How securing a grant from our local council provided us with finance, mentoring and press coverage
Pure Pet Food founder Matthew Cockroft reveals how access to a £1,500 grant enabled him and his co-founder to launch their organic pet food product
Name: Matthew Cockroft
Company: Pure Pet Food
Started in: 2012
Company description: Pure makes natural, human quality pet food. Pure food is produced using a gentle process called dehydration, meaning we avoid the harsh cooking procedures involved in making the wet and dry dog foods currently available.
Describe your start-up barrier:
Starting Pure was a huge challenge. Taking the business from an idea to a market-ready product had large cost implications. Finding access to finance was one of the biggest hurdles we had to overcome.
What were the practical steps you took to overcome it?
We used every resource available to fund the initial expense of research and development that was required to make our idea a reality. A lot of the funding for Pure has come from savings from our previous business, but we were also lucky enough to receive a grant from our local council Calderdale.
We initially became aware that there were funds available for start-ups from reading an article on the Startups website. We then found the relevant contact at our local council and arranged a meeting. After speaking to our local enterprise officer Eric Binns we found out that we would be eligible for a £500 grant.
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Once we’d submitted our business plan and explained our strategy we were awarded the initial £500 to help fund our business but were also really pleased to be informed that as we had an innovative product that had market potential we could go for the European growth grant which was a further £1000.
We were delighted to discover that the turnaround was very quick and we received the money around four weeks after applying. It was explained that around 70% of applicants are rejected, so make sure you have a clear concise business plan and that you can demonstrate the USP and market potential of your product.
What was the outcome?
The council’s support and funding has been incredibly helpful, not just from a financial point of view, but also in providing us with guidance and advice as we brought Pure to market.
Their partnerships with the top business schools at local universities, as well as the European Union development fund, have enabled us to receive mentoring and advice throughout our initial 12 months. As a result, we’ve had a really successful first year, even entering a number of awards which in turn has led to much-welcomed press coverage.
I would definitely recommend anyone starting up a new business to do the same, as there is a lot more help out there than I think people are aware of. Through the additional funding received we were able to finance the final steps of getting the business off the ground, including putting our e-commerce platform in place.
We have since been lucky enough to establish some great partnerships with our suppliers and manufacturers, who believed in the project so much that once we became regulated they gave us credit terms immediately. I think this has given Pure a great base to sustainably grow the business and take it to where we imagined it could be when it was just an initial idea.
What three key questions should other companies ask themselves before considering applying for a grant?
- Is your product or idea truly innovative; does it solve a real problem that the current options out there simply do not?
- Can your product deliver a solution without further cost to the consumer?
- Can your product solve the current issues facing consumers without further inconvenience? If you can truly say yes to those three questions, then I believe the sky is the limit!
What one piece of advice do you think they should take on board?
Do your market research and be sure you are in business for the right reasons. You have to want to do it for more than just financial gain. Find something you’re passionate about and don’t be afraid to give it a go!
Is there anything you would do differently?
I think we all make mistakes; the key is to ensure you never make the same mistake twice!