*spoiler alert* for those of you who will be interrupted halfway through by a hungry tiny human...I have funding!
Let’s be really honest, one of the biggest challenges when starting a business is money. When I rocked up to my local start-up advisory service at the start of this journey I had with me a list of barriers. Heading up that list? Money (or lack of it).
A lot of my time till now has been taken up with grant applications. You might wonder how on earth they are so time consuming and to be honest, the forms aren’t particularly daunting - well not the ones I’ve filled out anyway. The hard part is costing things and anticipating all the ways costs may change throughout the process. For example I had to find potential fabric suppliers (not as easy as it sounds...A LOT of suppliers don’t even respond to enquiries), get quotes and try to work out how much material might be needed for prototyping, without even knowing how many versions might be made. It’s basically guesstimating as accurately as you can!
Then there’s the rejection.
“Sorry, we don’t fund X”
“You can reapply in three months”
“You don’t have the required experience for us consider funding your project”
So you have to go away, trawl back through everything, take the comments on board and try again.
Luckily one of the places I approached for funding was the Arts University Bournemouth (AUB), who are delivering a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to support Dorset small businesses and start-ups. I could give you the brochure style spiel - a centre of creative excellence, yada yada...but what really matters here are the people, because that’s what actually makes an organisation. Initially it took a few attempts to get my voice heard as they get a lot of requests for support (persistence is your best friend when starting up...it shows you are serious), but once a conversation had started, the team at AUB were frankly amazing and it is with their guidance and support that I get to announce I HAVE FUNDING (sorry for shouting, just a tad excited).
The funding is specifically for the prototyping and testing of the Boobin’ Bras and breast pads, without which this whole gig is just me sharing a load of pictures of my tatas on social media and doing a lot of talking, so it’s a massive deal.
As part of working with AUB, I attended their START IT workshop, you may remember my little post on social a while back? The expertise in that place is incredible and to get a little piece of it for free, just for having an idea and turning up, well that is pretty special. It genuinely made me want to go back to university.
I think for the lovely uni folks, it also showed them I’m serious, even if I do have a slightly informal email style and a tendency to overshare. If you ever decide to go into business I would definitely recommend meeting as many people face to face as you can - your passion and knowledge about what you’re doing just doesn’t come across the same over the phone or email.
One workshop, one informal coffee (or pink lemonade on my part) with my namesake and blimmin’ lovely human, Lucy, and a bit of email ping pong later and here we are! After previous rejections I really had no expectations, but that kind of makes this all the sweeter.
I may or may not (I definitely have) a couple of other sizable updates coming soon. If you fancy hearing them, and future boob shattering news, first, sign up here.
If you’re a fellow Dorset based start-up, do check out the epic support AUB have on offer here.