Tom started the business with his lifelong friend Nick, whilst at university. Kigu imports and sells ‘animal onesies’ and after an initial success on campus, Tom & Nick applied to Bright Ideas Trust for help with really getting the business set up and organised. A small equity investment was made in 2010, with a dedicated mentor and lots of training and support. The equity shares that Bright Ideas Trust purchased has meant that we have always kept a protective eye on and nurturing approach to Kigu. Our investment has been extremely worthwhile and we share with some pride the success of this SMARTA 100 winner.
Running a business isn’t an easy option. We don’t give grants. We will support hard work and enthusiasm with a helping hand, a mentor and advisor, plenty of patience and an affordable loan at the right trime. Equity Investments mean we buy some shares in the business. We only buy a small percentage and we reinvest any dividend produced. Our reward, or return on investment, will come when your business eventually either sells to a bigger investor, or if you decide to ‘buy back’ the shareholding when you can afford to. The valuation will be based on growth, performance and profitability etc and may require an independent valuation.
WHITE – KNOT
Sarah decided to start her wedding stationery design and supply business after working for a few years in the graphic design industry. She turned a hobby, something she used to enjoy doing for friends, into a proper business. With Bright Ideas Trust training and advice, plus a small loan, she is now really busy! She regularly attends wedding fairs and has an impressive order book for the season ahead. From time to time, Sarah also does some creative work for the charity, designing fundraising literature and vouchers for other Bright Ideas Trust ‘Family of Businesses’
Rent-a-Cleaner limited was formed in early 2008 and is run by Shawn Brown to provide cleaning services in both domestic and commercial markets.
Rent-a-Cleaner focuses on four London boroughs (Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham and Wandsworth) and offers a range of cleaning services including domestic and commercial cleaning and fleet car washing services. It provides services to both Domestic Clients – homeowners, tenants – and Commercial Clients – embassies, offices, estate Agencies, schools, etc.
Bright Ideas Trust supported Rent-a-Cleaner with funding of £7,000. This came directly from the Accenture donation to Bright Ideas Trust and is being used by Rent-a-Cleaner to acquire a company vehicle, cleaning equipment, consumables and for marketing.
Shawn Brown was born, grew up and lives in London. He left school at 16 in 2001 and began work in the retail management working firstly for Selfridges as a sales advisor and then Harvey Nichols as a sales manager in their formal menswear department. However, it was when he changed career to the property lettings business that he developed the idea for his own business.
Whilst working for two London based property lettings companies during 2007/08 Shawn saw the opportunities for cleaning services in this sector. He says, “Tenants were always asking me where they could get reliable cleaners once they moved in, particularly if they were not from the area. Also, as agents we were continuously looking for professional and good quality cleaning services between lettings and during the void periods and we had a fleet of cars which were cleaned every few days.”
During 2008, Shawn decided to leave his position and become an entrepreneur. When we first met him, he had just completed an intensive 6-week industrial cleaning course and qualification and was clearly determined to learn as much as he could about the industry in which he had chosen to work.
Since that time, he has undertaken extensive on the job work experience with other cleaning providers and has built a sales pipeline of prospective domestic and commercial clients. He said “I did about as much as I could to get my business started by doing my research, learning on the job and taking a course, but ultimately realised that the two things I really needed someone else to provide was some expert business guidance and the finance required to buy the essential equipment I needed.”
Why Bright Ideas Trust supports Rent-a-Cleaner?
Bright Ideas Trust chose to support Rent-a-Cleaner because not only does it offer the opportunity for us to help to get a determined individual back into gainful employment through the creation of their own company but also expects to initially employ another 2-3 people.
Shawn says, “I believe having your own business enables one to have more choice and flexibility in life. I want to be a success; I have always believed with hard work, ambition and dedication I can achieve ‘anything’ in life. I also want to provide my daughter and family with a better lifestyle.”
“I believe that we will be successful because we will promote rent-a-cleaner as a professional, customer friendly business with fully insured and CRB/police checked staff offering a high quality service at affordable prices.”
Cullens Clearances LTD
Derrick Hunt left school and home at the age of 16. He wanted to join the army but failed on some minor medical grounds, so he took various jobs, but always something went wrong and after his third redundancy, he decided to try running his own business. He had worked until the third redundancy with a house clearance firm, so he decided to stick with what he knew about ( Great tip!) and came to Bright Ideas Trust to see if we would fund a van. We taught him how to write a proper business plan and advised against buying a cheap second hand van, but instead to hire a new – and reliable – one, until such time as he’d prooved there was enough work for him in his local area. After a few months, business steadily took off and we agreed a more substantial loan, to buy a better, more reliable van, which won’t let him down and which he can comfortably afford. Derrick now employs his dad, cousin and brother part time! Derrick’s mentor knows the industry and personally looked for the right vehicle and negotiated extra features including sigh-writing. Derrick recently spoke of his experience at a conference in Birmingham, in support of the help and encouragement he has recieved from Bright Ideas Trust – and how it has literally changed his life. He is determined to succeed and can never imagine working for anyone else but himself, again.