Case Study

Diving head first to success

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MDive Ltd is a commercial diving company based on the Isle of Mull.  The company was set up in December 2013 by Helen Dewar and Murdo Smith establishing their first contract with Scottish Sea Farms.

In July 2014 it became apparent that we needed to purchase a transportation vessel for our divers to enable us to reach customers further afield and to reduce the costs we were incurring relying on Calmac ferry service. We had already secured a business loan of £25k from our bank, however the business was moving so quickly that between applying for the loan and receiving the money into our account our plans had changed significantly.

In order to satisfy demand the vessel we purchased would not only need to be suitable for transportation but should also be large enough to allow us to install all of the necessary diving equipment such as a compressor, a generator etc. We sourced the perfect vessel at a cost of £60k meaning we needed a further £40k.

We knew that as soon as the vessel was purchased it would start earning money straightaway, however as a relatively new company with only seven months of trading under our belt, the bank wouldn’t top up the loan we already had and most lenders wanted to see one year’s accounts before even thinking about it.

All was not lost!

Business Gateway pointed us in the direction of DSL Business Finance and at the end of August 2014 we applied online for a DSL Business Start Up Loan; a loan for new businesses that have been trading for less than 12 months. The application was straightforward and quick. At the beginning of September we were contacted by DSL’s Fund Manager, Sandra who was very helpful and explained that although DSL may not be able to help with the full £40k there were alternative routes of funding we could explore, namely The SJ Noble Trust.

Sandra explained the next step was to present to a panel who would assess whether or not our business plan was viable and whether they were happy for DSL to assist us financially. Sandra provided us with great support on the lead up to the panel presentation, working with us to ensure we had as much detail as possible and the information was clear. Once satisfied with our paperwork, Sandra booked our appointment with the panel.

Preparing for the ‘Dragon’s Den’

The panel of 4 introduced themselves and were all genuinely interested in our business and our plans for the future, which instantly put us at ease (pushing all thoughts of the ‘Dragon’s Den’ far out of our minds). Having already had sight of our paperwork the panel were familiar with our plans and had some questions prepared which we were able to answer without any problem having been fully prepared by Sandra. Within half an hour, the panel was satisfied that they had asked and had all the information they needed. We packed up and got ready to go.


Then, just as we were heading out the door we were called back in and given the fantastic news that our application had been successful and that DSL were willing to lend us the full £40k we had requested through a £20k business loan and a £10k personal loan for each of our two Directors. Within days of returning from Glasgow we had received the relevant paperwork to sign and by very early November the funds were in our account.


‘Without the outstanding service and offer we received from DSL our business would not have experienced the growth and impact that our customers [and we] are currently experiencing. Having tried many other avenues for the funding we required and been unsuccessful, it was a breath of fresh air that DSL were prepared to listen to our proposals, take us seriously and ultimately turn our plans into a reality. The whole process from start to finish was simple and pleasurable and I would encourage any other business to take advantage of the opportunities that DSL are able to offer.’

Helen Dewar

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