Nudl puts the fun into funding

A newly-launched North East company is aiming to shake up business support services by simplifying the world of funding and has already enabled the creation of at least 130 jobs in the Tees Valley.

Middlesbrough-based Nudl has been set up by growth guru Shak Asghar, who has more than 15 years of experience in the industry, to help firms across the country access the support they need to grow.

He said: “Having worked in the fund management field for many years, it became clear to me that many businesses weren’t accessing the support and resources available to them.

“I know from experience that funding in general is not exactly a straightforward subject matter – which is where the idea of Nudl came from.

“We want to make accessing finance as simple and painless as possible for our clients, as well as augmenting their growth with the other services we offer. Our aim is to simplify the funding landscape and ultimately make growing a business easier.”

Thanks to existing networks, even before it has officially launched, Nudl has worked with clients from a diverse range of sectors, generating £2.3m in investment value and £1.3m of grant funding, all of which will facilitate 130 new jobs in the Tees Valley alone.

However, Shak has ambitious plans for the next five years, including adding further services to the firm’s offering.

He said: “We see Nudl becoming the industry gold standard for providing growth services. For example, if someone thinks, I need money to help me grow, they’ll automatically think of using their Nudl.

“We also have plans to expand out into other activities, such as regeneration, events and contract management.

“I’d also like to add other services to the Nudl umbrella, such as sales consulting and outsourcing, where we will innovative and disrupt by introducing some really cool technology to the market.”

Shak developed the concept of Nudl during the coronavirus pandemic, having seen the effects of the pandemic on businesses of all sizes and across all industries.

He said: “In the current climate, with so much negativity, I wanted to bring some joy to the business landscape and show people that they don’t have to be fearful of growing or starting up – there’s always someone there to help.

“I’m really excited by all the possibilities; on a more personal level, I love helping people, so what Nudl is doing ticks that box.

“I’m always looking to do things differently, and I want to show that it’s possible to have fun while also doing an important job, and all people need to do is use their Nudl!.”

No matter your industry, or how successful your business is, you could always do with more support – especially when it comes to capital.

But what funding options are available, and how do you know which is right for you?

From angel investors to borrowing from family and friends, there are a range of possibilities, but what will work for one business won’t for another, as Shak Asghar, of Teesside-based Nudl, explains.

“The funding landscape can be tricky to navigate, especially if you don’t know where to look,” he says.

“So many business owners highlight cashflow as one of their key concerns, and many of them don’t realise there are more options out there than simply going cap in hand to the bank.

“Having worked in the business support/fund management space for many years, I became aware that businesses simply weren’t able to access a lot of the funding opportunities out there, as it’s shrouded in red tape and jargon.”

In fact, it was this frustration with the current offering that led Shak to set up Nudl, with the aim of simplifying funding for any and all businesses.

It’s worth noting that investment and funding are not the same thing – although Nudl offers access to both.

Funding tends to be more centralised, consisting of grants from companies or local authorities for a specific purpose. Investments, meanwhile, are a more personal endeavour, with a judgment being made on whether the business is, to put in bluntly, worth it.

Shak explains: “While both have their merits – a large cash injection being the main one – it’s important to weigh up which option will work best for your business.

“Grants are great; it’s free money and you don’t have to pay it back. However, it will generally be limited, both in terms of how long it will last for and what you can spend it on.

“And while you’ve more chance of winning another grant once you’ve been awarded one, you can’t count on it, which means that you could find yourself in trouble if you’re relying on it to keep your business afloat.”

Investment options come in three main categories; private equity, where individuals or privately-owned institutions buy a company or fund a project; venture capital, which is designed to fund start-up companies with high growth potential; and angel investments, where high net worth individuals look for high returns through private investments in startups.

As Shak explains: “The key thing with all the above options is how involved you want the investor to be; do you just want the money, or do you want advice as well?

“Like any relationship, you need to know what they’re expecting from you, and vice versa. You also need to do your due diligence – do they really have what you need, whether that be in terms of capital or commitment?”

The Nudl team have more than 30 years of experience in guiding firms through the funding minefield and have secured more than £100m of capital for clients through a variety of sources.

It has also recently launched its own angel investment fund – one of the first businesses on Teesside to offer such a service.

“I want to put the fun into funding,” explains Shak. “Over the next few years, if someone thinks they need money to help their business grow, I want to make sure they automatically think of using their Nudl.”

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