Posted: Mon 3rd Jun 2013
It's back! Enterprise Nation has teamed up with PayPalÂ to relaunch Fund101, our innovative small-scale funding scheme for start-ups and growing businesses who know that little things can make all the difference.
With funding once again generouslyÂ provided by PayPal, Fund101Â offers a pot of money of up to Â£500 to small businesses with a need for the little extra that will help them either get their idea off the ground or reach more customers and sell more of their product or service.
It could be ecommerce software for your website, a digital camera for better product shots, raw materials for handmade goods,Â a display stand or banner for fairs and markets, an iPad to enable you to work away from your home office - whatever's going to make a genuine difference to YOUR business. In addition to up to Â£500 of funding, we're also giving away up to $500 of Elance credit to successful applicants to spend on outsourced work. For the second wave of Fund101, we've revised the application and voting system to make it more focused for both applicants and voters. Here's how it's going to work:
We'll be giving a maximum of Â£500 to two businesses each month (we've Â£1,000 to give away, so we can give small amounts up to that sum).
These businesses will be voted for by Enterprise Nation members from a shortlist of five applicants selected by us.
Shortlists will go live on the first working day of each month and voting will last until the final week of that month.
The two businesses with the most votes at the end of the month get the cash. It's not a loan - you can keep it.
It's clear, simple and means you'll really have to stand out to be shortlisted. Here are some tips to help you make a strong application that catches our eye.
"I'm planning to use the Â£500 to buy some fabrics. And I want to get some samples made - that would be a really good result for me."
What are we looking for?
1. Be an actual business. Firstly, Fund101 is open to UK businesses rather than charities or personal projects. Though we're keen to help start-ups that may not have begun trading yet, we'll be looking for evidence that you have a solid enterprise under way and you'll begin selling soon. We welcome applications from social enterprises, too. Basically, if you sell a product or service for profit, you qualify. 2. Make a strong application. We're expecting to get a lot of applications each month and we'll only be selecting five for shortlist each time. So take a little time to put together a strong application and bear in mind that we'll be looking for entries that clearly show how the money will be spent to help you start or grow your business.Â Tell us why you deserve people's votes! 3. Sell us your business. Give us a clear USP. Enterprise Nation particularly supports start-ups, early stage and burgeoning businesses that are built on creativity and personal passion. So tell us something about your business and why you started it or let us know what you get out of running your own enterprise. Think of it as a kind of elevator pitch - can you tell us in two sentences everything we need to know about your business? 4. Have a stand-out idea. Obviously, we'd love to fund every small enterprise, but with a limited pot of money, we'll be looking to fund business ideas that stand out for us. This doesn't mean it has to be something wacky or super-innovative; but tell us clearly what you'll spend the money on, why, and what difference it will make to your business. Sometimes the simple things can make a huge difference - but you need to tell us how! Why should we give this money to you rather than someone else?
"Proper video capabilities would be amazing. We could put up clips of classes to really explain the difference between one style of hip-hop and another."
5. Show us your personality. Don't be shy - sell us yourself, as well as your business. Is there a strong story behind your business? Has it changed your life? Do you have a real passion for what you do? Please show it! 6. Give us something to look at. A picture tells a thousand words, and a good image could make the difference betweenÂ us shortlisting your business or someone else's. Whether it's a picture of you at work, samples of your products - whatever tells us something about you and your business, include it in your application. 7. If you're really brave"¦ send us a video pitch. We'd love to have a video of you telling us the above. It doesn't have to be great quality - it just has to sell us you, your business and your funding idea. You could even do it on an iPhone. Be brave! 8. Read our sample application to get a sense of how to approach it. We put together this sample application to give you an idea of the sort of information we're looking for and how we'd like to see it structured. You don;t have to do it just like this though!
We had a great range of businesses earn small pots of money for really useful things the first time we ran Fund101. Take a look at some of these profiles to get an idea of what appeals to us and to Enterprise Nation readers:
Make your application
To apply, simply fill out the Fund101 application form and hit the button. The first shortlist will go live on Monday 1st July and we'll be closing July applications on Monday 24th June. If you have any questions, you can contact Ben and he'll be happy to answer them. But please do read the Fund101 FAQs and terms and conditions first! Good luck!