A Cullercoats man is on the crest of a wave after securing thousands of pounds to launch his own business venture.
Simon Laing has set up Cullercoats Bike & Kayak thanks to a £12,000 boost through Virgin StartUp.
Residents and visitors are able to rent equipment for anything from one hour to several days to explore the coastline, with Simon also offering guided tours, repairs workshop and coffee area from his premises in Norma Crescent, Cullercoats.
The 29-year-old, previously a marine scientist and who spent time at the Vancouver Aquarium in Canada, got help from Ready for Business – an investment programme delivered by enterprise agency TEDCO Business Support – to get his idea off the ground.
Simon, a keen cyclist and kayaker himself, said: “I did plenty of research into the various start-up programmes but as soon as I spoke to Bill Hartshorne, Ready for Business advisor at TEDCO Business Support, I knew I had found exactly what I was looking for.
“We have some of the most beautiful scenery in this area but unfortunately a lot of it goes unnoticed.
“Cycling and kayaking along the coast will give people a very different perspective on what the region has to offer and hopefully it will not only allow those living here to take a second look at what is on their doorstep but will help bring new visitors in and continue to rejuvenate this once vibrant area.”
Simon has ambitious plans for the future and hopes to diversify into more leisure based activities as well as setting up more Bike & Kayak premises in other locations such as North Shields Fish Quay and South Shields to expand his offering into one-way rental.
Bill Hartshorne said: “Simon has everything that we are looking for in a young entrepreneur; he is passionate about his business and has a genuine love of what he is about to embark upon.
“Starting your own venture requires a huge amount of commitment and dedication and Simon has displayed these qualities through the start-up process which I am confident will equip him well for the challenge that lies ahead.
“He has also given considerable thought as to how his business can grow and this will no doubt create further employment opportunities.
“Securing finance is one of the biggest challenges facing any would-be business owners so for young entrepreneurs like Simon, Virgin StartUp is a vital lifeline to financing which can otherwise be particularly difficult to source.”