How to fund your business idea with Virgin StartUp

Funding businesses is our thing at Virgin StartUp – we can’t get enough of it. But it’s a bit more complicated than rocking up at the offices and asking us for some cash.  First you have to explain your idea and show us why it’s going to be a success. Here’s a simple guide to how to fund your business with Virgin StartUp.

Show us it can work

It all starts with an idea – that lightbulb moment that struck you at the supermarket, while lying in bed, or whilst walking down the street. That idea you can’t stop thinking about.

We want to fund your business and it’s easier for us to do so if you can show us evidence your idea is going to work. Our attitude is when we first meet your ideas is yes - we’re not looking for a reason to say no. We just need some proof your business is onto a winner.

So validate your idea through surveys, building a following on social media or blogging. Prove to us you can generate demand. This doesn’t have to be huge. Start small and then get the funding from us to grow it out. Do your research, build a prototype, whatever it takes. Don’t wait for the fundig and a mentor to get started; get going on your own and it’ll make it easier for us to get you your loan.

Are we right for each other?

If you’re looking for a mentor, and if you need under £25,000 to get the ball rolling, you might just be perfect for Virgin StartUp.

We can help businesses from all backgrounds and all industries – from plumbers and builders to café owners, from those who dream of running their own agency to those working from home when the kids are napping. Your business might already have launched, but you’re still in that crucial first year and need an extra boost. You might already have a business but you need help to start your second (or third). Or you might have no business experience and no clue where to start first – but have an outstanding idea.

Register with us

The next step is registering for a loan. You’ll tell us a bit more about your business idea, a bit more about yourself, and tell us the amount of money you need to get your business off the ground. Then your registration heads off into the internet, you receive a confirmation email, and you hold tight – someone will contact you within a few days to talk in more depth about where you are with your business idea, and tell you the next steps.

Workshop time

Most likely, you’ll be booked into a workshop with other Virgin StartUp loan applicants. This workshop is a chance to mingle with other entrepreneurs, but more importantly it’s where you’ll learn more about how to create a fantastic business plan and a financial forecast. These two elements are the crucial parts of your business proposal.

These workshops take either half a day or a full day, and will include talks from the Virgin StartUp team and advice from our business advisors. You’ll be walked through how to complete the Virgin StartUp business plan and financial forecasts. You’ll also get to hear what other people are working on and see first-hand the wide range of businesses we fund.

Do your forecasting

Financial forecasting takes into account expenses, both one-off and ongoing, and your cashflow. Will you have any income coming in? When will your product start generating income? What is the minimum amount you can live on while you build up your business?

Forecasting gets you thinking about the super important parts of your business, forcing you to assess the nitty-gritty – such as how your supplier costs stack up, and therefore how you price your product to make it profitable, or where’s the best location for your business and what kind of premises you can afford. You’ll find quickly that it’s relevant to every part of how your business operates.

Complete and submit business plan

The Virgin StartUp business plan template has been created especially for those applying for our loans. All you have to do is go through and answer the questions. If you already have a business plan, fit it into this format; this plan contains everything that the loan approval panel need to know, and will ensure that your application goes through as smoothly and as quickly as possible. You’ll also need to provide us with some documents at the same time, such as a scan of your passport and the last three months of your bank statement. If you have existing loans or past (or present) financial problems, these will also need to be disclosed. They won’t necessarily put you out of the game; not disclosing could.

Then, when all’s filled out, it’s time to return your application and the appropriate documents to us, and wait for the next steps to happen.

Get approved

It might take a few weeks for your application to be processed. It will go to the approval panel, and you’ll either be told “Yes” – at which point you should see the money soon – or you’ll be told your application needs more work.

Once your loan is approved and the money is released, you will need to “draw down” your loan – this is basically collecting it. Once you’ve drawn down, you’ll be matched with your very own Virgin StartUp mentor. Read about how we match you with your mentor. We’re really proud of our mentors - all of them are experts in their field and commit to two hours of face to face meetings for the first three months, and then hourly per month for the remainder of the first year.