Paul Smith of The Schooner raises a toast to his business backers Transmit Startups

The UK’s leading provider of Start Up Loans for business is toasting it 6,000th customer – its local pub in Gateshead.

Transmit Startups has invested more than £64 million in new enterprises across the length and breadth of the UK since being set up in 2013 to deliver the Government-backed scheme.

So, it came as something of a surprise to discover its milestone customer is the owner of The Schooner, a pub less than a mile away from its own front door and a favourite destination of the Transmit team.

Paul Smith bought the pub on the banks of the River Tyne in March, fulfilling his dream of owning his own place after 18 years of running The Three Tuns in Gateshead’s Sheriff Hill as a landlord.


He quickly turned the fortunes of the independent free house around, with visitors voting The Schooner number one pub in Gateshead on Tripadvisor thanks to its offering of cask ale, live music, homecooked food and unique riverside location.

The pub immediately adapted to the challenges of the coronavirus – developing a takeaway and delivery service offering favourites from its menu, Sunday lunches and popular two-pint bottles of ale. The £14,000 Start Up Loan will fund kitchen renovations to ensure The Schooner is ready to start an exciting new chapter once lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Paul said: “I’d always really liked the pub so when I found out it the previous owners were ready to move on, I saw it as a perfect opportunity to have my own business rather than just running one for someone else.

“The timing obviously hasn’t been ideal but we haven’t missed a day of trading because of lockdown and it hasn’t dampened my spirits or stopped me from planning the improvements I want to make. With only a few months of trading behind me I wasn’t eligible for a bank loan so started looking elsewhere for financial support and Transmit Startups was recommended to me as an alternative. I couldn’t believe they were just around the corner and my advisor Adam has been fantastic from start to finish.

“We now have all of the equipment and are ready to start our kitchen re-fit as soon as we can bring in contractors. Then we’ll be in a position to really benefit from the investment and to bring more good times to our loyal customers and many new ones.”

Transmit Startups provide fixed-interest loans and high impact mentoring to aspiring entrepreneurs who are struggling to access traditional finance. The loans are available to businesses under two years old.

The company was created by three North East entrepreneurs; Richard Myers, Damian Baetens and Ian Straker, who shared an ambition to help others starting out in the world of business by offering a refreshingly different approach to enterprise support.

Transmit employs 28 people across its head office at Northern Design Centre, Gateshead, its Scottish base in Glasgow and its network of consultants across the UK. It offers funding, consulting, coaching and mentoring services to entrepreneurs throughout their business journey.

Commercial Director Richard Myers said: “As a startup ourselves we understand the challenges of being in business and how important it is to access money and the right support when you need it. Though Paul has plenty of experience of running businesses this is a totally new enterprise and its exactly the kind of situation we are here to support.

“We never lose sight of the fact that every one of our loans represents another person moving towards their goals. It’s especially satisfying to know our 6,000th customer is also a home-grown Gateshead entrepreneur who we can share a celebratory drink with – even if that has to be at a two-metre distance for now.
“Throughout the coronavirus crisis, we’ve continued to see a significant appetite for our Start Up Loans. Not only are people still progressing with their plans to start businesses, some others have used this as an opportunity to consider how their working future might look.”

Paul says he is modelling The Schooner on pubs he loves in the Lake District that offer a warm welcome to families, dogs, walkers and cyclists.

He added: “The Schooner has always been a well-kept secret because it’s hidden from any main roads and is surrounded by trees and the banks of the Tyne. Soon we’ll be ready to share our secret with the rest of the world!”

Richard Bearman, Managing Director at Start Up Loans, said: “Start Up Loans is here to help people like Paul gain access to the funding and support they need to start a business. What he has achieved with The Schooner is commendable and I’m proud Start Up Loans has played a part in helping him and so many others across the country to realise their ambition of business ownership.”