Case Studies

The Accelerator Programme has already benefited dozens of businesses in Lincolnshire. Here are some shining examples of business owners who have made a commitment to the success of their businesses by participating on previous Accelerators.

Case Study 1

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Chris Wilson

Scape360

Scape360 helps its clients to show off the full potential of their physical spaces and places using a powerful all-in-one 3D platform.

Founders Chris Wilson Gina Baxter were determined to bring this new technology to UK shores.  3D virtual tours are a big hit in the US, but the UK has only recently adopted this new way of showcasing a venue. When embarking on the programme, Scape360 knew that educating UK business owners about this technology would play a significant factor in helping them achieve success. They just needed advice on how to do it.

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The challenge

Looking for a differentiator 

As a business, you can’t be all things to all people. Yet this was something that Scape360 was trying to achieve when it first established its business. Director, Chris Wilson says, “we were trying to appeal to everyone and it wasn’t working. Our marketing efforts weren’t producing results and I knew we needed help in determining our niche.”

Scape360 found it hard to target its marketing because it hadn’t defined its audience. As an example, they were sending a lot of email marketing campaigns that weren’t producing results.

Not only that, Chris admits they were “just establishing the business and didn’t know where to start.” They were looking for advice from business owners with real-world experience and an unbiased perspective.

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Case Study 1

Chris Wilson

Scape360

Scape360 helps its clients to show off the full potential of their physical spaces and places using a powerful all-in-one 3D platform.

Founders Chris Wilson Gina Baxter were determined to bring this new technology to UK shores.  3D virtual tours are a big hit in the US, but the UK has only recently adopted this new way of showcasing a venue. When embarking on the programme, Scape360 knew that educating UK business owners about this technology would play a significant factor in helping them achieve success. They just needed advice on how to do it.

scape-360-dolls-house-footer

The challenge

Looking for a differentiator 

As a business, you can’t be all things to all people. Yet this was something that Scape360 was trying to achieve when it first established its business. Director, Chris Wilson says, “we were trying to appeal to everyone and it wasn’t working. Our marketing efforts weren’t producing results and I knew we needed help in determining our niche.”

Scape360 found it hard to target its marketing because it hadn’t defined its audience. As an example, they were sending a lot of email marketing campaigns that weren’t producing results.

Not only that, Chris admits they were “just establishing the business and didn’t know where to start.” They were looking for advice from business owners with real-world experience and an unbiased perspective.

The solution

Identifying the need to stop and refocus efforts

Since taking part in the productivity programme pilot, they’ve gained clarity on the types of businesses they’re targeting. The advice they received as part of the programme helped them drastically improve their marketing and educate their audience. And, as a result, Scape360 has doubled its turnover.

Chris says, “the programme made us realise the benefits of stopping to pause and refocus. Every quarter we schedule some time to take a step back and look at other niche areas we can target. This has completely overhauled our approach to marketing and our business strategy.”

With big plans for the future, Scape360 wants to continue building credibility within its industry.

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The Verdict

From the entrepreneur

Leaving a parting piece of advice, Chris says, “don’t be put off by the application process when applying for a place in an accelerator programme. Self-promotion doesn’t come naturally to most of us but persevere. By taking part, you can learn more in two weeks than you can in six months of running a business.”

Case Study 2

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Sophie Karaer

SOKA Studio

Based in Liverpool, SOKA Studio is an award-winning graphic design and website development agency. It specialises in creating highly effective, idea-led branding, websites and promotional materials for SMEs.

After graduating with a first-class degree in Graphic Design and Advertising, and working in the industry for 5 years, Sophie launched SOKA. She says, "I believe in working with only the best individuals around, and I don't believe in being restricted by distance."

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The challenge

Making the cash flow

Forecasting. It's not the most stylish or engaging topic, but one that business owners have to grasp if they want their business to grow.

In 2019, SOKA Studio was ready to take on employees but struggled to map its financial growth. Founder and Creative Director, Sophie Karaer says, "I struggled with the aspect of forecasting. I needed advice on how much of a risk it would be to take on an employee. I needed help with the next stages of growth."

Sophie got her business to a certain point by using her initiative and working off her gut feeling. She decided she needed extra input if she wanted to go from a one-man-band to a prestigious agency.

Not only that but because Sophie had developed SOKA with no outside help, she felt as if she was "winging it". This made her anxious. She felt as if she was going through the motions with no goal or plan for the future.

The Solution

Gaining a grasp on the money side of things

By taking part in the accelerator programme in 2019, Sophie learned from other more established business owners. They helped her to nail down her thoughts, put a business plan in place, and understand the process of forecasting.

Since then, SOKA has taken on three full-time employees. Sophie says, "without taking those first steps and joining the programme, I wouldn't have expanded."

The pilot also helped Sophie understand the process of applying for business awards. This knowledge helped them secure the Micro Business of the Year award at the Lincolnshire Technology & Innovation Awards 2019.

SOKA now has clarity on where the business is heading and understands how to strategise. Sophie says, "the pilot has really helped me to cement my vision for SOKA."

Close up of couple searching online information about legal document details with laptop, family studying important contract terms and conditions typing filling internet application form on website
Sophie Karaer Head Shot

The Verdict

From the entrepreneur

When referring to the importance of spending time on your business instead of in it, Sophie says, "it's worth taking the time out of your business to pause and reflect on what you're doing because you get caught up in the running of it.

The programme helps you to do this and to take a look at your processes from an unbiased perspective."

Soka-logo (1)

Case Study 2

Sophie Karaer

SOKA Studio

Based in Liverpool, SOKA Studio is an award-winning graphic design and website development agency. It specialises in creating highly effective, idea-led branding, websites and promotional materials for SMEs.

After graduating with a first-class degree in Graphic Design and Advertising, and working in the industry for 5 years, Sophie launched SOKA. She says, "I believe in working with only the best individuals around, and I don't believe in being restricted by distance."

sophie (1)

The challenge

Making the cash flow

Forecasting. It's not the most stylish or engaging topic, but one that business owners have to grasp if they want their business to grow.

In 2019, SOKA Studio was ready to take on employees but struggled to map its financial growth. Founder and Creative Director, Sophie Karaer says, "I struggled with the aspect of forecasting. I needed advice on how much of a risk it would be to take on an employee. I needed help with the next stages of growth."

Sophie got her business to a certain point by using her initiative and working off her gut feeling. She decided she needed extra input if she wanted to go from a one-man-band to a prestigious agency.

Not only that but because Sophie had developed SOKA with no outside help, she felt as if she was "winging it". This made her anxious. She felt as if she was going through the motions with no goal or plan for the future.

The Solution

Gaining a grasp on the money side of things

By taking part in the accelerator programme in 2019, Sophie learned from other more established business owners. They helped her to nail down her thoughts, put a business plan in place, and understand the process of forecasting.

Since then, SOKA has taken on three full-time employees. Sophie says, "without taking those first steps and joining the programme, I wouldn't have expanded."

The pilot also helped Sophie understand the process of applying for business awards. This knowledge helped them secure the Micro Business of the Year award at the Lincolnshire Technology & Innovation Awards 2019.

SOKA now has clarity on where the business is heading and understands how to strategise. Sophie says, "the pilot has really helped me to cement my vision for SOKA."

Close up of couple searching online information about legal document details with laptop, family studying important contract terms and conditions typing filling internet application form on website
Sophie Karaer Head Shot

The Verdict

From the entrepreneur

When referring to the importance of spending time on your business instead of in it, Sophie says, "it's worth taking the time out of your business to pause and reflect on what you're doing because you get caught up in the running of it.

The programme helps you to do this and to take a look at your processes from an unbiased perspective."

Case Study 3

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William De Ath

Everfund

In 2017, Will and co-founder Christopher Burns were two people fresh out of university and set on becoming the next big tech start-up. When Will joined the accelerator pilot, they were promoting contactless solutions and digital experiences aimed at retailers. It was during the duration of the programme that they decided to pivot their idea and Everfund was established.

Everfund’s technology allows UK charities to create, share and track donation links across multiple donation channels with unique URLs and QR codes. It helps them to fundraise more effectively, no matter where their donors are.

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The Challenge

Rising above the noise and finding investment

Everfund knew it had a great concept. It just needed to grow in confidence and be given an opportunity to secure funding.

In those early days, Everfund was finding it hard to recognise a problem before it actually became one. The accelerator gave the team a sounding board and access to business advisors with experience. It helped them to channel their thoughts and turn their ideas into reality.

Not only that, the Everfund founders were getting a lot of advice from outside of the pilot and they wanted to use their own knowledge to determine what was right for them. Will says, “the pilot taught us to evaluate the noise and whether the advice we were receiving was fit for purpose.”

The Solution

Building the confidence to break the ceiling

Since taking part in the pilot in 2019, the business has built, tested and released its new product. Not only did Everfund receive investment via the programme, but they attracted the attention of GitHub co-founder and Silicon Valley investor Tom Preston-Warner, who ultimately invested in the business.

With big plans for the future, Everfund now feels confident enough to pursue more investment. Will says, “the pilot made us understand how big our opportunity is. And we’ll be keeping that in mind as we move forward.”

Male employee give flipchart presentation to smiling colleagues at negotiations, man present project or idea to happy coworkers at briefing, workers laugh at office meeting, having casual talk
Will De Ath Everfund Headshot

The Verdict

From the entrepreneur

On the Accelerator Programme, Will says, “if you’re thinking of doing something like this, go for it. You’re going to get support at a very early stage that will set your business up for the future. If you have the ability and want to do it, don’t hesitate.”

Case Study 3

William De Ath

Everfund

everfund-color (1)

In 2017, Will and co-founder Christopher Burns were two people fresh out of university and set on becoming the next big tech start-up. When Will joined the accelerator pilot, they were promoting contactless solutions and digital experiences aimed at retailers. It was during the duration of the programme that they decided to pivot their idea and Everfund was established.

Everfund’s technology allows UK charities to create, share and track donation links across multiple donation channels with unique URLs and QR codes. It helps them to fundraise more effectively, no matter where their donors are.

56229333_583055662202964_7566619369136979968_o

The Challenge

Rising above the noise and finding investment

Everfund knew it had a great concept. It just needed to grow in confidence and be given an opportunity to secure funding.

In those early days, Everfund was finding it hard to recognise a problem before it actually became one. The accelerator gave the team a sounding board and access to business advisors with experience. It helped them to channel their thoughts and turn their ideas into reality.

Not only that, the Everfund founders were getting a lot of advice from outside of the pilot and they wanted to use their own knowledge to determine what was right for them. Will says, “the pilot taught us to evaluate the noise and whether the advice we were receiving was fit for purpose.”

The Solution

Building the confidence to break the ceiling

Since taking part in the pilot in 2019, the business has built, tested and released its new product. Not only did Everfund receive investment via the programme, but they attracted the attention of GitHub co-founder and Silicon Valley investor Tom Preston-Warner, who ultimately invested in the business.

With big plans for the future, Everfund now feels confident enough to pursue more investment. Will says, “the pilot made us understand how big our opportunity is. And we’ll be keeping that in mind as we move forward.”

Male employee give flipchart presentation to smiling colleagues at negotiations, man present project or idea to happy coworkers at briefing, workers laugh at office meeting, having casual talk
Will De Ath Everfund Headshot

The Verdict

From the entrepreneur

On the Accelerator Programme, Will says, “if you’re thinking of doing something like this, go for it. You’re going to get support at a very early stage that will set your business up for the future. If you have the ability and want to do it, don’t hesitate.”

Case Study 4

Little Box of Hygge

Little Box of Hygge

The Well-Being of Business

Little Box of Hygge (hue gah) was set up by teacher and mum of two, Laura Donnelly, in November 2020. Hygge is a Danish word for cosy contentment and well-being through enjoying the simple things in life. Today, the business sells boxes of joy from its website that include Lincolnshire-made products, all of which are sustainable and environmentally friendly.

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The Challenge

When Laura put together her first Hygge boxes, that contained items like face packs, socks, a candle and coffee, little did she think she would sell out in 10 minutes! Realising she might be onto something, Laura set up an Etsy page, made 200 more boxes (all compostable of course) and sold them all immediately. From there Little Box of Hygge became a serious business and has grown month-on-month.

The company now manufactures its own range of candles and ensures it sources as much of its product as it can from local Lincolnshire suppliers including bookmarks made a local 14-year-old schoolgirl.

However, with growth to date having been completely organic (no pun intended!) and slightly haphazard, Laura felt it was time to get the business onto a more professional footing.

The Solution

Hearing about the University of Lincoln Accelerator programme from a connection on LinkedIn, Laura signed up to the eight-week programme and hasn’t looked back since. Now she’s also working on the well-being of the business rather than just working in it.

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The Verdict

From the entrepreneur

Laura puts it so well, “The Programme has been really amazing. It has clarified everything completely. I now have a business plan and so much more marketing knowledge. It’s been like a shot in the arm, and I’m so fired up and enthusiastic for the next stages of my business growth.”

Case Study 5

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Grayton limited

Engineering Future Success

Established in 1991 and now based in Barton Upon Humber in Lincolnshire, Grayton Ltd provides mechanical, structural and pipework engineering products and service support for clients in the cement, steel, oil, food and chemical industries.

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The Challenge

Carl Meale became Engineering Director of Grayton Ltd in 2020 following an illustrious thirteen-year career with the company. He joined three other Board directors, all of whom were very experienced but, as a collective, they felt the business needed a fresh approach. There was a consensus that the rapid growth they were experiencing needed to be managed correctly and that more business expertise, as against engineering skills, was needed at Board level.

The Solution

Enter the Productivity HUBs Programme from the University of Lincoln. Grayton Ltd decided that the Accelerator Programme, which provides a package of masterclasses, mentor-led guidance, and access to people willing to share knowledge, contacts and experience, was the perfect solution. This eight-week, part-time programme is designed to accelerate a business to the next level.

rigger trade cert presentation Ryan Brock
Rigger trade cert presentation Nick Glover

The Verdict

From the entrepreneur

“Every week of the Programme so far has been excellent, but I found the business plan sessions really struck a chord” said Carl Meale, “They were tailored to each business taking part in the Accelerator and were incredibly practical.

“I’ve now written a new business plan for Grayton Ltd that focuses, strategically and tactically, on how we are going to successfully engineer and manage our growth.

"The sessions around how to pitch for funding were invaluable and most definitely helped us secure the grant funding, which will be used to purchase alignment equipment. We would recommend Productivity HUBs to any manufacturing business, particularly as it is the only support programme of its kind that offers up to £10,000 seed funding."

Case Study 6

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Ascent Bath & Body

A Fresh Approach to Business Growth

Ascent Body and Beauty creates handmade bath and body products that are cruelty-free, vegan-friendly, manufactured free of sulphates and all based around exclusive fragrant themes.

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The Challenge

Michelle Davies from Ascent Body & Bath used her creativity to go from successful solicitor to soap award-winner! Following a course in soap-making, Michelle’s lecturer was so impressed with her ideas, fragrances and product themes that he took her to one side and suggested she set up business. So, she duly did, launching in January 2018.

The products all sold immediately and three months in, Ascent picked up a large wholesale order.

At this point, Michelle entered the business into the Theo Paphitis Small Business Awards, and it won! This gave the business a springboard to even greater growth, which included a stand at the Autumn Fair and the opportunity to get in front of a host of wholesale buyers. Ascent never looked back and moved into new premises in 2020.

Growth however, had not been planned and Michelle felt that she needed to undertake some training on how to run a successful business not just work in one.

The Solution

The online Accelerator programme from the University of Lincoln uses masterclasses and mentor-led guidance to provide practical advice to companies looking to grow. It features bite-size sessions on subjects such as marketing, business planning and financial management, all delivered by individuals that have been through the process of running successful enterprises.

Michelle found out about the Accelerator from her accountant and is five weeks into the eight-week programme.

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Michelle Davies

The Verdict

From the entrepreneur

“I was thrilled to secure some grant funding from the Accelerator Programme and am very much looking forward to transforming my bold vision into a reality. Anyone who is thinking of enrolling onto the programme, please do not hesitate. You will learn so much and start to see your business and your role within it in a completely different light”.

Case Study 7

The Wild Shepherdess logo

The Wild Shepherdess

Generating a Flock of New Customers

Harriet Foster-Thornton is a first-generation sheep farmer, having been given four sheep as a gift following graduation from university with a photography degree. Within two months Harriet added to the flock with 50 orphaned lambs, which had to be bottle fed every four hours!

From lamb boxes to soft furnishings made with sheepskin and wool, The Wild Shepherdess now offers unique, and completely British products both online and from its base near Scunthorpe.

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The Challenge

Having only started the sheepskin and sheepskin products side of The Wild Shepherdess at the end of January 2021, Harriet wanted to ensure that she started the business off on the right footing. Whilst having marketing experience, she realised that she needed the valuable input of professionals willing to share their knowledge, contacts and experience to benefit what was, effectively, now a manufacturing business.

The Solution

The Productivity HUBs Programme was recommended to Harriet by Gina Waterhouse, an advisor at Business Lincolnshire.

Harriet felt that meeting like-minded creative entrepreneurs that were as highly motivated as herself would give her the opportunity to learn so much. And, of course, an opportunity to pitch for a grant of up to £10,000 at the end, which, if successful, would provide a huge boost to this fledgling business.

The course has given The Wild Shepherdess so much confidence in all aspects of running the business, providing Harriet with a new professional mind set and thought process.

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The Verdict

From the entrepreneur

“I would 100% recommend the programme and have already done so to a number of people who have their own businesses.

“The extensive seminars have been so interesting, in particular, learning how to put together a professional business plan. We were very informatively educated on what we could include in a business plan and how to lay it out to be visually inspiring which has been very helpful.

“I have also found the general goal setting and motivational elements of the course extremely uplifting, it has encouraged me to have a physical document of goals and timeframes and to keep looking at it to help my business grow.

“Finally, it has been great to talk to likeminded entrepreneurs and business people that are all at different stages in their businesses and within a wide variety of business sectors, but all willing to share their experiences and advice. I think it is fair to say that we have all learnt something from one another.

"With lots of exciting plans in place including a new collection of sheepskins products currently in production, shows and events and a new office, I am really looking forward to growing my business and using the grant funding I obtained to do so.
"I'm extremely grateful for the funding I was granted and can't wait for lots of exciting plans and dreams to come to life."

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