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Get West: Year-round entertainment and team-building

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“It started out as a summer project but then the potential and viability became apparent. Now it’s a full-time job” comments Paul Austin, founder of Get West, summing up the trajectory of his business, that specialises in outdoor activities and team-building.

Paul used to serve in the armed forces, but took a career-break to pursue a master’s degree in project management. It was in the course of writing up his dissertation that Get West came about. Instead of taking a theoretical approach on project management, Paul decided to set up his own project, manage it himself and then base his dissertation on his experience. “It was just intended to be a 3-4 month thing” he adds.

The initial focus was on kayaking and other water-sports in the Irish mid-west (Limerick), offering entertainment for families and groups. The project was a hit, the dissertation went well, and Paul put his heart into making it a viable business. But there was a catch: It was very much a seasonal business, with little happening in the winter months.

To overcome this problem, Paul expanded and bought part of another company that specialised in land-based activities like wall-climbing, hoverball archery and cycling, thus securing business throughout the year. Furthermore, Paul started offering team-building and corporate sessions alongside the family activities and standard entertainment offers.

This expansion clearly came at a cost. To finance his company’s growth, Paul turned to Microfinance Ireland who offered him a loan guaranteed by EIF through the EU’s Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) programme that provides financing to micro-borrowers who want to set up or develop their business.

With this boost, Paul’s summer project was transformed into a fully-fledged business, allowing him to take on a large amount of work, and resulting in full time and part time jobs being created. “Without the loan, I wouldn’t have been able to get into the team-building space or work all year-round” explains Paul. “I went from working alone to hiring 4 full-time employees and around 10 part-timers. We’ve expanded the range of activities that we offer and this is key if we want to keep up with the competition.”

Company: Get West (Ireland)

Type of business: Outdoor entertainment & team-building services

EIF financing: EaSI Guarantee Financial Instrument

Financial intermediary: Microfinance Ireland

For further information about EIF intermediaries in Ireland, please refer to: http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/ie/index.htm

 

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