Conquering the crowd

Conquering the crowd

John Loveday is expecting to see Spearhead Compliance Training grow by 1,200% next year after the firm raised over £109,000 from its latest crowdfunding campaign. He tells BQ more about the company’s ambitious growth plans…

If you’re an avid reader of BQ magazine, no doubt you’ve already read the story of John Loveday and his Birmingham-based training firm Spearhead Compliance Training.

Launched just over two years ago, the company was setup by soldier turned entrepreneur John Loveday and his business partner Paul Hood.

John left the military in 2010 and like many others who have served their country, found himself with great transferrable skills that he was sure would help him find work elsewhere.

Upon his return home, he found that despite the skills he had gained he didn’t actually have any formal civilian recognised qualifications to help him find employment.

After seeking support from a number of recruitment firms and agencies, he continued to struggle to find work. This led to the launch of Spearhead.

"I had just returned from fighting in Afghanistan for the British Army where I was sadly injured in a bomb blast," said John.

"I didn't realise until I returned home and tried to find employment that I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"The lack of employment dragged me down and finally I walked into the organisation Pertemps People Development Group.

"PPDG then placed me on various accredited courses and I became a freelance trainer teaching first aid. I gained employment and got through the PTSD.

"I met Paul during work as a bodyguard at a UK festival and Paul mentioned he was due to attend a comprehensive course to become a freelance trainer.

"Paul attended the course and called me to ask if I would be interested in starting our own company that could deliver training to a better standard. The rest, as they say, is history."

Setting up the business in 2014, the duo were accepted onto the Entrepreneurial Spark programme run by NatWest and KPMG and joined its Birmingham hatchery.

Whilst taking part in the programme, the duo received one-to-one mentoring and business support to help them turn their idea into a scalable business.

The programme proved a huge success and the duo started to see business fly in – securing deals with companies up and down the country from a range of sectors.

However, their big break was still to come. Steve Smith, who sold his Poundland business for £50m, came calling.

He invited them to his Kidderminster home, liked the cuts of their jibs, then did the unimaginable by opening his list of contacts.

From here, the duo went on to secure deals with the likes of the West Midlands Safari Park, David Lloyd Leisure, Poundworld and The Range, the massive retailer with 107 stores throughout Britain employing 8,500 staff.

A year on, the company are now heading into their third year in business and are set for their best year yet.

John said: "In the last 12 months we turned over £123,000 and the projections for the next 12 months will see us increase that by 1,200%.

"We have since secured contracts and partnerships that will see us deliver training to organisations such as Google, Virgin Media, Amazon and Sky TV. We are also in final talks with retailers Hotel Chocolat and Claire's Accessories."

Having already secured £11m worth of contracts and grown their team with six members of staff, the duo were determined to continue growing the business.

This led to John and Paul launching an ambitious crowdfunding campaign via Seedrs to try and raise £93,000 late last year.

In just under a month, the duo have beaten their target and successfully raised over £109,000, 118% of their initial target.

He added: "We wanted to raise money to accelerate the growth of our new website however the reason for crowdfunding was to really get the crowd behind us.

"We wanted a way of thanking everyone that has helped us reach the position we are at now. Also you never know who you will gain as an investor and the value they can add to the business.

"We had heard great things about crowdfunding and realised the exposure it gives the business is great, along with gaining investors that can bring value.

"We have welcomed over 140 investors and four of those investors have already helped the business a huge amount. This included access to their full-time marketing team and introductions to large blue chip companies."

Looking forward, the duo are now looking to grow their product offering and continue growing their turnover with plans to expand not just at home but also overseas.

John concluded: "We are now aiming to grow our online elearning website and also start the development of augmented virtual reality training. We are also looking to expand into India and the Middle East.

"Our overall goal is to become the UK's largest and most successful training company in the next three to five years and also look to exit the business in this time frame. We have lots of exciting contracts and plans for the next 12 months and beyond.

"We expect to have a strong market share in most sectors and be delivering training to global organisations."