October 2, 2023


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How This Entrepreneur Succeeded In The Grant Funding Stakes

5 min read

Enterprise grants are a superb approach for startups and small companies to safe much-needed funding. They’re supplied by governments and personal organizations, however securing the capital is difficult. Utility processes are complicated; some funders set strict phrases and circumstances round how the cash can be utilized, and the effort and time to use for them may be demanding.

Jeroo Doodhmal based her U.Okay.-based kids’s shoe enterprise, Pip & Henry, in 2020. Pushed by a ardour for the atmosphere, the footwear are responsibly produced and produced from sustainable supplies reminiscent of natural cotton, pineapple leaf fiber and recycled rubber.

Like many entrepreneurs, she fully self-funded the startup. Nonetheless, within the final couple of years, alongside enterprise loans and fairness funding, she has secured greater than £350,000 in grant funding from organizations reminiscent of Innovate UK, eBay Round Style Fund, John Lewis Round Future Fund, and LSE Generate. Right here she shares her secrets and techniques of success within the grant funding stakes.

Alison Coleman: What’s one of the simplest ways to trace which enterprise grants can be found?

Jeroo Doodhmal: A number of grants can be found to small companies, every with completely different standards associated to a selected enterprise downside, sector or location, in addition to the dimensions or maturity of the corporate. It’s a must to do the legwork your self, for instance, connecting with people who work at funding companies on LinkedIn and subscribing to newsletters from trade our bodies and grant writing consultancies to get notifications concerning the bigger grants from our bodies reminiscent of Innovate UK. Establishing Google Alerts for related matters retains you up to date in real-time. The place potential, it’s additionally value testing the directories of present and upcoming grants from funding organizations.

Coleman: What was your first grant funding success, who was it from, and what did you employ it for?

Doodhmal: Early in our startup journey, we gained a couple of small grants, between £5,000 and £10,000, from MSDUK and LSE Generate. Whereas I used to be bootstrapping the enterprise, this helped to fund the event and design of our product vary and the manufacture of our first few prototypes to check and mushy launch with customers.

Some grants provide a variety so that you can select from, for instance, between £150,000 and £500,000. It is tempting to go excessive, however be real looking about your wants, given your corporation’s stage and plans. You may be requested to supply detailed forecasts and breakdowns of how you propose to make use of the funds and what milestones you hope to realize every quarter. Put together accordingly. Be genuine to your self and your startup targets.

Coleman: Final 12 months, you gained the John Lewis Circular Future Fund award, which granted you £250,000 in grant funding. How difficult was that course of, and what did you employ the cash for?

Doodhmal: It was a reasonably prolonged course of. I needed to submit a written proposal outlining what I needed the funding for, together with video explainers. Shortlisted candidates had been requested to supply additional data, together with detailed funds forecasts, timelines, threat mitigation plans and many others. Lastly, we had been invited into the John Lewis places of work to current in entrance of a panel of specialists, some from inside John Lewis and others working within the subject of sustainability. From there, the winners had been chosen.

We’re designing footwear that may disassemble extra cleanly and develop with a toddler’s foot. This reduces the frequency with which children’ footwear must be sized up and permits for true end-of-life circularity. This grant helped kick-start that R&D journey, enabling us to work with specialist labs, designers, supplies specialists and producers to develop these much-needed options, one thing that startups of our measurement could not fund themselves.

Coleman: How a lot funding have you ever had in whole, and the way a lot affect has it had on your corporation – what has it enabled you to do?

Doodhmal: We have gained nearly £400,000 in grant funding, and round 90% of it has been invested in our R&D work. Whereas we’re nonetheless a distance away from releasing the outputs of this, we have made important progress and really feel assured of making a genuinely game-changing resolution for the youngsters’s footwear market that can have a long-lasting affect on decreasing the quantity of waste generated by the footwear trade.

Coleman: What have been probably the most important classes discovered in changing into profitable at securing grant funding?

Doodhmal: Since profitable the John Lewis Round Future Fund, we have gained a number of different important grant awards, together with from Innovate UK, eBay Round Style Innovators Fund and many others., and there are 4 important learnings:

  • Successful grant funding isn’t simple. We had been considered one of 4 winners of the John Lewis grant out of round 250 candidates. The percentages are sometimes considerably decrease with a few of the common Innovate UK grants. However do not surrender! I made three unsuccessful purposes to Innovate UK earlier than I used to be profitable on my fourth, so hearken to the suggestions that you just get, iterate your solutions and apply once more. In different phrases, continue to learn.
  • Put aside an affordable period of time to write down your software. Every fund will emphasize completely different nuances of your corporation, i.e., commercials, your R&D journey, ethos and mission. Learn by way of the targets and standards fastidiously and straight reply questions round these, at all times offering information and stats to again up your assertions and claims. And by no means ‘copy and paste’ solutions between completely different software varieties. Be clear about your and your workforce’s expertise and achievements. Leverage social proof; what different awards have you ever gained? What do your prospects or trade specialists say about your corporation? If there may be an choice to submit a video, do it.
  • You may be tempted to get a grant author to assist with a few of the greater awards. Whereas they’re nice for advising on codecs and necessities, which may be useful, should you’re new to grant writing, take the time to write down the appliance your self. Nobody can clarify your corporation or convey your ardour higher than you.

Coleman: In search of grant funding is difficult. What’s your recommendation to different founders simply beginning on their business trip?

Doodhmal: Making use of for grant funding can typically really feel like a darkish artwork. It is exhausting to find what’s on the market, learn by way of the eligibility standards, after which undergo the laborious means of making use of with low odds of success. As a result of the day-to-day working of your corporation may be so all-consuming, it’s simple to be delay from investigating the house. I’d advise figuring out the area of interest the place funding will affect your corporation most and specializing in discovering and making use of for the awards most related to these targets.

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