Barnsley friends overcome obstacles to realise business dreams
15 August 2011
Two creative friends from Barnsley have won funding to turn their business dreams into reality after overcoming a series of obstacles.
Pete Roberts, 26, and Ben Barraclough, 21, met trying out for jobs with the same company after Pete had been made redundant and Ben had struggled at school and college due to dyslexia.
Their shared passion for design led them to decide to set up their own business but there was another setback when, within weeks, Pete’s computer and other business equipment was stolen in a break-in.
The friends pressed on with their plans for Barob Ltd, specialising in branding and HTML5 websites, which are fully compatible with iPhones and iPads.
They have won start-up funding from the Barnsley Business Mine at the University of Huddersfield’s Barnsley Campus (UCB). The grants, worth £2,400, are awarded to promising ventures under the Enterprising Barnsley programme which offers business support to Barnsley businesses with growth potential.
Barob has just moved in to a new office at Barnsley’s Digital Media Centre, in County Way, and is busy with a growing client list.
Pete was employed full-time until two years ago when he lost his management post at a telecommunications company. He enrolled for a degree in art and design at UCB. He later met Ben while both were attending a job interview.
Ben says he struggled to achieve good grades despite being considered intelligent and he later learned that he is dyslexic.
The friends say that each meeting the other has enabled them to unlock their potential and they share a town centre apartment in Barnsley as well as working together.
Ben said: “I’ve discovered I love learning but formal education didn’t work for me because I think in a different way. I’ve turned things around by learning under my own power and Pete and I complement each other in our approach to what we’re doing now.
“There are a number of famous entrepreneurs who have had problems with dyslexia, like Sir Richard Branson, Jamie Oliver and Theo Paphitis, and their stories have really inspired me. I don’t feel like there are now any barriers to achieving great success with our company.”
Pete added: “We’ve got more and more clients coming on board and feedback has been fantastic with new business being generated via word-of-mouth. Clients appreciate that we genuinely care and we’re very adaptable and cost-effective. We’re definitely not a ‘nine-to-five’ business.
“Start-up support from Enterprising Barnsley has made all the difference in getting our plans off the ground, especially since the burglary was just a couple of weeks into the venture. Everything is going well now and we’re very excited about the future.”
The partners have taken on another designer Tom Mitchell, 19, and are looking to recruit a web coder.
To be eligible for the start-up grants, recipients have to be current students at the University of Huddersfield or have graduated from any university within the last five years. Their business must be launched in or around Barnsley and meet certain industry criteria.
In addition, recipients receive one-to-one mentoring from a business advisor and access to a number of workshops and networking events via Barnsley Business Mine.
Enterprising Barnsley is a partnership between UCB, Barnsley Development Agency, Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre.
The programme has attracted £2.89m investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.
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