Finding Funding

So you’re getting bored of working in your bedroom, tapping away at your laptop and thinking to yourself, “If only I could employ someone to do these tasks for me, I could spend a lot more time focussing on building my idea.”

It’s a smart thought to have and it all seems great – all your problems will be solved and you suddenly feel an overwhelming sense to break out in joyous song (most likely the chorus of this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9gq-ANfjc0).

But there’s a catch. You’re comfortably making £15K by selling your super cool iPhone apps, but if you employ someone, you’ll have to make twice that amount to pay both of you.

You might not quite be able to do that just yet but you’re pretty sure that you’re going to be able to by the end of the financial year. The good news is that you’ll probably be able to get a bunch of funding for that – especially if it involves training someone to do it.

Show me the money!

Finding funding can be a really tricky business. It’s not all that hard to find someone offering funding of some kind, but the tough part is finding a fund that matches your business pitch.

For example, here’s one of the offers of funding from Finance Wales – one of the better known agencies in Wales. “Micro loans 5k – 25k loans. Repayment terms range from one to five years and can be used alongside funding secured from other investors.”

That might sound appealing to you – and it should, it’s a good fund – but if you read on, the eligibility requirements are sectors including energy and environment, electronics and engineering, ICT and life sciences and businesses employing up to 250 people with an annual turnover not exceeding €50 million. For most new businesses, this isn’t an easy task.

The offers of funding in Wales are phenomenal – it’s just that even if you Google for several hours a day, it’s pretty hard to find one that suits you.

We’ve picked a couple of funds that might interest you in building your startup.

Finance Wales

We’ll start off with some really big funds. As we’ve already mentioned, Finance Wales are one of the principal funders of business. The process is pretty standard: you find a fund you like and get in touch to start the dialogue.

The aforementioned micro loans option is probably the most attractive of their offers. Recently, they’ve given £20,000+ to an architects firm, a sign writer and the wonderful Halen Mon (sea salt company – http://www.halenmon.com/).

Cardiff Council

There’s also a lot of support given to businesses by Cardiff Council. Everything from loans to grants or even offers of space for startups are available.

The startup grant that the council offers is probably the best fund available in Wales right now. The grant is for anything between £500 and £5000 to help companies startup. You’ll need to have a project that’s twice as large as any amount that you ask for because the grant is only available for 30% of the project. But that’s totally achievable for a fund this size.

So, if you need to go on a marketing campaign to promote your innovative new creative  industries project, you can get £500 of the £1500 total cost of the project. That’s pretty good – especially if you’re going to get a lot of business from the project.

Another option from the council is the Capital Cardiff fund which is a big investment of up to £50k is available for companies that have a good capacity for growth. Pinning your business down with one of these funds would be a huge coup.

UK Steel Enterprise

If your company is not in the creative industries, you immediately open yourself up to huge bouts of funding from organisations like UK Steel Enterprise. Like Cardiff Council, the UK Steel Enterprise offers everything from grants to premises.

These funds can get really really big (up to £750K) but can also be quite small so there’s a pretty good scope for finding your footing if you’re a technology business.

Cardiff Credit Union

Here’s the funding source that time forgot. No body ever talks about Cardiff Credit Union when they’re trying to work out where to get funding from. A credit union, if you’re not familiar with it, is kind of a bank owned and operated by ‘the people’ (people like you and I). Members pay in money and it earns money – kind of like interest in a standard bank. However, they also offer really good rates on loans. For example, if you need to get 5000 flyers printed, that might cost you about £150. You could get that money from the credit union and repay it over a year. That breaks down to a payment of £3.25 weekly – very manageable.

They’ve even made a nice loan calculator so that you can weigh up your options:

http://www.cardiffcu.com/index.php?cid=2e19498e4c0c8724fffe2fa90ea854e4

Pulling it all together

Here we’ve done a quick summary of some of the funds available to startups in Cardiff. But we’ve also got a much bigger collection which you can browse on Google Docs by clicking here.

There’s going to be an entire session on finding funding at the Capital Cardiff conference at the end of this month. If you’re confused about it, come along and get some advice from the people who administer the funding – straight from the source!

To see that document, go HERE

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So come on, now that you know where to get funding, you can work towards hiring that super staff member to do half your work for you… and… you know… sing the chorus of this along with me.