The number one priority for startups and most businesses is accessing finance especially when it’s needed to get the business start-up and running.
For young entrepreneurs, who don’t have years of experience working full-time or piles of savings in the bank, the challenge is arguably even greater.
This makes grant funding particularly attractive options for startups since you don’t have to worry about loan repayments or giving away too much equity in the business too early on.
However, getting to grips with the complex landscape of various funding options can be confusing and time-consuming.
For Fergus Moore, co-founder of low-carbon start-up, Revive Eco which turns waste coffee into biofuels, grant funding has been key to the success and growth of his business.
Established in 2015, Revive Eco transforms coffee ground waste into fertilisers and biomass pellets that can be used as a low carbon heating source.
Fergus’s startup, which won him the Shell LiveWIRE Smarter Future Award in January 2016, aims to revolutionise the way businesses and individuals dispose of their waste. They do this by changing people’s attitudes towards waste and waste disposal.
The young eco-entrepreneur gives us his top five tips on how to navigate the world of grant funding:
Do Your Research
Find out as much as you can about the different grants out there. We spent a few weeks looking up as many different grants and business competitions with cash prizes as we could possibly find, and it didn’t take long to rack up a pretty hefty list.
Understand How The Judging Process Works
Every grant and business competition have their own criteria. Grants will likely fall into a combination of the following categories: job creation, social benefits, environmental benefits, and benefits to the local community.
Make sure you understand precisely what they are looking for so you can tailor your application accordingly.
Make Contact With The Funding Organisation Before Applying
We always get in touch with the funding organisation in question a few weeks before submitting our application and try to keep a continuous dialogue with them until we’ve submitted it.
It’s as simple as introducing ourselves and then asking a few questions every now and again. But this means they already know a little about us before reading our application. If you’re lucky, they may even give you some pointers on how best to frame your application.
We have received more than our fair share of rejection emails over the years. The worst kind of feedback is an “unfortunately you have not been successful” response, so always get back to them and ask if they can provide more detailed feedback.
This will not only help you with future applications, but it can also highlight areas for improvement you’d never even considered.
Don’t Be Afraid To Try Again
In our experience, if a grant fund turns you down, it is sometimes because your business is at too early a stage, or your application just didn’t quite address the questions fully enough.
Take the feedback on board, read and then re-read the criteria and apply again with an updated business plan as soon as you can. A lot of places will be impressed by your persistence and confidence in your business.
There really is plenty of start-up money out there, so go out and get your hands on as much free cash as you possibly can and get your business up and running.