A recent graduate who wants to launch an app to help young people find flat mates, a 55-year-old lady who dreams of opening a training school for dogs, a chef with a vision of opening a chain of fish restaurants along the south coast…
What links these apparently unrelated people? They have all applied to the Times of Tunbridge Wells Investment Fund, a £5 million Dragon’s Den-style investment fund – the biggest fund of its kind in the South East. Launched alongside its new weekly newspaper, the Times of Tunbridge Wells, the Dragon’s Den-style fund is designed to help limited companies, from start-ups looking for seed capital to businesses needing cash to expand.
The fund has received an enthusiastic reception from the local business community. Jo James, Chief Executive of Invicta Chamber of Commerce, said: “With access to traditional sources of finance still being problematic for many businesses, this initiative is welcomed as it will give the opportunity to further develop local business, creating local prosperity and employment opportunities. This scheme is not just about the finance, it recognises the importance of getting it right advice and support to ensure business growth.”
Alison Parmar, Development Manager at the Federation of Small Businesses says: “The Times of Tunbridge Wells Investment Fund is a great opportunity for small businesses and we would encourage them to consider applying. We often hear that a lack of funds holds small businesses back from the next step towards growth such as refurbishing a premises, taking on more staff or launching a new product. This investment fund is a clear example of larger firms helping smaller companies and encouraging a more entrepreneurial culture; something the FSB supports.”
Greg Clark MP, Minister for Universities, Science and Cities, sees the fund as instrumental in securing the region’s future prosperity. He said: “For our area to continue to be prosperous requires our businesses to be successful – new start-ups to be created and established businesses to grow. An investment fund that provides extra support is to be warmly welcomed and I look forward to seeing the benefits in action.”
Would-be entrepreneurs need to send a full business plan in writing, together with a covering letter. Suitable candidates will be invited to pitch their idea to a group of High Net Worth businesspeople. Just as in the hit BBC business show Dragon’s Den, investors can either declare themselves ‘out’ or offer funds in return for an equity stake in the applicant’s business, although the investors reserve the right to use other financial structures.
How to apply
Those interested in applying for funds should send their full business plan together with a covering letter about themselves and their company to:
Times of Tunbridge Wells Investment Fund
16 Lonsdale Gardens
Kent TN1 1NU
Closing date is July 1, 2015. All business plans will be received and viewed in strictest confidence.