A new company is aiming to make a big noise in the audio market and create up to 20 jobs from a base in east Kent with the help of advice from Locate in Kent, the county’s investment promotion agency.
Founded by Darren Hollands, Sonic Concept designs and manufactures mid to high-end audio speakers and integrated amplifiers for the home and professional market.
The business launched from a unit in Rowe’s Yard, Manston Business Park, in July, with the help of a £150,000 SUCCESS grant, funded from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund covering Thanet, having been alerted to the availability of the funding by Locate in Kent.
With six months of design and development work ahead before releasing its products to market, the company has a team of four, including Darren, with a fifth joining at the end of August and plans to expand to 20 over the next three years.
“I’m from Kent and we were looking for factory units in the county that had an area that we could use for design, as well as manufacturing bays,” said Darren “I was finding it frustrating and as I knew Chris Broom from Locate in Kent I gave him a call to see if he could help.”
It was Chris who suggested Darren apply for a grant from the South East Urban Coast Creative Enterprise Support Scheme (SUCCESS), which supports new or expanding creative SME’s who wish to create jobs in the district and have match funding.
“If it wasn’t for Chris, I wouldn’t have known about the scheme and we wouldn’t have been able to start up the business,” said Darren.
“I was able to match the £150,000 grant with my own money and loans from family, and that has allowed us to start developing products and to buy a company called O’hEocha which, although technically still trading, had been dormant for a couple of years.
“That has been important, as having an established brand name with a history and product range has opened doors to specialist suppliers and potential high street retailers and has given us a really positive start.”
Locate in Kent also helped identify the Rowe’s Yard unit where the start-up team is busy developing new products, updating those bought from O’hEocha, and developing a range including a streaming unit that allows for downloaded music to be streamed directly to speakers.
“The premises are perfect,” said Darren. “They are new, very clean and smart and ideal for the image we are looking to project to suppliers and customers. We are really keen to identify local suppliers as I am a huge advocate of keeping business as local as possible.”
Paul Wookey, Chief Executive of Locate in Kent, said the range of financial support schemes across the county had made it an even more attractive location for businesses looking to launch or expand.
“All the statistics and feedback we have show that businesses from the UK and beyond are increasingly aware that much of Kent and Medway is covered by Regional Growth Fund support. There are various schemes that support companies of all sizes and at all stages of their development and which are looking to grow and create jobs,” he said.
“Sonic Concept is a prime example of a company whose start-up has been made possible by one of those schemes, launching in an area where investment and growth is helping transform the economic landscape.”
To find out more about Sonic Concept, visit www.sonicconcept.com.
To find out how Locate in Kent can help you grow or set up in Kent, visit www.locateinkent.com.
To find out more about SUCCESS visit www.success-creative-fund.biz