Budding entrepreneur Emmanuel Ajadi, received a £6k scholarship to study a degree in international business at the University of Birmingham, off the back of his business idea, Tie Doctor. His idea was to sell stylish and affordable neckwear online and on market stalls located near places of significant tourist footfall, such as London tube stations. Once established his plan was to specialise in UK made items, a strong USP for the tourist market. To take his business beyond a trial stage however, Emmanuel needed money for stock and marketing. Yet, without a trading history or security, mainstream lenders could not help. Luckily, he discovered Foundation East via a Google search.
“Emmanuel had started his business on a trial basis at Liverpool Street, thanks to the scholarship he’d received and support from Birmingham University. He had a strong business plan yet needed £15k for marketing and stock to take the business beyond its trial stage. He had developed a strong supply chain in China, which he visited via a Department for International Trade initiative and showed an excellent attitude and work ethic. We partnered with The Start Up Loans Company to facilitate a loan totalling his £15k requirement. I was, and remain, very confident that Tie Doctor will succeed,” states Peter Davis, Foundation East senior business loans manager.
“It was great working with Foundation East. Obtaining the finance was fairly simple and I really appreciated the help and the one-to-one nature of the interview process. It took about two months from start to getting the funds and included sending over insurance forms and guarantor information,” advises Emmanuel.
“Foundation East advised caution with our financial projections as business can be volatile. This was wise as results are not always as good as we expect, for various reasons, many of which Foundation East’s advisors have had experience of,” he continues.
Foundation East’s help came just in time to save and extend one job from part to full time (Emmanuel had cut the hours of the Liverpool Street stall manager who had helped him set up his trial) and over time has enabled Emmanuel to pay himself a fair salary. Current projections suggest the business will be able to take on another employee soon too.
“Foundation East’s funding has meant we can source more UK made products, meaning we are making a small economic contribution to the manufacturing industry here . They believed in us as much as we did ourselves. They helped us to grow, to strengthen our potential and do things a lot quicker: improving our website; bringing in new products and doing more exhibitions. We’ve saved jobs and we’ve improved our brand and quality,” advises Emmanuel.
“It looks likely that we can bring in a new employee to help us with sales and design ideas for Christmas shows. I’m also considering recruiting online advertising expertise. Next steps include a few pop-up shops in tube stations for 1 week - 3 months to test the market. We believe this strategy will work because Tie Rack used to sell mainly from train stations.
“This is all possible thanks to the loan and on-going mentoring from Foundation East, which has been exceptional and unparalleled,” concludes Emmanuel.