When we founded The LAB Fund in 2019, none of us expected what was to come the following year. As a result of the pandemic, many local businesses were totally devastated by it’s impact and the knock-on effect to the local economy.
It’s a testament to the leadership, ambition and belief of our city that over 75% of our backers stayed the course, despite these uncertain times. At LAB we believe in supporting self starters. The incredible folk who are prepared to roll up their sleeves and get to work when things get tough.
Curtis Optician’s with Ciaran Murray (July 2019)
In our recent round of awards, LAB were inundated with applications to our £10,000 prize fund. This round, our 4th since LAB began, was divided across 6 categories focused on rewarding ingenuity and hustle during lockdown and on post-pandemic recovery. However such was the quality of submissions, most especially from youth – we created two £250 ‘Bright Future’ awards, increasing total funds awarded to £10,500.
While these entries clearly demonstrated the talent and work ethic in our city, it also shone a light on the lack of financial support for many in our city who had fallen through the cracks.
NEW APPLY BY VIDEO
One of the big changes to LAB, introduced in our most recent round, was changing our entire application process – from written submissions to video submissions. LAB has always aimed to be a simple, no-nonsense funding source. One which cuts out unnecessary bureaucracy and red-tape, instead, leaning into more agile and on-trend ways to connect with entrepreneurs. We simply ask applicants to answer four questions on video and submit that along with some basic information.
To date, we have pledged support to over 30 projects and businesses in and around the city. Raising a total of over £40,000. Monthly support from our backers of £20.24 until 2024 has allowed us to get funds on the ground to support what we (and our judges) believe to be the most deserving entities.
One of the first recipients of our ‘Ambition Award’ from The LAB Fund was ARC Fitness – Addiction Recovery Coaching who received £1500 to help those in addiction recovery and improve their mindset through fitness.Since then, Gary and his team have moved from strength to strength and scaled ARC Fitness to the incredible service that it is today.
Additionally, one of our members, Learning Pool recently announced a 3 year sponsorship deal with ARC Fitness – Addiction Recovery Coaching that will enable more people to get assistance with their recovery.
Independent Derry received our ‘Belief Award’ of £750 to help promote locally owned businesses and fund the creation of a fully digital loyalty card for independent traders in the city.
The NEW Independent Derry Card can now be purchased within the app. Simply download/update their app, buy your digital membership & your animated card will activate on the app for 1 whole year.
Allowing you to access rewards at 70+ small businesses citywide, with a list that is continuously growing
Jenna and her husband, Daniel are the force behind Devine Scents. They received £750 from our Belief Award to grow their business from a home business to begin renting their own dedicated premises to operate from. We recently spoke to them and discovered they are consistently selling out and moving from strength to strength every week, becoming a firm favourite in local households!
Storefront is a streetwear/skate-wear store, brand and community comprised of 4 young, driven entrepreneurs from many different backgrounds with a shared vision.
In February 2020, LAB awarded them a ‘Belief Award’ of £750 to help them further develop their brand. Since then, they have moved to their new premises on Waterloo Street. They used the funding to set up their shop infrastructure to create a space which encourages others to be themselves.
Other awardees include; Ciaran Irvine (3D Printer), Highlight PR, Merchmatic, Reality Check Media, The Bridge of Peace & Love, Imagine Derry Design Competition, Startacus, The PPP, Little Acorn Bookstore, Think Network, La Tia Juana, Ferry Clever, B&CO Care, Pigs Ear Event Styling, Reevah, Bennigan’s Film Club, Derry Footage, Con Eire, Ethan Diver (Sound Engineer), The Young Artiste and So Good Juice.
How You Can Get Involved
We know that brighter days are ahead of all of us. With the support of the people, businesses and diaspora of our city. We know that we can continue to grow the LAB Fund, enabling our incredible talent to begin their journey to BIG things.
If you are in a position to help, please sign up now at https://lab.yourderry.co/join-us/ for £20.24 per month until 2024. If you want to subscribe to our socials, you can find us on Facebook and Instagram for updates on the ventures we support and those backing us to do so.