Coast to Capital


David Banting – Professional Automotive Services (PAS)

David Banting originally started his career training to be a qualified mechanic, working at a local garage which gave him work experience but also made him realise that he wanted to work more on the management side of the industry. He went back to college to study Business Management but states that “the knowledge and experience of the motor mechanic side of things has been invaluable, even years later, as it helps me to communicate confidently with fleet maintenance teams.”

David later “fell into” sales and decided to pull the two elements together, forming initially LCJD Business Consulting Ltd, which later evolved into Professional Automotive Services (PAS) when his friend and business partner Chris Lamport joined forces with him. They brought together a long history of experience and knowledge of corporate fleet services and vehicle manufacture on David’s part with Chris bringing a similar level of experience in the corporate retail sector. This mix meant that together they could offer smaller companies the benefits and experience of the large, corporate market to create greater efficiencies and stronger partnerships.

“Our business model is based on everything we have learnt in our careers and as a result we are able to offer customers a comprehensive outsource fleet service. We can manage all driver queries, requests, information about vehicle maintenance as well as being able to negotiate powerful discounts due to our contacts within the industry,” stated David. 

The company boasts a number of high-profile business clients including a large hotel chain, one of the largest publishers in the UK, a well -known opticians plus a global computer company. “The business is going well, especially as clients have come out of the national lockdowns and starting to increase trade again,”said David. Looking to grow the business to the next level, they participated in the GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital programme to find the answers to some of the questions they had about how to move forward with the business. 

“The workshops were really valuable, and we found Nicola Wiley, the Programme Director to be very engaging and happy to answer any question we had,” commented David. “It helped us to shape our business on paper and to put in place formal business plans and a cashflow forecast.”

David added that the support they received enabled them to present a more professional approach to documenting the business, which would be very useful when working with new clients who didn’t know them. “We knew that the service we provide is of a high-quality but needed this to extend to our business documents as well,” said David. 

“GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital helped us to work towards our goals to develop the business,”stated David. This included an application for an Invest4 grant so that they could introduce a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) to the company. “This will allow us to manage customers more effectively with some processes being more automated which in turn will mean that we have time to dedicate to the growth of the business,” he explained. The grant opportunity meant that the pair could look at a more expensive part-bespoke system that they originally planned to purchase which in the long-term would help to future proof the business.

David and Chris plan to grow the business themselves to the point where they can then look to offer franchises across the country. “We want to provide a turnkey solution to others who are currently working within the industry but looking for greater flexibility and opportunity to work for themselves. The CRM system is imperative to these plans,” stated David. 

David explained how the fleet market has faced a challenging few years, with many business clients having to reduce spend during COVID, which meant that they had to be more agile in the service they provided. The strong relationships that they had built up previously with clients helped maintain the trust and custom of clients during this period and this is now paying dividends as business picks up again. 

“We offer a different proposition to clients as we are always on their side, working to provide the best service, at the best price rather than simply providing a quick solution to their fleet needs,” said David. “Through our experience in the industry, we can highlight the genuine opportunities to clients and ensure that they are not being manipulated in order for them to spend money.”

With the help of GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital and the Invest4 grant, they hope to also improve their website in terms of providing a driver portal where clients can access their accounts easily, linking with the CRM system to provide a seamless service. “We would have struggled to complete the grant application without Nicola’s help as the documents are quite lengthy, but she made the process much easier and was always on hand to offer advice.” 

“We are proud of what we have achieved so far, which is now more obvious through the business documents that we have produced with the programme’s help,” said David. “This will help us as a business to grow, not just in the immediate future but also long-term and for that we are very thankful.”

For more information visit

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Libby Wilton – Opulent Designs

Opulent Designs is the world’s first designer and supplier of bespoke carbon fibre lifts for superyachts and the ultra-luxury residential market. Despite being a relatively recent start-up, the company has big plans to work in the marine, residential and leisure sectors, bringing the benefits of carbon fibre to design. The company’s CEO has almost two decades of experience within the lift industry. 

The company came to GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital initially to seek advice on grant funding and investment to help specifically with marketing their product to potential customers.

The GetSet team were really helpful. Their workshops gave us an overview of the funding and investment sector and helped us to decide which route was right for our needs as a company.

Company Secretary, Libby Wilton

One-to-one coaching sessions with the GetSet team enabled Libby to review her business plans and cashflow forecast. “I had previously prepared business plans, but Nicola’s guidance helped us to look at our financial documents with fresh eyes, highlighting where we needed to adjust spend,” said Libby. The company is now progressing with applications for funding through Let’s Do Business. 

“We are keen to install a showcase carbon fibre lift at a specialist marine lift installer’s HQ in Rotterdam which will enable potential customers to view the product in a working environment,”commented Libby. Initial feedback on the product has been very positive as carbon fibre brings benefits to the customer in terms of its light weight and ease of fitting for the superyacht industry. They plan to target luxury residential developments in the Middle East and will be providing sample boxes (themselves made of carbon fibre), to demonstrate the product and to help build awareness and demand. 

To achieve these goals, we need investment and the help provided by GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital was invaluable in preparing the documents required for funding applications and our credibility as a new business.

Added Libby

She works alongside her husband in the company, who has over 30 years of experience in the commercial and residential sectors, while her youngest son works in a complementary side of the business focused on promoting carbon fibre in the manufacture of classic cars and motorcycles as EVs.

“We have a head start on our competitors which gives us a distinct advantage, but we need to move fast to establish ourselves in the marketplace” stated Libby. She describes both the superyacht and luxury residential marketing as buoyant, with the current economic difficulties not affecting their target market. The company is confident that there will be strong demand for its innovative product and is approaching potential equity investors alongside its current funding application.

For more information visit

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Emanuel Squires

A lifelong Arsenal supporter, Emmanuel Squires is taking inspiration from his love of football for a new business venture which he hopes will “bring the game to the ride, all day, all the way.”

With a career in IT, it was inevitable that Emmanuel would utilise technology in his idea to create an app which allows sports fans to share rides to games in a new way. “I knew that I had the skills to develop a prototype app, even though I had never created one before,” stated Emmanuel. 

Lockdown proved a key point in his life, as working at home, he had more time to think about the initial idea which sprang from a conversation with a friend involved in sport, who struggled to find travel options for games which were cost effective but also added to the enjoyment of the game.

Having developed the app, Emmanuel realised that he also needed to brush up on the business skills required to launch a business and this was where GetSet for Growth Coast to Captial came in. Their programme of practical workshops combined with information sessions and 1:1 support meant that he could increase his business knowledge at the same time as finding out about the Invest4 grant funding available through The Business Hothouse.

The GetSet for Growth team helped me to develop my business plan and prepare the financial documents I needed to make my business work. I’m now putting all the knowledge from the workshops and support from the GetSet for Growth team into action and am planning to apply for a grant to help fund equipment as well as help from external consultants.

Emmanuel Squires

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Mike Noble – Noble & Stace

Like most ideas that arise in a pub, over a glass of your favourite tipple with his friend Mike Stace, the idea of becoming a chocolatier came somewhat out of the blue for Mike Noble. Having had a successful career in business, followed by a period running a B&B, Mike took a two-day course at The Chocolate Academy, coming back with lots of ideas for a new business venture. 

Six months of practice and experimentation later, Mike had used the time not only to refine his technique but also to explore if a business based around chocolate was viable and if there was a market for his products. “I knew that I had a love of chocolate and that lots of people shared this love,” commented Mike. 

Mike identified that there was a potential market in the Sussex area that he lived for high quality artisan chocolate products, having put his previous experience in business planning and marketing in practice. “Looking at the competition within this crowded marketplace, I knew that the branding, packaging and price were key factors in our future success,” stated Mike. 

“My differentiation as a company was that everything was made by hand, but this did mean that my production capacity was limited, so initially we didn’t sell online,” continued Mike, “however when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we had to rethink this approach.”

The trend for people to treat themselves and show support for others through gifting during the lockdowns meant that there was an increase in demand for chocolate. “An advantage that we had as a company was our reputation locally and our use of local ingredients which added to the story behind our products,” stated Mike. Whereas the demand from the hotel market disappeared due to them being closed, there was an increase in business from companies wanting to reward or treat staff. As a small company, Noble & Stace were able to personalise items and send to multiple addresses which was a distinct advantage over competitors. The company even introduced a Lockdown tablette which was very popular. 

The situation meant that Mike needed to upgrade their website to enable customers to place orders easily and to reach the new markets opening up. Having received business grants previously, he sought to find investment and was referred to The Business Hothouse and in turn to GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital. 

Initially I chatted through what we wanted to achieve with Nicola Wiley, the Programme Director and during our 1:1 sessions, she helped me to develop the business plans and financial documents required for the Invest4 grant. She was really helpful, even though I thought I knew how to complete a grant application, the support she gave was very worthwhile.

Mike Noble

Mike submitted an Invest4 grant application for website development to provide customers with a better shopping experience along with a new tempering machine to assist in the production of the products, which would be time saving for the business. The machine would also allow the company to introduce new products more easily and increase the volume of production to service the expected upsurge in customer demand. 

Even with the plans to expand what they do, the company remains true to its original values of using high quality, locally sourced products which have included sparkling wines, artisan gin, cream and butter. “There are seasonal trends in chocolate, and we have seen an increase in customers looking for vegan products. We are looking to develop a subscription service to move away from wholesale to direct sales which will allow us to test products more easily to see what people like,” commented Mike. 

Their chocolate products are sold in a number of local farm shops and specialist outlets and Mike is now teaching people to how to temper chocolate and make their own truffles in small groups. “This was never part of the original plan and teaching people is out of my comfort zone, but there is so much interest in what we do,” added Mike. The future looks extremely busy and with the recent news that the company had been awarded their Invest4 grant, Mike is likely to be even busier! 

To find out more about Noble & Stace, visit their website or follow them on Facebook or Instagram   

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YTKO wins Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2022

YTKO has been honoured with a 2022 Queen’s Award for Enterprise, one of only 226 organisations to be recognised nationally.

The awards celebrate the success of exciting, innovative businesses which are leading the way with pioneering products or services, delivering impressive social mobility programmes or showing their commitment to excellent sustainable development practices. 

Announced today (Thursday 21 April), YTKO has been recognised for its excellence in promoting opportunity through social mobility, winning one of only nine awards in this category for 2022.

YTKO’s 100+ team is led by CEO, Bev Hurley, CBE, who has previously won the Queen’s Individual Award for Enterprise Promotion in 2010, and is the current Chair of the Institute of Economic Development.

“Being honoured with the Queen’s Award is a wonderful recognition of the work and the impact that the whole team has achieved,” says Bev. “Everything we do is all about making a tangible, positive impact, changing the life chances of individuals, measurably transforming and accelerating business success, and contributing to the economy and the communities in which our business operates”. 

YTKO has helped entrepreneurs start, sustain and scale their businesses for over 40 years, through both strategic consultancy and hands-on operational support over the full lifecycle.  A relentless focus on creating measurable results has contributed to economic and social prosperity by generating wealth and jobs.

An independent evaluation of YTKO’s Social Mission concluded that over a 15 year period, covering recession, austerity, Brexit and Covid, YTKO helped nearly 31,000 entrepreneurs, and over 22,500 growing businesses.  This work, including the raising of £73m in finance, enabled the creation of over 10,300 new jobs and a conservative estimate of £691 million GVA for the economy. 

For new entrepreneurs, YTKO’s Outset service combines personal and business skills development, and focuses on the critical success factors for sustainable enterprise. Many of the entrepreneurs supported are from deprived areas and disadvantaged backgrounds – those most in need of effective support under the Levelling Up agenda.

YTKO are delivering the three of the UK Governments’ new Community Renewal Fund pilot programmes working with the Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority, Devon County Council and Portsmouth City Council, in their respective regions.  These “Start and Grow” programmes help new entrepreneurs and early-stage small businesses get on track for success.

Bev says Economic growth must be really inclusive, otherwise the Levelling Up agenda will fail to make a difference to our left behind or underperforming communities.  Our track record proves that financial and social exclusion can be overcome.  We’re so proud that not only does the 3-year survival rate of our clients’ businesses outstrip the UK average, but that over half of them are women – and we support BaME businesses at 4x the average.”

For YTKO, it’s not just about starting and sustaining, but ensuring that existing companies achieve their full growth potential, which is why they deploy a suite of services tailored for every stage of the business lifecycle.  YTKO’s GetSet for Growth and GetSet Accelerate services are designed specifically to help small SMEs grow, and high growth scale-ups to accelerate their growth.  Through GetSet, we provide SMEs with professional 1:1 coaching and consultancy to help them overcome their growth challenges, masterclasses, mentoring, peer support, connections, grants and equity.   We provide high growth businesses what they need in order to scale and create sustainable, high quality jobs for their local economies.

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David Pratt & Louise Blunden – Eschmann Technologies

The Eschmann name has a long heritage reaching back to the 1830’s manufacturing medical and dental equipment in the UK. Initially established in London, the company has evolved through the years as a leading inventor and manufacturer of sterilising equipment including the autoclaves for which it is well known today. 

Eschmann Technologies now manufactures and supplies healthcare products and services to clinical professionals worldwide, both direct and through a network of distributors. With a strong family ethos, the company is led by Chairman George Kennedy, CBE, with his elder son Philip as Managing Director, and Philip’s brother George as Commercial Director. 

The business is now based at Lancing in West Sussex, the company having moved to the South Coast in the late 1940’s. It has a strong reputation as a market leader in its field and is now developing growth plans to expand their product range for the overseas market as well as harnessing technology to connect with its wide network of customers. 

It was these plans for growth which prompted the company to seek potential investment and David Pratt, Chief Operating Officer and Louise Blunden, Financial Transactions Manager explained to me via Zoom how the Invest4 grant available through The Business Hothouse Programme is helping them. 

“Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, we were busy setting up the systems and processes for the company following its transition to private ownership. We were also looking at which parts of the Lancing site we needed to make our operations more efficient moving forward,” stated David. “Many of our clients, specifically dentists, were closed for a short period which had an impact on our business, but luckily, most opened again although demand for our product and maintenance service was temporarily reduced.”

Louise was the person responsible for co-ordinating their application for an Invest4 grant and both she and David attended a number of workshops run by GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital to help them prepare the paperwork. “As an established company, who had previously been owned by a large corporation, we already had many of the required documents in place, but it was fascinating to hear the experience and views of other businesses also engaged in the process,” said Louise. “What was invaluable about the support from GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital was the knowledge and advice shared by Nicola Wiley, the Programme Director – she helped us to ensure that we had the right level of detail and how to present the information on our application.”

David explained that the availability of the Invest4 grant gave them the impetus to put their growth plans in place. “It forced us to bring the timetable for the project forward, which has been a good thing as it will enable us to bring to market the new product developments sooner than previously anticipated.” He also praised the support provided through the 1:1 sessions with Nicola which assisted them through the whole process, and in August 2021, they were awarded their grant. “It was a real team effort with a strict deadline helping to make us focus on what we really wanted to achieve in terms of growth as a company,” he added. 

With the grant money, the company have plans to develop two projects – the first is to develop a new version of one of their leading autoclaves with a voltage suitable for the overseas market, which they are keen to enter. “We hope to make our products available to more markets as well as increase our market share in the UK,” explained David. 

Little Sister SES 3020B Autoclave

The other project is based around developing the software to enable the readings from their machines to be stored in the Cloud, enabling easier access for customers and the company itself to provide a more efficient and accurate record of performance by the machines, as well as speed up recording and improve the ability to diagnose faults. There will also be a web portal developed as part of this project where records can be stored and training resources made available. “This will give us more sophistication in the service we provide for both the UK and overseas markets and enable us to grow more effectively – thanks to the Invest4 grant,” commented David. 

The company has recently launched a new website which has a clearer offering for its customers, focusing on key areas of the business and the benefits they bring. David stated, “We would have worked on the two projects anyway but the application process galvanised us to work faster towards our objectives and the support available will really help us to achieve our plans in a shorter time-frame.”

The projects are now underway and whilst David and Louise reflect that the process has been demanding, it has been worth the effort, in order to kick start the company’s plans. “We would probably have still been in the planning stage,” admits David, “but now we are at a really exciting stage of product development and feeling confident about our growth plans going forward.”  

For more information about Eschmann Technologies, visit their website or follow them on FacebookTwitter LinkedIn and YouTube

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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 

Follow them on Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Instagram   

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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 – Wildling Drinks

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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