When I registered our interest to hear more on the new Virgin StartUp webpage I honestly didn’t think it would amount to anything. It was March 2014 and I’d been running Dark Matters for almost a year alongside my part-time cafe job, where everything I made on top of what was needed to basically stay functioning was ploughed back into the business (including tips!).
The idea of getting a Start Up loan seemed terrifying, and a huge commitment, so when I got a call the next day from Alyson over at Business West (a delivery partner for VSU) I was fairly overwhelmed. Luckily she was well versed in talking to stressed out start-ups, and in the 20 minutes or so that we chatted I became more and more aware that this was exactly the opportunity we needed in order to reach the next step in our business.
I was paired up with an amazing mentor (Hi Sam!) who held my hand through writing an absolutely kick-ass Business Plan and we had the loan in our bank account within three weeks. Bonkers.
Obviously, the money was a HUGE boost to the business.
We were able to book large (and costly) Summer events, buy more much needed kitchen equipment, finish driving lessons (then pass my test!) and buy our first Brownie Mobile! When I first sent off an email to Virgin StartUp I had been focused on what the loan could do for my business, I hadn’t factored in the amount of support and mentoring (Hi Matt!) VSU would continually offer over the two years after receiving our loan.
From paying for our pitch at Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival, inviting us to Virgin HQ to flog our brownies to their staff at Christmas, having us cater their incredible Women In Business events and featuring us numerous times on their blog, they’ve continued to go above and beyond for us, and I couldn’t be happier that we took that step two years ago!
The next few blog entries will be taken directly from the Virgin StartUp website, where they’ve either featured us or had me write content to help other start-ups who are on a similar path, I thought it would be good to have them here as well and hopefully some of you will find them interesting too!