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19th July 2022

Q&A with imoves

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Northern Powerhouse Investment FundSouth Yorkshire Mayoral Combined AuthorityNPIF - BEF & FFE Microfinance

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund  was set up to make a real and measurable difference to businesses across the North West, Yorkshire, the Humber and Tees Valley. It has since led to the creation of thousands of new jobs, fuelled growth plans, and helped to create a more prosperous regional economy.

As part of NPIF’s 5th anniversary, we spoke to eight businesses that have secured investment to learn more about their investment experience.

Sheffield-based imoves active education secured a £50,000 investment in 2018 from NPIF – BEF & FFE Microfinance. Since then, the business has been able to increase its team size from three to eight people and treble its revenue. imoves, a digital platform which helps Primary School teachers get children more active, also plans to develop a new app for parents to use to keep kids active at home.

We spoke to Imogen Buxton-Pickles, founder and managing director at imoves, to ask about the impact of investment from Finance For Enterprise and the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund – here’s what they had to say:

Why did you seek out NPIF investment?

“We sought out investment to bootstrap the company as much as possible to get it to a place where we needed it to be.”

“Our goal is to get kids active in schools to support their health and wellbeing, especially giving teachers the support they need in P.E. to get kids moving. We initially went to the bank for funding, but weren’t offered the support we needed and had to look elsewhere. That’s where NPIF funding came in.”

Why was microfinance the right finance option for you?

“We were so small that we didn’t want to take on a huge debt loan from the beginning and that there would be more money down the line. Our plan was to use the loan to bootstrap ourselves into a position where we could start growing rapidly.”

“We wanted to delay having to lose any ownership which is why we opted away from an equity finance option.”

What difference has NPIF funding made to your business?

“We used the investment to build out a more robust platform for our services and fill it with valuable content for schools and teachers to use.”

“As a result of the funding, we went on to win a BETT award, which is Europe’s most prestigious award for ed-tech. In terms of revenue, we’ve been able to grow from bringing in £100,000 to now having more than tripled that number. This has enabled us to do similar with our staff numbers, bumping headcount from three to eight people, which has been really valuable.”

What new opportunities has NPIF provided you?

“There have been two fundamental opportunities that NPIF has provided us. The first is that we’ve been able to expand our offering to include more support on the mental well-being side of things for children.  The other is that we’re looking to develop an app for parents that offers a safe Tik-Tok-styled app to get younger kids to be active at home.”

“During the pandemic, we were quick to produce a whole new range of content for kids at home – keeping them active while they were away from school. We gave it away for free as well.”

What would you say to other business owners considering NPIF funding?

“Of course, it always depends on the needs of your business. But, my main pieces of advice would be that there is funding out there to take you to the next level. If you don’t succeed with traditional banks, then there are other sources out there keen to support you. Secondly, seeking NPIF funding forced us to really think about what we were trying to do and accomplish as a business and, as a result, it helped us to build a solid business plan.”

“With the microfinance option, we were allowed to get investment to build the business without having to give up equity at the beginning which was really valuable.”

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.

Business Enterprise Fund is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN: 726237)

Editors Notes

Find Out More

If you would like to meet with one of our appointed Fund Managers to talk in more detail please go to 'Funds Available' to find the Fund Managers operating in your area

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Microfinance

£25k – £100k

Microfinance page
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Debt Finance

£100k – £750k

Debt Finance page
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Equity Finance

£50k – £2m

Equity Finance page
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