Business Incubator case studies

Find out how our current members are benefiting from the Business Incubator.

Blackfish Swimwear

How the business experience of our research teams brought a new perspective to a leisure swimwear proposition.

Lisa Montague launched Blackfish with the intention to bring the ultimate in flattering swimwear to every woman. Using elite compression fabrics, the swimwear gives an instant streamlined fit, smooths the silhouette and boosts confidence. While the brand’s positive ethos had won customers and generated press coverage, it was clear that a deeper understanding of its core market would be an essential part to the next phase of growth. Something that our Incubation Hub has been able to offer.

Working closely with Professor Michael Brookes and Dr Christopher Brown, Blackfish was able to share key market research to see what meaningful
conclusions could be drawn and built upon. This greater level of knowledge and understanding, along with the perspectives of like-minded entrepreneurs within the Hub, has carved a stronger direction for the brand. Moving forward, the most important development has been to clearly define the Blackfish customer, so that a tailored marketing strategy and message can be developed to gain better traction within the right market.

It’s having access to all those brains with the knowledge experience to look at your problem. It just cuts through it really quickly, challenging your preconceptions of how you approach things.

Lisa Montague, Founder, Blackfish Swimwear

Glow Training

How the aspirations and reach of an innovative impact training company evolved through the Business Incubator.

When Glow first engaged with our Business Incubator, it had already built solid foundations within the corporate community. Inspired by the acting background of its founder, Ian Golding, Glow offered a unique approach to communication and personal impact training that had found its market in high-level business environments. But by joining our first cohort of local enterprises, it’s been able to progress from the input of our like-minded entrepreneurs, resources and expertise.

With access to our academic network and campus facilities, Glow has gained valuable insight to take the company forward. From market research to key contacts, this ability to share ideas and compare notes has proved incredibly beneficial to understanding its own potential. While its membership of the business incubator is still in its initial stages, doors have started opening further afield, with conversations leading the business to consider its options within new emerging and untapped markets.

Some of the things we’ve talked about has opened my eyes to a whole new sector, new contacts and new ways of working. There are possibilities I didn’t know existed and the potential is massive.

Ian Golding, Founder, Glow Training

Hello Flexibles

How a local plastics supplier prepared for the changing landscape of its industry.

Hello Flexibles is a local business operating on an impressive scale. As a supplier of plastics for fresh produce, it works closely with leading retailers and packers throughout Europe. But as external pressures on this industry grow, its investment as a business has shifted its focus from global expansion into sustainability – in the development of its future workforce and product range. By building a great partnership with the University, Hello Flexibles now has help with both needs.

The first project was to develop a long-term solution to training new talent – together creating a bespoke Degree Apprenticeship. The offer of educational support within an international company attracted ten applicants to a desirable full-time Supply Chain Co-Ordinator role; with the successful candidate bringing great ideas into the business. In addition, the Business Incubator has exposed Hello Flexibles to the University’s extensive resources and innovators. Already, new collaborations are in the pipeline, including the possibility of teaming up with the Food Science department to explore new solutions in environmentally-friendly packaging.

I want this relationship to have longevity. I want my current Apprentice to keep training and to take a new one on
every year. I want to give something back and I’m looking forward to what this partnership could bring next.

Malcolm MacKenzie, Director, Hello Flexibles

Virtronix

How sharing experiences helped a virtual reality start-up overcome its growing pains.

Virtronix was set up jointly by the two Richards (Richard B and Richard J) and has grown in its first year to become a successful digital marketing agency with clients across various sectors from hospitality and retail, to real estate and education. Using 3D 360° scanning technology, aerial drones and the latest software, Virtronix creates virtual reality tours and experiences which present all business types in an easy to digest yet immersive way.

As a tech startup in a fast-moving environment, Richard J has found his membership with the Business Incubator invaluable, enabling him to link with other businesses going through the same “growing pains”, learning from the mistakes that others have made, but also sharing in each other’s successes.

We have benefitted in many ways from being members of the Incubator - both physically and emotionally! In particular, it is refreshing to hear how our peers are progressing with their plans. We have also held team development workshops in the Incubator facilities - a perfect ‘neutral place’ with space, light, internet and a coffee bar!

Richard Jackson, Operations Director, Virtronix

Phil’s Cuisine

How the Business Incubator helped take a catering company from surviving, to thriving.

Philippe and Rachel Meyepa’s start up journey has not been an easy one, having tried to launch Phil’s Cuisine as a restaurant and a food delivery service – and neither venture gaining any traction. It was through word of mouth that the business finally began to take off, enabling them to secure a number of catering contracts with high profile corporate clients including The Delta Group and Santander.

Philippe felt that even though the business was “good,” it wasn’t “growing,” and so he came to the Business Incubator for guidance in marketing, social media and developing a web presence.

The Incubator has driven us in the right direction where we have been able to get the help we needed regarding our logo, social media and marketing. We are now working towards creating a brand and an e-commerce business where we will be able to sell our products.

Philippe Meyepa, Managing Director, Phil’s Cuisine

Beautanix

How a business owner found a supportive community in the Business Incubator.

Margaret Frixou’s natural and organic skin-care range, Beautanix, is a product of her background in aromatherapy. When her son was 6 years old he suffered from severe eczema, and Margaret used natural oils to calm and heal his condition. She then set to work creating her own skin care range.

Halfway through the process, Margaret was diagnosed with breast cancer, causing her to undergo radiotherapy. Knowing her skin would burn throughout the treatment, she developed another oil which calmed the trauma and regenerated the damaged skin. She quickly realised that there weren't a lot of products on the market for those going through the side effects of cancer treatments, and so her new suite of products was born. But Margaret has found starting up a business to be lonely at times, which brought her to the Business Incubator.

I joined the Business Incubator as I wanted to mix with like minded people who are in the same position as me, to ask advice and support and bounce ideas off. With the varied businesses I’m sure we can all support each other in various ways with our different channels of knowledge.

Margaret Frixou, Owner, Beautanix

Pocket PA

How an app developer tackled the challenges of a new venture though collaboration.

Caroline Syson originally created the Pocket PA app for her 19-year-old daughter when she started out as an eyelash artist. The cloud-based, practical business tool is 100% tax deductible, and it enables any self-employed (or ltd company) micro-business owner to manage their clients, appointments, billing and accounts from one single app.

The Business Incubator presented Caroline with an opportunity to work with a dynamic group of supportive, like-minded business owners to tackle the challenges of her new venture, share the journey and collaborate on ideas.

My specific challenges include marketing and sales and discovering the best ways to reach my target users – I hope that by sharing these challenges, I will gain new ideas to try and explore avenues I might otherwise not have thought of.

Caroline Syson, Founder, Pocket PA

Trust Business Partners

How a boutique consultancy found an affordable home in the Business Incubator.

In 2017, Graham Bunting and David Pitts left their respective corporate careers in telecoms and IT, pooling together their 60+ years of business experience with vendors, distributors and resellers within the UK and internationally to start their own venture. Trust Business Partners is a boutique consultancy offering advisory and consulting services to vendors and distributors wishing to go to market in the UK and EMEA via an indirect sales channel.

Graham and David were looking for a suitable home for their business to develop in, without the expense of a private office. With the added value of working with other start up businesses, they were drawn to our Business Incubator.


It helps keep us sharp and there are others around with disparate skills and networks that we can hopefully leverage together – it’s a real case of synergy in action I believe. We particularly like the notion that we might find innovative businesses where we could add value and potentially collaborate.

Graham Bunting, Founding Partner, Trust Business Partners

Conversion Detectives

How a solo start-up owner sought to grow and expand his business.

Conversion Detectives is a digital consultancy owned by Jim Kinloch, which aims to help SME’s accelerate their online growth.

Jim joined the Business Incubator after developing his business to the point where it needed to grow beyond a one-man-band, and into an agency. Seeking support through this growth phase, Jim has been able to access advice and insights from fellow entrepreneurs.

Finding new clients is also a challenge but can be done. What the business needs is a reserve of digital detectives, for example analysts which are hard to find and would have to be trained. This is where I hope Business Incubator can provide guidance.

Jim Kinloch, Owner, Conversion Detectives

PRESTO Technologies

How a technology company tapped into our ecosystem for entrepreneurial support.

PRESTO was launched with the aim of helping businesses embrace mobile e-commerce instead of finding the adoption of technology intimidating. PRESTO helps businesses get their online presence right in today’s competitive environment, by providing a customisable range of app and web-based solutions to help them engage, acquire and retain customers.

Sagar Patel from PRESTO has directly experienced the benefits of the University’s Business Incubator from the onset of his membership. He was able to seek advice and guidance throughout important stages of his business journey and further engage in various initiatives to help overcome entrepreneurial challenges.

The Incubator offering from the University not only helps us develop the business with access to expert resources, innovative students and excellent facilities but allows us to contribute within the University’s ecosystem with real life business experiences and learnings.

Sagar Patel, Director, PRESTO Technologies

RKB Artisan Jeweller

How a jewellery designer is achieving personal and professional growth through the Business Incubator.

Rosamunde Battaliou combined her love of creativity, art and natural beauty to launch her own business as an artisan jeweller. She now designs and produces bespoke accessories and handcrafted jewellery using precious metals and gems.


Rosamunde’s start up journey has always been fuelled by a desire for personal growth as much as a desire to build a successful business, and this is what brought her to the Business Incubator. She hopes that the Incubator environment will help her to overcome her personal challenges with developing technical skills, in addition to achieving business goals of setting up a website and streamlining administrative processes.


I wanted to be around inspiring, likeminded people, all on a similar journey. Being part of the Business Incubator has allowed me to expand my knowledge, plan ahead, discuss issues, set goals, and take on board suggestions that have potential to help grow my bespoke jewellery business.

Rosamunde Battaliou, Founder, RKB Artisan Jeweller

Scaffforce Services

How the Business Incubator provided insight into best practice for establishing a successful start-up.

Scaffforce Services was launched when Director, Nicholas Aitalegbe recognised a gap in the market within the construction industry for the recruitment of scaffolders. The business was then developed as a subsidiary of the Centre for Regional and International Development, to act as a specialist scaffolder-only recruitment group, owned and managed by seasoned and experienced scaffolders.


Nicholas approached the Business Incubator in its capacity as an all-round business support system, for guidance on various activities involved in the day-to-day running of Scaffforce Services, such as financial support, access to facilities and assistance with staffing. He also saw the appeal of being able to develop an open relationship with other Incubator members to share and improve ideas.

“We wanted to explore the opportunities of tapping into a business focused university for the purpose of gaining insight into best practices in establishing a successful business start-up.”

Nicholas Aitalegbe, Director, Scaffforce Services