Q: What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
Myself and my business partner, George, lived together at university and were always bouncing ideas off each other, we knew that we would never be satisfied unless we gave one of them our full attention. I have always been determined to make my own path and create something I can be proud of.
George and I are both keen sportsmen and have experienced and witnessed some nasty so wanted to create a brand that would encourage athletes to wear the correct protection.
Q: Tell us about your business:
Our flagship brand, SAFEJAWZ, is made up of advanced sports mouthguards that all feature fun designs across the face. We want to make sports protection something that people WANT to wear. Our plan is to replicate this with other protective equipment, changing athletes’ attitude towards protective equipment. We are now stocked in over 50 outlets across more than 12 countries and have distributors in Germany, Australia and Ireland.
Q: How did you go about setting up your business?
We have previous experience with mouthguards, having previously working with athletes to create bespoke dental fit mouthguards. We used this to research the market and found that designed mouthguards were becoming more sought after. We then sourced a factory with the necessary safety accreditations, produced some launch marketing and got on the phones for customers.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge so far with running your own business?
Choosing priorities is difficult sometimes; it is tempting to spend every minute on the phone selling but it is also important to look at long term growth strategies.
Q: How did/have you overcome these challenges?
We have regular team meetings to stay on focus and also manage time a bit more strictly to allow time for all necessary activities.
Q: What do you love about running your own business?
I love the freedom and the knowledge that every penny I make is a direct result of something I have done, and not an arbitrary figure that someone above me has decided I’m worth.
Q: Are there any top tips that you would like to share with others thinking about starting or growing their own business?
Be prepared to be doubted, be prepared to have times when you wonder how the bills will be paid, but be prepared for the most rewarding career you can imagine. Also don’t be afraid to take on finance; debt and equity are intimidating but you need to keep growth and momentum going to succeed.
Q: How much did you apply for and over what term?
£20,000 over 60 months.
Q: Why did you access financial support through CWRT?
They were recommended to me from an advisor based on their low interest rates and support of young businesses.
Q: What support did you receive from CWRT? i.e. did you find the process simple? Were you helped to improve your business plan and financials? Anything else?
The process was thorough, but that is to be expected. They guide you through the whole process and are always on the end of the phone if needed. They helped to tweak our business plan and financials and put together our application, making it relatively straight forward.
Q: How has the loan provided helped you?
With the start-up loan we were able to exhibit at the World’s largest sports expo and take on a new batch of stock to meet the resulting demand.
Q: Has the business loan helped you to create any jobs?
It has helped get us to the position where both George and I can now be full time on the business and we are currently in the process of taking on our first member of staff.