Student support outlet Oncourse is targeting a £360,000 turnover in the next three years, after securing flexible funding in the form of Forward Finance from Bibby Financial Services.
Based in Glasgow, the student magazine and website helps students with the transition period between school and the next steps of their career. Whether students are considering further education, an apprenticeship or taking a gap year, Oncourse is a one-stop-shop for impartial information and guidance for 16-24 year olds.
The business is set to double its turnover in the next three years and aims to build its online offering as its target audience increasingly use the web to search for information.
The business was set up by Alan Hunter in 2011 and has since grown from a magazine to include an online hub and now employs five members of staff to help with sales and accounting. Alan spent seven years working in media but felt that the opportunities available to him when he left school were limited and that there was insufficient support for students in his position to bridge the gap between school and career.
Oncourse is the only magazine sent directly to secondary schools in Scotland, and is distributed straight to students via guidance and support staff within each school.
However, without cashflow to kick-start the business, Alan had no way to cover the cost of printing the magazine before he received payment from advertisers. He researched invoice finance providers online and decided to choose Forward Finance from Bibby Financial Services as he was impressed with the product terms, particularly as he had no existing credit history – a common problem for new start SME owners.
Alan said: “When I started Oncourse I needed a way to cover my overheads before I generated revenue through advertising and this was not an instant process. Forward Finance offers me a quick solution and enables me to fund my business even though I had no previous credit history.
“Using Forward Finance means that I can pay my overheads up front, accelerate my cashflow and grow my business.”
Client services manager at Bibby Financial Services, Louise Ross said: “Oncourse is a fast growing business that offers a vital service to young people that could ultimately affect their future – without the funding support it has received it might not have been able to help as many people as it has. Entrepreneurs and new businesses can find it difficult to secure funding through traditional routes if they have no previous credit history. However flexible forms of funding, such as Forward Finance, are available and we’d encourage anyone looking for funding to shop around and seek advice.
“We take a different approach to some other funders because we visit the business, meet the owner and understand the potential for growth rather than focusing on its past history, which is often non-existent – particularly when it comes to new-start businesses.”