Finance · 26 August 2015

Why my time-consuming experience with grant funding has put me off applying again

Gourdie now runs,  but has not looked into a grant for it
Gourdie now runs, but has not looked into a grant for it
Lenka Gourdie received a grant to help with her first business, online site in 2011. She spoke to Business Advice about how the opportunity came about, whythe admin-filled process deterred her from future applications and what advice she’d give to other small businesses looking into grant funding.

Since setting up BagServant, Gourdie has’started upa variety of other firms across the fashion and lifestyle sectors and now runs a consultancy firm focusing on branding and customer engagement along with online platform

Back when her first businesswas just taking off, Gourdie looked into ways to monetise the website as revenue wasn’t high. She landed on the ideaofhandbag customisation, so to get that underway Gourdie sought a grant to develop a prototype.

(1) What led to you applying for grant funding?

When we run BagServant, I believed that women would want to be able to buy a tailored and bespoke bag. We worked with emerging designers who were very interested in delivering this service.

I looked for partners and funding to help me to deliver this and across Creative Works (a government & EU funded body). Through this we applied jointly with Kingston University for the grant.

I saw an opportunity to work with their digital team to design a platform for customisation and create a prototype to test the market. This grant allowed us to conduct market research with the brands to find out their interest and the exact details what they would need to use this platform.

(2) Was it hard to find right grant funding to fit your business?

It was not difficult as I had a connection with Kingston University and they introduced me to Creative Works. It was actually at the early stage of my research into funding options.

We had to make our application form very appealing to stand out of the crowd, so working on this application with a partner took longer than we estimated.

(3) What went into the process of applying for the grant was it a time-consuming process?

The application process itself took too long, especially if you are a small business and you have other priorities and responsibilities.

It was our responsibility to negotiate the IP with the university and this took too long. The funder did not have set rules for this. The negotiation process used the majority of the money we received and at the end we had to come to a compromise in order to start the work on the actual development.

The work itself took too long so we didnt meet the set deadline.

After a bad experience with the grant process for her first business BagServant,  Lenka Gourdie has been put off from seeking another
Gourdie had a bad experience with the grant process for her first business BagServant
(4) What will the finance allow you to do now?

As the project took too long to complete, the quality of the work did not meet our and market expectations and we could not progress with the outcome. While we were paid for our work, the number of hours put into itwas significantly more than the amount we were paid. With no outcome and being a small business, we felt that diversified our efforts.

(5) Do you think there is enough grant funding out there for businesses of your size?



Rebecca is a reporter for Business Advice. Prior to this, she worked with a range of tech, advertising, media and digital clients at Propeller PR and did freelance work for The Telegraph.

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