Picture story: how 248 people lent £25k to help produce a gin for Waitrose

Bramley & Gage manufacture award-winning fruit liqueurs and gin in Thornbury, Gloucestershire. In May, they took out a business loan through Funding Circle which was funded by 248 people across the UK.

Here’s the story of their business and their experience of Funding Circle in their own words:










If you’d prefer to view the images in full screen, click the full screen button, bottom right, on the Slideshare below:

The Weekly Lending Review: Week 30

Week 30: 22 – 28 July 2013

Over £3.6 million worth of new lending opportunities were listed on the marketplace last week, including loans to a leading fireworks display supplier and a designer of women’s clothes. Of the 58 new loans, the majority were allocated to the C risk band.

New loans

There were 58 new business loans listed last week and there are currently 41 auctions on the marketplace.

The total value of the new listed loans was £3,613,500; that’s an average of £62,302 per loan. The largest loan value was £150,000 and the smallest loan value was £7,000.

Business loans still available for bidding on for the next 3 days or more:

Weekly marketplace trends

These graphs show the most recent activity on the marketplace. The average gross yield graph is reported weekly and shows a rolling two week average. Number of loans, value of loans and secondary market are reported weekly. The dates on the graph should be read as ‘week beginning’, for example: 8-Jul represents the week of 22nd – 28th July.

Weekly average gross yield (2 weeks rolling)


Number of listed loans per week


Listed loan value per week


News you should know

We visited Bramley & Gage, a manufacturer of fruit liqueurs and gin in Gloucestershire, after they took out a £25k business loan in May. They used their loan to buy a new gin still which will allow them to increase capacity. In this video we explore how the family business started and became what Bramley & Gage is today.

The refer a friend promotion will end on the 31st July at 17:00 so be sure to get your recommendations in before then if you’d like to earn cashback for you and your friends.

Community Discussions

This week we’re talking about how peer-to-peer lending to businesses is taxed. You can join the discussion in our community forum.

Loans defaulted last week

Branded jeans company. Loans 1471 and 898 This London-based business designs and sells women’s jeans and encountered cashflow difficulties earlier this year. The original loan amounts were £156,000 and £95,000 and all 1,301 investors have been notified.

Computer system supplier. Loan 1814 This Bolton-based business has been put into administration and has failed to keep up with repayments. The original loan amount was £75,000 and all 665 investors have been notified.

Enjoy lending, The Funding Circle Team

– See more at: https://www.fundingcircle.com/about-us/our-blog/weekly-lending-review-week-30#sthash.jTAv3gjw.dpuf

Video: Meet the businesses you lend to: Bramley & Gage

Bramley & Gage was started 25 years ago by husband and wife, Edward and Penny Kain. Their son, Michael, has since taken over the family business which manufactures award-winning fruit liqueurs and gin in Thornbury, Gloucestershire.

Their fruit liqueurs which include strawberry, elderflower and plum, have won numerous prestigious drink awards and their 6 o’Clock Gin is now stocked in Waitrose stores nationwide.

In May, they took out a peer-to-peer loan through Funding Circle for £25k to buy a new gin still to help them increase their production. This was funded by 248 people in 7 days. In this video we explore how the business started and became what Bramley and Gage is today. Edward and Michael also share their experience of Funding Circle as a small business borrower.

5 crucial business tips I’ve used to grow my enterprise


In our latest business advice video, Ark Consultants and OMM founder, Tom Williams, shares with us his 5 most important tips for growing a small business. All of which is based on his own experience of taking his business from an idea to a thriving enterprise.

The 5 business tips are:

Tip 1: Find a fresh idea and back yourself

Tip 2: Build trust and relationship within your community

Tip 3: Stay close to your customer as you grow

Tip 4: Understand who you are talking to when marketing and where to talk to them

Tip 5: Start small, stay focussed, keep evolving Watch the video to dive into the detail of each tip.

Ark Consultants borrowed £80k from 737 people in January through Funding Circle to help expand their adventure apparel brand OMM into international markets. If you’re looking for business Finance, come talk to us.

Setting out SMART objectives that can boost your bottom line


Most successful businesses keep a close eye on their bottom line by managing their profit and loss accounts, their balance sheet and how the cash is flowing in and out. However business success isn’t just about getting the financials right, it’s also about how you operate.

Many of these companies have business objectives that are tied to their financial reporting and this is something that every SME should strive for, but how do you get there? Here’s a quick breakdown of what SMART objectives are and the sort of questions to be asking yourself when doing your business planning.

Phase one. Setting out SMART objectives:

  • Specific – This is where you ask the questions What, Where, Who, Which and Why?
  • Measurable – Really drill into the how many and when will I know that I have accomplished what I set out to achieve.
  • Attainable – Set down how you are going to achieve your goal.
  • Relevant – The sanity check – Does it make sense to do this now? Is this a priority? Does it fit with everything else you are doing? And have you got the right people for the job?
  • Time Bound – When are you going to do this, how long with it last and what can you do today, tomorrow and next week towards this goal.

It’s worth noting that with any goals that are tied to business objectives, it is worth evaluating the outcomes at regular intervals and also re-evaluating the process, goals and how SMART your goals were when you have put it into practice so that you can improve your goal setting and the performance of your company. Here is a great example of putting those SMART objectives into practice in advertising. For all you non-advertising businesses out there, here’s another great resource: 10 Steps to Setting SMART objectives.

Phase 2: Linking SMART Objectives to your financials

Once you’re comfortable with setting SMART objectives, you’ll be ready to take the SMART process one step further: linking them to your financial measures. This requires an additional level of commitment when but it also means you can set a budget to each objective as you can now measure the successful (and sometimes not!), financial impact of your objectives. When you are looking for someone to invest in your company or lend money to you it is essential that the return on investment is clear and that the investor knows when they will be paid back. Getting into these habits early will not only help with short term cash flow but also in the long term by making it easy to justify further investments in staff, buildings and much more!



Funding Circle on Channel 4 News


Last night, Channel 4 News ran a feature about the growth of new types of finance for businesses. We featured in the piece with Samir Desai, our CEO, talking about the business benefits of using peer-to-peer lending. Also included was one of our borrowers, Moo Free. They are the only dairy-free chocolate manufacturer in the UK.
After struggling with the banks for 4 months, Moo Free came to Funding Circle and were able to take out a loan in April 2013. They achieved their £60k loan in less than a week which was funded by 366 people and the British Government. They have used the money to purchase equipment to facilitate their rapid growth which is exactly what the British economy needs.

We are delighted to see one of our fantastic borrowers on national news; and we hope that this broadcast will help raise awareness of peer-to-peer lending across the UK.


More businesses to lend to with our new risk band

Following the successful launch of C band loans in September 2011, we are introducing a fifth risk band, which will increase the number and variety of businesses available on Funding Circle for you to lend to. You can expect to see some of these new rated loans on the marketplace from tomorrow.

We are introducing this new risk band because we want to support even more British businesses to sidestep the banks and access the finance they need to grow. It will also offer an attractive risk-return profile for investors with the minimum bid rate for C- band loans being set at 11.5%, and the expected annualised bad debt rate is 5%. Read more about expected annualised bad debt rate and how to manage your risk.

Having a new risk band will naturally change a few things when it comes to lending through Funding Circle, so here’s a quick checklist of what to consider when making your lending decisions:

  • If you currently have Autobid turned on, it will not bid on loan requests in the new C- risk band. If you want to allow Autobid to bid on C- borrowers, you will need to log into your account on or after Wednesday 10th July 2013 and simply turn Autobid off and then on again and this will automatically include C- band.
  • If you are a new investor and have not yet turned Autobid on, loans in the C- band will be included when you turn your Autobid on. If you do not want to lend to C- band businesses, go to Advanced Settings on the Autobid tab.
  • Loans in the C- risk band will initially have a minimum bid rate of 11.5% to reflect the higher level of risk. The estimated annualised bad debt rate is 5%.
  • Remember all businesses listed, including those with C- risk bands, are required to have maintained a good credit score, have at least 2 years filed accounts, have no county court judgements (CCJs) over £250 and pass Funding Circle’s full credit assessment. As with all loans, businesses allocated to the C- risk band must demonstrate that the loan is affordable.
  • Similar to loans in other risk bands, in almost all circumstances a personal guarantee will be requested for C- band borrowers which will be clearly shown on the loan request page.

We are excited to grow the marketplace by providing even more lending opportunities for investors, allowing them to earn attractive returns and support British businesses.

– See more at: https://www.fundingcircle.com/about-us/our-blog/more-businesses-to-lend-to-with-our-new-risk-band#sthash.dDPw1fLd.dpuf

What’s keeping UK business owners up at night

What's keeping UK business owners up at night

Once a month at Funding Circle, we ask our small business owners one question to get a better understanding of what’s important to small businesses right now, so that this insight can be shared with other small businesses. We call it The Big Question and this month we asked:

“As a director or owner of an SME, what is the one thing you are struggling to wrap your head around or problem solve at the moment?”

And the results from the respondents are quite interesting:


Unsurprisingly, the businesses in our database are most interested in how access to funding can help them grow, which is definitely something we can help with. The breakdown of the remaining responses is just as interesting:


Almost half of these respondents want to know more about how they can market their business online and in social media. Are you having the same issue? Tell us about it in the comments.
And then a third of respondents want insight into expanding internationally. Here’s a great comment on this answer from one of our business owners, could you suggest an answer for him in the comments?:

“Dilemma is how to split efforts and resources between marketing via conventional means in specialist magazine, or online media, how many International trade shows to exhibit at or dealers to visit, or how much effort should be spent to contact distributors to the trade, Internationally”.

This is great insight into the minds of small business owners and helps us understand what you want to know more about. We hope you find it just as useful. We’ve taken these results and started working on articles that you may find helpful.

The new Big Question

Help us to help you by answering the new Big Question, results will be published in July:

If you have any suggestions of questions we should be asking in The Big Question, let us know in the comments

– See more at: https://www.fundingcircle.com/about-us/our-blog/what-s-keeping-uk-business-owners-up-at-night#sthash.LjYMiA7U.dpuf

Meet a business you’ve lent to: Tatty Devine

Tatty Devine, from the East End, design custom jewellery

Tatty Devine was started in 1999 by two friends from art college, Harriet Vine and Rosie Wolfenden. They are an independant British micro-manufacturer and specialise in creating ‘stand out’ jewellery and fashion accessories.

In the past 14 years the company has been recognised by numerous awards and honours including an MBE for the co-founders. They have two stores in London, a concession at Selfridges and over 300 stockists worldwide.

In May, they took out a peer-to-peer loan through Funding Circle for £100k which was funded by 1,211 people in 7 days. In this video we explore their life story from starting the business to where they are now and what their experience of Funding Circle has been as a small business borrower.

– See more at: https://www.fundingcircle.com/about-us/our-blog/meet-the-businesses-you-lend-to-tatty-devine#sthash.zwiIWLCU.dpuf

Weekly Lending Review: week 26

Weekly Lending Review, week 26, 24 - 30 June 2013

Weekly Lending Review, week 26, 24 – 30 June 2013

£2.8 million worth of new lending opportunities were listed on the marketplace last week, including a Yorkshire-based hotel and a food flavouring manufacturer. The majority of the loan requests were allocated to the C risk band.

£11.6 million was lent to businesses across the UK in June alone; accounting for nearly 10% of the total amount ever lent.

New loans

There were 44 new business loans listed last week and there are currently 18 auctions on the marketplace.

The total value of the new listed loans was £2,792,500; that’s an average of £63,466 per loan. The largest loan value was £150,000 and the smallest loan value was £10,000.

Business loans still available for bidding on for the next 3 days or more:

Weekly marketplace trends

These graphs show the most recent activity on the marketplace. The average gross yield graph is reported weekly and shows a rolling two week average. Number of loans, value of loans and secondary market are reported weekly. The dates on the graph should be read as ‘week beginning’, for example: 24-Jun represents the week of 24th – 30th June.

Weekly average gross yield (2 weeks rolling)


Number of listed loans per week


Listed loan value per week


News you should know

Were you one of the 1,211 people who lent £100k to Tatty Devine earlier this year? We visited their shop on Brick Lane to film them and to ask them more about their business. In the video, we explore how they started their unique jewellery business in 1999, which has lead both of the founders to receiving MBEs at the start of this year.

Community Discussions

This week we’re talking about the introduction of new minimum bid rates and you can join the discussion in our community forum.

Loans defaulted last week

No loans were defaulted last week.

Enjoy lending, The Funding Circle Team

– See more at: https://www.fundingcircle.com/about-us/our-blog/weekly-lending-review-week-26#sthash.zPFjgS3W.dpuf

Picture story: how 1,211 people lent £100k to a fashion company through peer-to-peer lending

1,211 people lent £100k to Tatty Devine. Read their story

Tatty Devine design unique fashion accessories from their Base in Brick Lane in London. In May, they took out a peer-to-peer loan through Funding Circle for £100k which was funded by 1,211 people in 7 days.

Here’s the story of their business and their experience of Funding Circle in their own words:


If you’d prefer to view the images in full screen, click the full screen button, bottom right, on the Slideshare below:

The complete guide to growing your business internationally: part 1

Our series on how to grow your business internationally

Welcome to part one of our guide to growing your business internationally. In this edition, we’ll give you an overview of the steps and decisions you’ll need to consider when thinking of expanding overseas. In the next edition, we’ll dive deeper into finding ways to distribute your offering across borders.


Why expand your business overseas?

Britain, like many of the developed nations, is losing economic dominance on the world stage. By 2020 The Economist predicts that the emerging markets – specifically BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) – will be the new global leaders(i).

There has never been a better time, or need, to think about where your business growth might come from outside of the UK.

But many growing businesses are concerned about the level of difficulty in setting up overseas. There’s a lot of advice available out there but what steps do you really need to take to make trading abroad a reality? Here’s our step-by-step guide how.

Step One: Get Real

“We moved into exports when a UK client asked us to take on a major contract in the States. At the same time we started working with a firm in Taiwan to make circuitry, who said in return, ‘We have a contract in Ireland, could you take it on?” – Harry Everington, Chairman of signage manufacturer and installer Pearce Signs (iii).

Growing your business overseas is not a Plan B if you’ve failed to grow your business in the UK first. Ideally, you’ll know you’re ready to expand abroad because:

  • You’ve dominated the local market and growth has flat lined and/or…
  • You’re already selling to, or getting order requests from, other countries

You also need to consider whether your business relies on your physical presence i.e. if you’re a florist famed for your floral arrangements your business probably needs you around to deliver the work. This barrier is a very real consideration to those who deliver services.

Step Two: Think Strategically

“Business is done between people, not companies, so you need to ask yourself if people get your strategy and whether they will adopt it.” – Richard North, chief executive of toy manufacturer Wow! Stuff (iv)

Even if the demand for your product is there, does it make sense strategically for you to grow overseas?

Only you know what the overarching mission is for the company and only you have access to all the insight, knowledge, and figures to determine if expanding overseas will drive growth or send costs spiralling out of control.

You may have found success to date felt ‘spontaneous’ or that you rely on ‘gut instinct’ to make decisions. That’s OK but the logistics of operating in another market involve a huge amount of effort and jumping through official hoops which may not excite you in the way running your existing business does today. You’ll need a sound, strategic plan, to see you through the tough times and convince key stakeholders along the way that you’re headed for success.

In particular you’re going to need to plan your finances. You’ll need a plan for working capital, bonds and credit insurance to reduce financial risk. You’ll also probably want to take out a foreign-exchange contract to protect the business from unpredictable and fluctuating currency rates – even a shift of one percentage point can make a significant impact on your margin. All of this should be considered while developing your strategy.

Step Three: Find a Mentor/s and or Local Advisor to guide you through the process

“I needed to attract new business on a tight deadline. Thanks in part to UKTI’s assistance, we were able to secure a new contract in just six months, exceeding even their expectations.” – Tom Elvidge, Principle Consultant of Consultancy Moorhouse. (v)

There’s no way you and some late night Googling are going to do this on your own. You need expert, local knowledge and maybe even the support of someone who’s been there. (And we don’t mean just been there on a holiday.)

In the UK there are some organisations dedicated to helping businesses like yourselves do this very thing.

UK Trade & Investment: UKTI s going to be your first stop. They are the official Government body set-up to work with UK businesses expanding internationally. Working with them will get you access to loads of practical advice, market research, and potentially even funding. They also operate offices in key markets so should be able to connect you with someone in your market of choice http://www.ukti.gov.uk

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills: Another government resource, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, advises on specific areas such as trade agreements, market assessments and intellectual property law www.bis.gov.uk

The Institute of Directors: If you’re already a member of the IOD you may or may not be aware that they offer advisory services on trading abroad. Even for non-members there is some handy information available on their website www.iod.com

Business Councils: Some economic relationships between Britain and other countries are already very strong and joint initiatives have been established to encourage trade. For example there’s the China-Britain Business Council, the British-American Business Council, and others you can look up for market specific support

Professional Associations: Is your business supported by a professional association? Many of these are global and can connect you with local market contacts and advice relevant to your profession or industry. Wikipedia has this list of UK Professional Associations to find yours – if you work in manufacturing The Manufacturers Association is a great place to go. There may even be dedicated international organisations such as the British Chinese Law Association.

Image source: Flickr UKTI

Mentoring might seem a bit ‘new-age’ but even Warren Buffet believes in the value of a mentoring. The whole point of a mentor is to connect you with someone who has already trodden the same or similar path you intend to take and offer you their knowledge, expertise, and experience so you can replicate their successes and avoid their failures. At the very least they’ll be someone who understands your highs and lows and can help support you through the process.

How to find one? As part of connecting with any of the organisations above ask if someone can make introductions to a possible mentor – this tends to be done via word of mouth.

Step Four: Research, research, research

“We did lots of research. You can’t assume that what works in the UK will work abroad. For instance, we found that the UK had a large range of PC and internet-based magazines, and we got lots of press coverage. In the US, PC Magazine had a circulation of over one million and dominated the landscape. It was horrendously difficult to get PC Magazine’s attention.” – Chris Barling, CEO of IT provider Actinic (vi)

Knowledge is power. For example never underestimate the cultural differences which may exist even in going in to a country which speaks even the same language – these brands all found out that hard way:

  • The Pepsi campaign that translated “Come Alive With The Pepsi Generation” into Chinese as “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back From The Grave”
  • The GM Nova car that was launched to the Spanish speaking market where “no va” means “It Doesn’t Go”
  • Vacuum cleaner manufacturer Electrolux marketed in America with the slogan “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux”

Image source

While these examples are all giggle worthy it’s staggering how these expensive mistakes could’ve been avoided with some simple upfront research. Even a large multi-national with 100s of people on the ground in the local market can miss business critical information.

Things you’ll want to be confident about before launching in another market are:

  • Is there are a market need for your product and service? You’ll want to use your own insight i.e. existing demand from another country, as well as research local buying needs and behaviours. You’ll also need to find out who local competitors are and what you’re up against in launching alongside them.
  • Can you provide your product or service in another country to the same standard as in the UK? This is going to include everything from knowing there’s local suppliers and pre-scoping the cost of local production, to legal and regulatory knowledge and knowing there’s local human resource available. We’ve also called out the importance of maintaining standards; you need to protect your brand equity and consider that local suppliers may not provide resource that’s either up to scratch or as affordable as it is here.

The organisations you identify in Step 3 will be able to help you with this.

Step Five: Choose a model

“You have to set it up as a separate business model rather than simply take a punt at getting some business from a different part of the world.” – Ray Jones, head of business consulting at RTC North (vii)

There are several ways you can enter a new market; open a subsidiary, acquire or merge with an existing local business, or develop a strategic partnership – this could be through franchising, a joint venture, or licensing, or sourcing a local distributor or provider.

These all have various pros and cons which are unique to both your business and the local market you wish to enter. The research you’ve undertaken should be able to indicate which the best option is – you should not have decided this in advance, in absence of any research.

Once you’ve selected a route to market you can then seek out specific advice on how to execute that model in your local market from the organisations you’ll have sourced in Step 3 and organisations set-up specifically support those activities – for example there is the British Franchise Association for those needing advice on franchising. The International Chamber of Commerce can also assist and provide model contracts you can buy for signing partnership and distributor agreements.

Typically, and this may not be right for you, the first step to doing business overseas is through a distribution deal. You can locate and negotiate with a local distributor yourself or many businesses attend trade fairs where they can showcase their product or service and then are approached by businesses who wish to become their local distributor.

So, you see, once you have selected your preferred model for trading overseas the next steps become a little clearer.

Gift manufacturer Wild and Wolf from Bath is exhibiting at key trade shows across Europe.

In Summary

The economic situation today means that growing your business overseas might not just be great opportunity but could be a necessity in the very near future. And the markets with the most potential could be the ones you least expect – the developing nations.

If your UK growth is plateauing and/or you are experience high demand from overseas, now is the time to explore your options. Make sure you avoid making mistakes and benefit from the help available out there by teaming up with specialists – UKTI will most likely be your first stop.

Good luck out there!

– UK Trade and Investment
– Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
– The IOD
– The International Chamber of Commerce
– UK Export Finance
– The Institute of Export
– The Confederation of British Industry
– The Manufacturers Association
(i) http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2011/08/emerging-vs-developed-economies
(ii) http://blogs.cfr.org/lindsay/2011/08/12/friday-file-the-gop-debate-meets-budget-math/
(iii) http://www.cbi.org.uk/media/1168506/exports_report_a4_final_indd__2_.pdf
(iv) http://www.director.co.uk/MAGAZINE/2011/7_July_Aug/international-trade_64_11.html
(v) UKTI Trade Services Guide 2013
(vi) http://www.smarta.com/advice/suppliers-and-trade/import-and-export/how-i-started-trading-overseas/
(vii) http://www.director.co.uk/MAGAZINE/2011/7_July_Aug/international-trade_64_11.html
Access to funding is often a barrier to small business growth, if you are looking for capital or growth finance, Funding Circle could help.

– See more at: https://www.fundingcircle.com/about-us/our-blog/the-complete-guide-to-growing-your-business-internationally-part-1#sthash.YNe7eZlm.dpuf

Update on the Minimum Bid Rate trial

Last week we introduced a trial of new minimum bid rates by risk band. Prior to this change the minimum interest rate you could bid on a loan auction was 4% across all risk bands. This was increased on 24 June 2013 and you can read our blog post announcing this initial change here.

When deciding to increase the minimum bid rate, we take into consideration a range of factors. These include the cost of alternative borrowing products, the returns available on other investment products, the general economic conditions, protecting investors from bidding rates significantly below the average and the estimated bad debt rates for each risk band.

Since announcing the start of this trial, we have received valuable feedback from investors on the forum, and also through a survey sent out on Friday, which you can see the results of here. Regular feedback from investors and borrowers is crucial to the success of Funding Circle and we’d like to thank everyone who has taken part so far.

Following the feedback we will be adjusting the trial minimum bid rates to the following levels:

A+ risk band: 6.0%

A risk band: 7.0%

B risk band: 8.0%

C risk band: 9.0%

Going forward we are committed to reviewing minimum bid rates on a monthly basis and providing two weeks’ notice of any future changes. This will ensure investors are aware in advance of any changes and there is minimal impact on market behaviour or an individual’s investment experience. Additionally, any future adjustments will be introduced incrementally at a maximum of 0.5% (+ or -) of the existing minimum bid rates across each risk band.

Samir, our CEO, and other team members will be discussing the minimum bid rate trial on the forum, and the rationale behind the decisions we took. If you have specific questions or would like to discuss this in more detail, please post a question and we will be happy to answer.