There's no one typical Virgin StartUp-supported business - our ingenious entrepreneurs span industries and ideas like nobody's business. Today's StartUp of the Week is Discovery Playground, a activity centre for children offering imaginative, educational play experiences. Let's find out more!
1. Explain your business in thirty seconds or less
We are a unique family attraction aimed at children aged 0-11 and their families; a cross between an indoor playground and a science centre. We house the UK’s first walk-in rice pit, fun interactive walls, giant ball run, magnetic marble run, construction zone, plus daily changeable STEM and sensory play features.
2. Where are you based and why is it a good location for your business?
We are based in Hastings, in the heart of the beautiful and historic Old Town. There is nothing else like our business locally. Our aim is to benefit the community and tourists with alternative play.
3. How did you come up with the idea?
I have four children and, at the time of coming up with the idea, two of them were under the age of two. I found that after the morning school run, and alternate nap-times, I had missed all the baby groups and it was time to do the school run again. I felt that there was a need for indoor play, with secure doors, that was open seven days a week – something that would benefit every member of the family of differing ages.
4. What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan?
We were still at the ideas stage!
5. How have you used it to grow your business?
The Start Up Loan basically paid for the internal build and decoration: without it, we could not have opened.
6. Who is your mentor and how have they helped you?
There’s been 3 in total, but the most beneficial was Lisa Harding – she had very sound ideas and was really supportive, especially when I questioned what I was doing! Lisa helped me re-evaluate my cashflow so that it was more realistic and advised on other funding sources to make it all balance out.
7. Biggest achievement so far?
Getting through month one with no financial contingency, plus six staff, many hidden business costs and a delayed opening, which cost us money. We have only been open for six weeks and the feedback has been amazing. Everyone loves what we offer: over 70 people have signed up for annual memberships already, some of whom are returning several times a week.
8. What’s next for your business?
We need to secure funding to sustain our future, so looking at turning into a CIC, as we have many social objectives already. Once funding has been secured, we have many exciting new ideas for discount days, play activities and new interactive walls.
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