Start and Grow Enterprise has been helping businesses across Gloucestershire since 2017, offering support through training, networking, events, courses and resources – all free of charge thanks to funding from the European Regional Development Fund, the Government and the University of Gloucestershire.
Here, SoGlos picks out a selection of entrepreneurs who plugged into the help available through the Start and Grow Enterprise team to succeed.
Working from home is the new normal for many, but for those looking for a more hybrid working lifestyle The Workplace in Cheltenham, offers everything needed for a comfortable, task-focused experience. All you need to do is book a desk and The Workspace is yours, complete with free coffee; private and communal desk spaces; and a super-fast Wi-Fi connection.
The Regent Street venue believes in wellbeing as well as productivity and has invested in the right chairs and computer monitors to create an office with the feeling of space and comfort to help combat typical office fatigue. The reaction of one recent group typical of many; there for just the day initially, by the time they left they had booked permanent desks for the foreseeable.
QWERTY Beer Box
Craft beer curators, QWERTY Beer Box, bring regional breweries to customer's doorsteps. Based near Painswick in the Cotswolds, its hampers come with personalised tasting notes, brewery introductions and are delivered for free.
Co-founder Quinn Leatherbarrow-Stokes found Start and Grow through The Growth Hub at Stroud Library. He said: 'It helped us with everything from advice with finance and marketing, to introducing us to other start-ups. This led us to us meeting and using a local designer when launching the product that has become our best-seller.'
The Village Cakery
Started by passionate baker, Noushien Khazeni-Rad, runs The Village Cakery, Brookfield Road, Churchdown, where she creates delicious delicacies for every occasion, such as weddings, birthdays and christenings.
By taking part in free business coaching offered by Start and Grow, Khazeni-Rad was able to improve her marketing to reach new clients and customers and ultimately increase her sales enough to afford to self-fund a full shop refurbishment and expand her business in only her third year of trading.
Parallel Precision Limited
Parallel Precision Limited is a CNC machining subcontractor with clients across the UK. Headquartered in Lydney in the Forest of Dean, the engineering firm serves industries including, lighting, robotics and telecoms.
Founder Elliott Staton, a former University of Gloucestershire engineering student and one-time Delphi apprentice, said: 'Start and Grow helped us to identify our USP in a very competitive market and provided two £1,000 grants that we put towards equipment that increased our machining capabilities.'
Cocolina Coffee Ltd
With its own speciality brand of organic coffee beans served in eco-friendly packaging, Cocolina Coffee is sold out of its own picturesque coffee cart located on Bath Road, Cheltenham. Brother and sister, Megan and Jed, have gone from strength to strength since collaborating with Start and Grow.
Open weekly from Tuesday through to Saturday, Cocolina Coffee puts sustainability at the top of its list of priorities by using eco-friendly packaging and sourcing its milk from local organic dairy suppliers.
Offering packages of financial advice to guide businesses to success, Forest of Dean-based Current Accountancy delivers solutions to a variety of hurdles being faced by customers and enables simple wins which amount to increasing profits and decreasing expenses.
After winning three free hours of coaching from Start and Grow, founder Hannah Winman said the firm had benefitted hugely from the variety of courses available and said the programme 'really opened my eyes to how many 'hats' you need to wear when you start your own business.'
Pilates Guy offers in-person and online Pilates classes suitable for all abilities. Specialising in mat Pilates (training that can be done on a mat), the sessions focus on targeted pain areas, improving sports performance and enhancing wellbeing.
'Start and Grow was instrumental in my business success,' said founder Russ Jones-Walker, who is based in Hucclecote. 'The programme provided me with a solid plan to build on. Without it, I don't think I would have been as successful as quickly.' It also helped Jones-Walker obtain a digital bounce-back grant following the COVID-19 lockdowns, which has been 'a great help in developing online membership and coaching programmes'.
Based on London Road, Gloucester, Studio Sew.n offers product development expertise, from concept right up until production. It can produce branded products and apparel with no minimum order requirement.
After being made redundant when the pandemic hit, founder Austin Perry was successful in applying for funding from Start and Grow, which helped him purchase new equipment to help move Studio Sew.n online and offer customisable elements to its products. Perry said: 'Start and Grow helped me change my outlook on being made redundant and completely changed my life!'
Conquering Steps provides coaching for businesses in need of advice on performance, profitability and productivity – without compromising on mental and physical well-being.
Founder, Karen Taylor, has been working with her expansive clientele for over 30 years. After the impact of COVID she decided to invest in her own self-development and 'fell in love with human psychology, behaviour design and everything that goes into creating habits that shape our days, which can be what literally makes the difference in what we do or don't achieve'.
Artist, Tara Downs founded the Miniature Museum project alongside Bart Sabel. The collaboration merges art with museum heritage, with emphasis on creating engaging, interactive installations to keep audiences intrigued and entertained. The pair design work for clients ' on any scale – from miniature cabinets of curiosities to large scale sculpture for festivals and public events'.
Downs said: 'Start and Grow are incredibly supportive, friendly and help to make new steps to growth accessible through an upbeat and encouraging approach. The online training sessions gave invaluable insight into my business needs and provided some really useful business knowledge and tools.'
Sear Media Group
Putting content at the forefront of their business model, Sear Media Group offer packages for businesses wanting to improve their social media strategy. Founded in a university bedroom, the business used Start and Grow to help turn his ideas into reality and catapult his Sear Media Group to the next level.
Sear gives businesses the content to post every day on social media platforms TikTok and Instagram with accompanying LinkedIn content 'written to convert your viewers into customers'. The firm will cater for start-ups to established companies, creating from 15 videos a month, 20 images and a LinkedIn post to four times that over the same period.
Founded by musician, Leo Saunders, tuneriver gives customers the chance to give the gift of music. Over 50 available artists on the platform will write and record an original song based on a brief assigned by the buyer that can then be downloaded and shared on social media.
Saunders, who was recommended the services of Start and Grow, said: 'It helped me start and grow my business over the past four years to the point where we have achieved TV news coverage and are rated as 'excellent' on Trustpilot.' He even returned to Start and Grow to help train other new businesses.
Let's Cook with Josie CIC
Teaching the importance of cooking from scratch, founder Josie Houghton brings Let's Cook with Josie CIC to community spaces across Gloucestershire. The cooking classes are aimed at children who are disadvantaged in some way in the hopes of getting them excited about eating healthy, homemade food!
Josie was awarded a £1,000 enterprise grant from Start and Grow Enterprise which enabled her to purchase more kitchen supplies and to secure a space for each child to have their own work station for classes. She said: 'I wouldn't have moved forward without the help of Start and Grow.'
For those wanting to make crafting their livelihoods, business coach Annie Gianini provides the help and advice to take a hobby to the next level.
A qualified coach who started her own craft kit business in 2015, Gianini holds a coaching and mentoring Level 5 qualification from the Institute of Leadership and Management, and a Level 3 Award in Education and Training, as well as bringing her years of experience to the table.
Buttons for Beans
Buttons for Beans was founded by an eco-conscious mum with the vision to create sustainable children's clothing ranging from newborn up to age seven, with vintage styles made to order.
Catherine Wainwright's business is now based in Bourton-on-the-Water, as well as trading through its website, and makes items ranging from baby rompers and classic button front dungarees, to woollen coats, quilted jackets and dresses.
The Forest Collective
The Forest Collective, is a candle making company with a twist. Cycling lover, Naomi Hands founded the business with a view to creating scents for outdoor enthusiasts - inspired by the historic Forest of Dean.
Hands was recommended the services of Start and Grow by a friend who had attended one of its seminars and after investigating further she said: 'It felt like I'd uncovered a treasure chest of help and support. The workshops enabled me to really focus on my business and dedicate time to it in a way I wouldn't have before.'
KOTOKOTO is the cooking class specialising in Japanese cuisine. Dreamed up by food-obsessed Yuri Lewis in Cheltenham, the classes are run in her own home kitchen to groups of two to four people.
Lewis said: 'Start and Grow helped me from the very start. Through the start-up event I learned how to make a business plan to achieve my goals and the growth event showed me my business's strengths and weaknesses and how to work on them in order to grow further.'
Jott Studio Limited
Creating sustainable, well-crafted furniture for offices and homes alike, Jott Studio Limited oversee every stage of the making of its products. All the way from sourcing ethical materials to recycling after a lifetime of use.
Partner and founder of the Staunton-based business, Rich Jones, said: 'Since receiving the help and guidance from Start and Grow, we've witnessed a noticeable upturn in orders and our furniture has made its home within some really prestigious locations.'