Virgin StartUp of the week: Burnden Park

We love businesses that give back to the community and do something that makes a difference. One such business is our StartUp of the Week, Burnden Park, a state-of-the-art sports facility that allows everyone in the community to enjoy football with a high-quality pitch and equipment. Founders Sam Holden and Ryan Hardwidge started the business with a loan from us, and  are supported by our delivery partners BBV.

We choose one Virgin StartUp company to be featured on each week. We ask our startups of the week to deliver the ultimate elevator pitch. What would they say if they had one minute in a lift with Sir Richard Branson? Please answer the questions below, keeping each answer to five sentences max. 

Ground to floor 1 – Explain what your business does

Burnden park is the most historical football name in Bolton and has left many Boltonians with many happy memories. Our aim is to put it back on the map and develop a state-of-the-art sports facility for everyone in the community to enjoy.

We have access to thousands of children as we are already working in 28 schools per week through our partner companies QFirstSports and Goalz.

Floor 1 to 2 - Where are you based?

Manchester Road, Bolton.

Floor 2 to 3 – What’s the business model?

In Bolton there is a lack of quality 3G astro turf football facilities. Although there are numerous facilities available, these mainly consist of schools' outdoor AstroTurf pitches and indoor sports halls which aren’t always suitable for large groups in all weather conditions. Football plays an enormous part in peoples lives in the town and surrounding areas, as there are over 565 junior teams playing in the local league alone.

We gathered data through primary and secondary style research e.g. questionnaires, interviews, and national and local pre-existing data. Our research showed us that there was an opening in the market for a 3G facility. We found that this is not just nationally, but even more so within the borough of Bolton. Both us founders - Ryan Hardwidge and Sam Holden - are professional football coaches with vast experience working in elite and grassroots football environments. We will provide the children of Bolton the chance to participate in fun football activities and develop as players, as well as people.

Floor 3 to 4 – Who are your competitors?

Our competitors are the other Astroturf facilities within the borough of Bolton.

Floor 4 to 5 – What’s your USP?

Our unique selling point is that for grassroots clubs we will be offering coaching support to all clubs who use Burnden Park. In addition, we will offer something totally new - ‘Futsal rules’ for the 5v5 leagues. This will provide players with an alternative style rather than being able to play off the boards, which creates a more realistic environment for players to play in. As previously mentioned we will also offer student league, as with our location we hope to attract student’s from the university and the local colleges.

Floor 5 to 6 – Where did the idea come from?

The idea came from when myself and Ryan were in Valencia coaching with a club called Athletic Lliria and the facilities there were amazing. From the management staff, day to day running of the club and the 3G pitches, they had everything. It was towards the end of the week, when we were relaxing, that we said "I'd love to have this one day”, and since that point on we decided why not go for it and follow our dreams. So we did…

Floor 6 to 7 – How much funding did you receive from Virgin StartUp?

£22,500 to Sam and £22,500 to Ryan. Total £45,000.

Floor 7 to 8 – How are you going to use it to grow your business?

The money will be spent on paying for the pitch and equipment, from planning permission to signage to equipment. It will also help us get started with marketing.

Floor 8 to 9 – Who’s your Virgin StartUp Mentor?

Sue Gallagher of Cowgill Holloway.

Floor 9 to 10 – What’s your workspace like?

Our workspace is the football pitch!

burnden park

Floor 10 to 11 – where will your business be in 12 month’s time?

12 months from now Burnden Park will be being used to 80% of its maximum capacity and still supporting grassroots clubs and offering unique services and the same style of 5v5 football.

Connect with Burnden Park on Facebook and Twitter.

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