Case Studies

If you are unsure whether the Seedbed Accelerator Programme could help your social venture, read on to discover how we have helped others to grow and thrive. The social ventures in our case studies have graduated from the Seedbed programme.

Contact us to find out more about the Seedbed Accelerator Programme.

Family Advice Support Team (FAST) CIC – James Highet, Managing Director

Background
Family Advice Support Team (FAST) CIC is a social venture that offers bespoke support to meet families’ needs. We are three professionals with years of experience working in children’s services who look to share their skills in managing family challenges including behaviour support, routines, respite and more.
We spent six years working within the constraints of the Local Authority and so we wanted to start our own service without the constraints of government structure to work flexibly with families and partners.

Why did you join Seedbed?
I wanted to draw upon the skills and experiences of people who had made their social venture a success. Seedbed enables both facilitators and delegates to socialise together throughout the programme.

How has Seedbed helped your venture?
Seedbed has helped me to gain the confidence I needed in running a business. However, more importantly, it has provided tools to help measure that I’m on the right track and that will support my decisions going forward. We would certainly recommend Seedbed to others in the future.

What are your next steps?
We have seen the demand for our services increase exponentially since we started. To maintain our high level of service for families, we need to recruit more staff to help us manage the current rate of referrals and we’re also looking to expand into other areas of the county.
We are currently in the final stages of completing a lease on new, larger premises, where we intend to provide much needed support to community.

Would you recommend Seedbed to other ventures?
Yes, we would recommend Seedbed to other ventures.

Dontsendmeacard.com – Alex Furness

Background
Dontsendmeacard.com allows people to send an e-card on special occasions and donate the cost of sending the card to a cause that they care about. We invited charity partners on-board, from whom users can donate to directly via the website. The core of our concept is to make better use of the millions of pounds that are spent on greeting cards annually.

Why did you join Seedbed?
The reason behind joining Seedbed was to accelerate the business at a faster rate than we could do alone. There are a number of paths that can be taken and having this kind of support helps clarify which routes will be beneficial. It’s also a great opportunity to meet with other businesses who have been or are currently in the same position.

How has Seedbed helped your venture?
Seedbed has helped us to present and discuss what we are working on behind the scenes with likeminded businesses. This has helped in terms of feedback but also to have a range of input on how to further progress the venture. As an example, we are now looking for corporate partners, as it was established that large companies could utilise our system for an employee engagement initiative, which came about through Seedbed coaching and workshops.

What are your next steps?
We are about to launch our third iteration of the website in the run up to Christmas. The next steps will involve offering our e-card service alongside our charity partners to invite their supporters to send out Christmas e-cards, so they can give to a cause they care about.
The focus will be on the lead up to Christmas and then we are planning to offer a solution for other occasions in 2016. Hopefully this will lead to a ‘viral engine of growth’ – asking senders of our e-cards to ask their friends to do the same, creating a follow-on effect.

Would you recommend Seedbed to other ventures?
Yes I would, especially if you may struggle to commit time to other accelerator programmes. The schedule fits in with operating a business and they are a pleasure to work with.

Plymouth Learning Partnership

Background
The Plymouth Learning Partnership (formerly Plymouth Association of Primary Head Teachers (PAPH), after being in existence for 15 years, was at an exciting point in its development in 2012. Having formalised its legal status and becoming a Co-operative CIC in 2011, it is now well placed to take advantage of its social enterprise status and make the most of the opportunities through changes to education and the funding that can be accessed through new channels.
Our aim is to protect education budgets by ensuring best value for money, whilst using the profits we generate for the purposes of education. Our vision is that we will help to achieve the best possible education for children by ensuring that the needs and entitlements of those children are secured.

Why did you join Seedbed?
We have grown significantly since 2012, both in terms of staff and turnover. We decided to join the Seedbed programme to ensure that our organisation is fit for purpose and ready to take on whatever the future holds.

How has Seedbed helped your venture?
Seedbed has enabled us to really look at what we are doing and how we work. It is also a great opportunity to learn from the experience of others.

What are your next steps?
The next steps are to update the business plan and associated budgets, ensuring the organisation positions itself for future success.

Would you recommend Seedbed to other ventures?
I would have no hesitation in recommending any organisations to join the Seedbed programme as any quality time spent is bound to deliver rewards.

Eat That Frog CIC

Background
Eat That Frog is about motivation. In the words of Mark Twain, “Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day” – apply this to life and consider all those hard tasks as frogs, once completed or “eaten” then everything else seems easy. Eat That Frog work with people of all ages facing barriers in their life, enabling them to overcome or cope with these. At the heart of their work is a belief in a good work ethic, for which they focus their effort in helping people to gain and sustain paid employment.

Why did you join Seedbed?
In order to further our social venture, we were looking for a programme that offered a mix of support and loans to help us progress. We were looking for a programme that would help us to focus our business plan and set a direction in which to take our social venture forward. We were also incredibly interested in finding out about different funding options.

How has Seedbed helped your venture?
Seedbed has helped us to set out exactly what we needed to do to grow and achieve our goals. The support programme helped us to realise our unique selling points which in turned helped us to create a business proposal to grow our venture.
Since then, we’ve grown rapidly with the launch of a new ethical recruitment agency and have opened four new centres and recruited 12 new members of staff.

What are your next steps?
Next steps for Eat That Frog is to continue our relationship with Seedbed and their partner, SWIG. Hopefully we’ll apply for Seedbed again in regards to other aspects of our social venture such as education.

What is your advice to ventures looking to join the Seedbed programme?
It’s a great opportunity for social ventures. If you used everything available from Seedbed, it will help you with important parts of your business.

Unique Voice CIC

Background
Unique Voice CIC is a growing social venture who use drama and the arts as a medium to make a positive social impact. To do this, they create initiatives that enable people to learn, develop and grow in all aspects of their educational and emotional development whether that is through classroom-based learning or community campaigns.
To date, Unique Voice CIC has helped over 50,000 young people across schools and communities.

Why did you join Seedbed?
We chose to apply to support our growth and development. We believed it was time to cultivate our business and replicate our success in other geographical areas. Seedbed would help us to consolidate our business, working towards a robust infrastructure that would support our growth.

How has Seedbed helped your venture?
Seedbed has helped to unlock a gateway for us to achieve our expansion and plans for growth. It’s also provided the necessary funds to grow our company alongside excellent business support and advice throughout our plans to expand.
The loan from Seedbed means that we can grow and expand, working towards our goal of helping 100,000 young people in the area over the next three years, which is a challenging yet rewarding path.

What are your next steps?
Our next step is to expand our workforce to support our plans for expansion, solidify our business plan and support our growth.

What is your advice to ventures looking to join the Seedbed programme?
No one knows your business better than you, however, advice and support from those dedicated to enhancing social ventures will only make your business stronger and more prepared for future growth.

Grow Bristol

Background
Grow Bristol CIC is a new urban farming venture developing and demonstrating innovative and sustainable ways of growing food in the city for the benefit of all its inhabitants and the wider world. They are bringing together techniques of vertical farming, controlled-environment agriculture and aquaponics to realise integrated vegetable and fish production in city spaces not normally suited to agriculture.

Why did you join Seedbed?
We had been involved previously in the School of Social Entrepreneurs with a start-up level programme. However, we need to scale up and grow our business. Seedbed looked like a good opportunity to take on our first loan finance.

How has Seedbed helped your venture?
We felt it was important to have a loan aspect alongside support. The workshops were a huge benefit and the business coach helped us to get a business plan set up before we applied for a loan. The time spent creating a business plan proved invaluable. We certainly felt more secure and comfortable knowing there was a plan in place.

What are your next steps?
The loan aspect of the Seedbed programme helped us to complete our capital investment. Since Seedbed, we’ve been trading with positive results and plan to successfully scale up our business over the next few months. We are also striving to finish our growing system to get into a wider market.

What is your advice to ventures looking to join the Seedbed programme?
Social ventures looking to join Seedbed should assess if they are ready for the loan process. The great thing is that you know before applying through the application process that you’re either ready for the programme or you need to wait. The great thing is that there is no commitment. They help as much as you need.



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