terminal cancer. Providing palliative care at home meant that the focus was moved from the business, as well as looking after the children who were still young. 

Once Rebecca was in a position to give her attention to Castle Construction, she set about defining clear roles between herself and Scott to ensure that they both worked on the areas that they had individual strengths as well as provide some breathing space for them as a married couple working together. 

“It can be stressful being together all the time and we felt that it was important for each of us to do what we do best, so Scott, who has experience in large scale civil engineering projects concentrates on the construction work side and I am the customer facing side of the business,” stated Rebecca. “This works well and whilst I sometimes moan about it, it does play to our strengths!” 

Initially Rebecca brought the current team together in a workshop so that they could discuss their capabilities as a company and what they did well, which translated into their company values and mission. “Our expertise is in structural work, and we wanted to focus on what we were good at, rather than trying to win jobs that weren’t really part of our core competencies,” commented Rebecca. 

This clarity of vision meant that they could be very decisive about the work that they took on, sub-contracting out any parts of jobs that did not fit that criteria. They provide construction services to residential and commercial clients for jobs that include extensions, basements and any job which requires structural work. “We require all clients to have read our Information Pack, which includes information about our service, case studies with costings and the questions they need to consider for their project.” Rebecca added, “We also ask that all clients have a full complement of drawings unless we are providing the architectural work for them which enables us to be more selective about which projects we take on.” 

Traditionally, the company found work through referrals and recommendations, but they wanted to expand the reach of their offer and potentially attract new clients. “We knew that we needed to embrace marketing to achieve this but were keen to ensure that everything about our messaging reinforced our company values at all times,” stated Rebecca. 

She heard about GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital and their Invest4 grants through the company’s membership of Business Network International, a global networking organisation. They got in touch with the team to discuss their business needs and worked with them to create a wish list of items to help them grow their business. “We didn’t apply for a large sum, as our main need was around the website and our marketing activity,” stated Rebecca. “Nicola was really helpful, helping us to ensure that the information we provide on our application form provided the funders with exactly what they needed to know.” 

“The help that GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital gave us was invaluable as even though we already had many of the documents required such as a business plan and financial forecast, it brought them together in one place.” She added, “It was still a fair amount of work to complete the application but worth it in the end!” 

Part of the work that the grant will help to fund, is the launch and promotion of a new partnership with Fresco Living who make garden rooms. This will add another offer to their portfolio of services in response to the growing demand for home offices and to create additional room for living and working within gardens. “The grant money will also help us to develop a tool on the website so that potential clients can proceed through the enquiry process more effectively to decide whether to go forward with their project with us,” explained Rebecca. 

“I love a challenge of a new project!” stated Rebecca, “the Invest4 grant has enabled us to push forward with our ideas to develop the business. We hope to establish the new offer alongside our core services as well as helping to develop our in-house teams. This is dependent on us attracting new clients and potentially bigger projects.” 

“My advice to any other business looking to develop is to be focused on the direction in which you want to travel and that your values and mission carry through everything that you do in the business.” She continued, “Sometimes it can be overwhelming, but I would highly recommend the support from GetSet or Growth Coast to Capital and the Invest4 grant. For me, they really helped with planning cashflow during the 1:1 sessions we had.” 

For more information about Castle Construction, visit their website here, or on LinkedInFacebook or Instagram  

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Fraser Daun & Jonny Patterson – SelectMyTalent

The airline industry has been through a turbulent time over the past few years which has resulted in many employees within the sector facing redundancy and struggling to locate new jobs. Many operators have also experienced difficulties in recruiting the right staff with huge variations in recruitment practices undertaken by departments that have also been reduced in size. 

Two men hoping to help pilots find positions at the same time as assist operators in their recruitment search are Fraser Daun and Jonny Patterson, who in September 2020 founded SelectMyTalent Ltd, a company with a new approach to pilot assessment and recruitment. 

Jonny Patterson
Jonny Patterson

Being commercial pilots themselves and both with flight training organisation experience, they understand the frustrations pilots and operators have with the current assessment and recruitment process. “We want to improve the way recruitment is carried out within the industry, making it easier for pilots to present themselves to potential employers,” stated Fraser. He continued, “the current methods are out of date, and we wanted to ensure both pilots and operators looking to recruit were better satisfied by the selection process.”

Fraser Daun
Fraser Daun

SelectMyTalent works on the basis that for pilots, it carries out an initial check of documentation including their CV, followed up by an online interview and aptitude test, which if they are successful in passing, is followed up by a robust assessment day. This final part of the process which takes place face to face at Gatwick, includes psychometric testing, 1:1 interview, group assessment, a simulator assessment and a full debrief. Once they pass this process, they join a community of talent which is promoted and available to operators to help them develop their career opportunities. 

For operators, this process means they can save time, money and resources by selecting from a pre-assessed pool of talent, while paying a fixed fee for pilots upon completion of line training. 

The COVID-19 pandemic took a significant toll on the airline industry and Jonny was made redundant himself, however with determination and a slice of good fortune, he was back flying in March this year. “There are pockets within the airline industry which have continued working, and indeed grown, during the pandemic but there have been many redundancies. We have received CVs from pilots with decades of experience and thousands of flying hours, it is truly humbling to see,” commented Jonny. 

One problem that the pair anticipate for operators is that as we come out of lockdown and flights start again, the crew required to fly them have found themselves new careers, have retired or are not willing to return on a full-time basis. Each of these factors creates a shortage of experienced and trained pilots. “We are determined to be in the right place to help deliver a community of pilots, pre-assessed and keen to work – this has been our ambition from the start.” said Fraser. 

We decided we wanted to set up the business in 2020 and were looking at the financial support available to help us when a contact at the Local Enterprise Partnership suggested we contact GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital. We attended a number of workshops to help us prepare an application for an Invest4 grant with 1:1 support from the GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital team. “Their help was invaluable as we had identified we needed to invest in our technology and software to offer the quality and sophistication of service we needed in order to set ourselves above others,” stated Jonny. 

“We thought there was demand for our service and this was confirmed when we went out with our first promotion, we received applications from around the globe,” commented Fraser. “The Invest4 grant process was pretty straightforward although it was difficult as a new business to forecast what our trading would be like in three years. GetSet Coast to Capital helped us with tweaks to the cash flow forecasts and other financial documents which ultimately helped us to be awarded the funding.”

The grant they received has enabled the pair to invest in the technology to make their website and Applicant Tracking System (ATS) work efficiently and to offer a service which is far more robust than many other recruitment organisations. 

Looking forward, Fraser and Jonny are hoping to expand their service wider by broadening their client base to include other roles such as engineers and cabin crew. They highlight the fact that having a strong network of contacts within the industry, which they have engaged with throughout the company formation process. Their feedback was critical when setting up the business and process flows. They are keen to see how the sector recovers post lockdown but are optimistic about their positioning and timing in the marketplace. 

Business is going well, they have just taken on their second employee and have plans to take on two more in the next few months, including making use of the Government’s Kick Start scheme which encourages employers to take on young people. 

When you are setting up a business, you have to wear a lot of different hats, but the process has been a great focus during the difficult times of the pandemic,” states Jonny. “However, the reward is in being able to help other pilots get back flying, where they deserve to be.”

When asked what advice they would give to others starting their own business, they agree the key thing is passion and relevant industry knowledge. “Use your strengths and bear in mind that it will be much harder than you imagine at the outset but having the support of organisations like GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital, is definitely a bonus!” 

For more information visit their website here  

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Roisin Meredith – Roisin’s Water Kefir

There has been a lot of coverage in the media in the past few years about people’s changing eating and drinking habits and the move towards a healthier diet as well as the growth in demand for non-alcoholic drinks. One woman who is definitely part of this movement is Roisin Meredith, who produces water kefir, with its range of health benefits. 

“I never set out to run my own business,” Roisin makes clear at the start of our interview, “the business came out of necessity after my baby daughter Florence became ill and we struggled to find out how to help her get better.” 

Initially Roisin’s daughter was a healthy, bouncing baby but he suddenly began to lose weight, could not sleep and was continually crying and despite a barrage of medical tests by doctors, neither a diagnosis nor a treatment could be found. 

Roisin was a chemistry teacher at the time and her background in science became a major factor in the eventual good health of her baby. Roisin had initially worked in the corporate world for FMCG companies such as L’Oreal but she realised that she was not ideally suited to a desk job and she retrained as a teacher. “I suppose that I have always been a little bit entrepreneurial,” states Roisin, “alongside my traditional career I ran events, set up a hat company and had a whole range of ideas but fear of failure prevented me from taking those all-important steps to self-employment.” 

Roisin describes how her upbringing, with both parents being doctors, led her to follow the traditional career path and she soon became frustrated, feeling that “she was not living in the now.” She remembers how running your own business was not an option for most young people, with the exception of perhaps being a plumber or hairdresser, but that she felt deep down that one day she would run her own business. 

When her young daughter became ill, Roisin’s scientific background led her to believe that the issue was related to food and she initially put her on a FODMAP diet to restrict what she was eating and drinking. Roisin engaged the services of a nutritionist and a more holistic approach to her daughter’s diet helped her dramatically, “Realising that the antibiotics that I had taken whilst pregnant with my daughter, had destroyed her microbiome which meant that she couldn’t digest any food, was a key moment for me,” comments Roisin. 

Within two weeks of taking a powdered probiotic, her daughter was back to good health and this dramatic change “fired off the science part of my brain and my lightbulb moment happened as I could see that this was a way that I could help others also struggling with similar digestion issues,” Roisin says. She started to research the subject of microbiomes and discovered that many medical conditions appear to be linked to the bacteria in our bodies. 

Roisin started to ferment food and drink, starting with milk kefir and kombucha and her business idea was born. She moved to making water kefir and selling it at local markets in September 2018 as well as making it for family and friends and describes the production process as “very therapeutic.” She admits that at this point she was worried that what she was doing would not pass the requirements of Environmental Health and Trading Standards. However, having engaged with them, she soon realised that by having a dialogue with these official bodies, they were actually very helpful to her. Roisin describes it, “I had a mental block about this but when I recognised it as such, I was then able to deal with it and move forward.”

rosins water kefir

Roisin found that she really enjoyed talking to people at markets about the products she was making, and connections made with other small businesses really helped her to build confidence including a pitch she made to a local gin distillery. Whilst she didn’t win her pitch, they did put her in contact with organisations who could help her business. Having successfully been awarded a Start Up Loan, she left her teaching job to dedicate more time to her business but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and all of her potential sales outlets such as festivals, events and markets all closed. 

Roisin approached GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital who provided her with coaching and 1:1 support and she describes this as the point where she finally felt she had stepped into a business owner mode. GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital encouraged her to apply for an Invest4 grant to help make the most out of the money from the Start Up Loan as well as pay for a sales and marketing consultant to take her business to the next level. 

Support from Jonathan and Nicola at GetSet helped her to develop a full business plan, together with three-year cash forecast to plan for the future. “I had never done these plans before, but they helped me to really think about the details. They had lots of suggestions and I felt that they really wanted to understand my business and go through everything, particularly with my Invest4 grant application which I was successful in getting.” 

Roisin describes the support she received from the GetSet team as an “elevating experience” which made a tremendous difference to how she approached her business. She is now working with a family who are bringing land back into their stewardship where they have a vineyard and micro-brewery and plan to set up a community of like-minded businesses. “We have a dream of offering people the best of food and drink in Sussex and to become a destination for people looking for healthy, local products with a strong provenance,” says Roisin. 

Post COVID-19, Roisin envisages that more people will give more consideration to the products that they buy and that the experience of lockdown has opened their eyes to the benefits of buying from local suppliers. 

Roisin advises anyone thinking of starting their own business to set aside their fears, to take advantage of the support available through the GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital programme. “The GetSet team helped me to really develop my business and to create a strong foundation on which I can build – it was brilliant!” states Roisin. 

For more information about Roisin’s Water Kefir click here or on Instagram here

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