Entrepreneur Ian Straker knows all about the stresses, strains and rewards of running a successful business. In 2005 he launched Kahua Music, which began life as a record store in Middlesbrough and developed into a music strategy company delivering consultancy-style advice to wannabe stars looking to promote their records.
Ian also worked on various other business consultancy projects with Damian Baetens and Richard Myers, two entrepreneurs who also have experience of running their own companies. Between the three of them, they spotted a gap in the market for a company that could provide support to fledgling business start-ups.
Transmit Start-Ups was born in 2013 with the primary purpose of delivering the Government’s Start-Up Loans programme. Providing finance, support and mentoring to new and experienced entrepreneurs, the company works with hundreds of people each year and receives up to 600 loan applications each month. So far it has provided more than £10m of loans to 1,200-plus entrepreneurs across England and Scotland.
While all three directors have had past experience of running a business, they haven’t been afraid to ask for outside help and when Ian became of aware of the Captured programme, he was happy to sign up and give it a go.
He said: “The programme offered me the chance to think about different ways of growing the business. I’m working with Steve McNicol, a partner at law firm Muckle, and he has been great at providing management advice. He has given me some great tips on how to deal with staff, successfully grow a team and improve business processes.
“Having an external perspective has been really useful for me. It has taught me the value of stepping away from the business from time to time. I’m always in there fixing things whereas I need to step back at times and take a fresh look at the business.
“Could we be doing something better or differently? Are we getting the most out of our staff and if not, how can we change things? Have we got the right processes in place to grow the business? These are questions that you don’t ask when you’re busy running the business – but really you should.”
As well as running Transmit Start-Ups, Ian still makes time for Kahua Music and another business venture, Lost My Dog Records, an independent record label that works with some of the industry’s most successful artists.
“Music has always been a huge passion of mine,” he said. “I probably spent more time at university following music-related pursuits – DJ-ing, clubbing, hosting a radio show, helping in the local record shop and organising events – than I did studying so the thought of being able to make a living from doing what I enjoy most was always very appealing. Today, I get a real buzz out of helping other entrepreneurs through Transmit Start-Ups so you could say my businesses are also my hobby.”
For further information on Transmit Start-Ups, visit http://www.transmitstartups.co.uk/.