13 January 2021
In the wake of government announcing a new round of emergency funding for businesses, AdEPT Technology Group shares the story of one telemarketing company that used a government grant to fund technology that helped it stay resilient through the pandemic.
SMEs looking to bounce back from the pandemic may find some inspiration in the experiences of Blueberry, a telemarketing company that successfully applied for a grant and used the funds for a new telephony system that kept it fully functional through the past six months.
The Leeds-based firm specialises in helping businesses grow – and as such, has a long history of advising companies about business grants, having used such financial support to buy and set up an Avaya voice-over internet protocol (VoIP) system, with the help of AdEPT.
“I honestly don’t think we’d have got through the last six months without the VoIP system in place,” said Blueberry director Faresh Maisuria, who made the application in 2017, focusing on business resilience and growth in his submission.
Faresh applied for a Digital Growth Voucher from Leeds’ Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), was successful, and it was during the pandemic, in a much-welcome good news story, that Blueberry saw the fruits of his labour.
“As a telemarketing company, a phone system is at the heart of what we do,” said Faresh.
“Our business relies on our people being on the phone – so with an older analogue system that was tied to our office, the pandemic and lockdown could have threatened our very existence.”
In making the application and rolling out the new telephone system, Faresh sought the advice and services of AdEPT, whose telecoms expertise and foresight helped ensure the system brought both immediate and long-term benefits. Notably, AdEPT is a vendor agnostic company, but in this instance, an Avaya IP Office system was right for Blueberry – and being an Avaya Diamond Partner, AdEPT ensured Faresh and his colleagues were comfortable and confident about every last detail of the new system.
“With VoIP, we were able to continue business as usual – or as close to it as possible,” explained Faresh.
“By using it, our telemarketing staff could continue their normal roles from home, and the tools and analytics we use to manage our work could continue as usual.
“For example, we record our calls for training purposes – and with VoIP, we could still do this even though our staff were working from home.”
Now, as the government continues to offer financial support to businesses affected by the pandemic, Blueberry and AdEPT are on a mission to help other businesses that might find the application process intimidating or confusing. And although it was a telephone system that brought the two companies together, both Blueberry and AdEPT are keen to point out that the funding schemes are not limited to technology.
“The Business Support Service here in Leeds offers funding for equipment and machinery, for recruiting and employing apprentices, for trading overseas and for help with energy bills,” said Faresh. “Many of these things could be very useful to businesses looking to bounce back after the pandemic.
“What’s interesting about Blueberry is that helping businesses grow isn’t just our unique selling proposition – it’s in our DNA too, because our early years were spent working in the business incubator in Leeds Beckett University,” he said.
“So through that experience, we’ve come to realise that there’s an understandable perception that applying for grants is a long-winded process that takes a long time, and involves lots of complicated forms.
“This couldn’t be further from the truth,” he added. “So long as you can demonstrate that the funding will be used in a way that will grow and strengthen your business – and not just to help keep it ticking over – then you’re well on the way to a successful application.”
The experiences of Blueberry and Faresh form part of AdEPT’s new blog about government grants. But for those businesses looking to apply for funding right now, Faresh has some quick-win pointers…
1. Focus your attention on your Local Enterprise Partnership. There are other bodies out there, but if you’re new to the process of applying for government funding, this is a good place to start.
2. Visit https://www.lepnetwork.net/ and find your local LEP.
3. Study the information on your local LEP website.
4. Don’t be bamboozled by the different names of the schemes. The principle behind all of them is largely the same.
5. Sign up for all the newsletters available. And make sure those emailed newsletters don’t disappear into your junk box.
6. Register your interest for funding schemes as soon as they are announced.
7. When it comes to making your application, make sure you emphasise how the funding could help your business grow and benefit the local economy.
8. If you are unsure about any of this, then get in touch with the LEP business managers – or indeed Faresh himself.
• On 5 January 2021, the government announced that it has made a further £4.6billion in lockdown grants available to businesses, including one-off grants worth up to £9,000 for firms in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors.
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