Tim Cocking, franchise owner of Bright Care, the Edinburgh and Glasgow-based domiciliary care provider, has taken advantage of alternative funding sources to raise capital for an ambitious new start-up business in Perth.
Cocking, whose franchise already employs nearly 80 people and has a turnover of £1 million, raised £30,000 in three weeks using peer-to-peer lending.
The remarkable exercise – on which he embarked when his normal bank funding became unavailable – will allow him to press ahead with the opening of a new, company-owned branch of Bright Care in Perth, one of Scotland’s most prosperous cities.
He said: “There is a great buzz about alternative financing methods and this quick and successful funding campaign demonstrates that, if the business model is sound, there is a huge appetite among investors both large and small.
“I know that many people would like to start or invest in a business but have issues around raising the necessary capital. In a climate in which mainstream lending is becoming more restricted, this kind of investment route is a viable and affordable alternative.”
Peer-to-peer lending is a relatively new concept in the UK that allows individuals to lend to each other and to small businesses. It aims to provide better returns for lenders than from a bank deposit account while offering easier access to credit for borrowers.
Since it was established in 2010, Funding Circle has provided nearly £287 million of investment capital to almost 30,000 businesses. The government-backed British Business Bank already has lent £20 million through Funding Circle and is making a further £40 million available this year.
Cocking said: “Potential investors on Funding Circle were able to interact with me and ask me questions about the business and its future direction. There was a mix of ordinary people looking for a reasonable return on their money and professional investors.
“Over the three-week fund-raising period, I was able to watch the different sums come in and they ranged from £20 to £2000. We were able to hit the time target with some margin to spare.”
Bright Care’s Perth business will be its first venture outside the Central Belt of Scotland.
Cocking said: “It is a further opportunity to demonstrate that the business model, which has been so successful in Glasgow and Edinburgh, is easily transferrable. Perth has a demographic which is just right for us and the market is currently substantially underserviced.”
Bright Care’s staff of carers look after older people who have chosen to live independently at home rather than in a residential or nursing home. The service includes everything from assisting with the linen and laundry to intensive live-in care for complex needs.