A County Durham consultancy and software-as-service business is scaling up and creating new jobs with the help of a five-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported By The European Regional Development Fund.

Think Eleven specialises in optimising organisational performance through their expertise in training, competence, compliance and performance management by using its proprietary software system SkillStation to help clients ensure their key staff are fully equipped to do the jobs required of them.

The £50,000 Small Loan Fund investment Think Eleven has secured through regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers is set to support improvements to its business development and sales processes, with at least three new jobs being created as a result.

The Newton Aycliffe-headquartered firm already works with clients right across the UK and also in a range of international markets, including the Middle East, Africa and China.

Well-known North East clients include Siemens and Nifco, while firms such as TechnipFMC Umbilicals, Argos Financial Services and the Chartered Institute of Marketing are also in their current client portfolio.

As part of its ongoing development, Think Eleven has now been accepted onto RTC North’s Scaleup Programme which aims to help businesses within the North East LEP region realise their potential for achieving high levels of growth.

Darren Race, managing director at Think Eleven, says: “Our systems are designed to help clients develop a holistic view of their key staff, and cover personal skills and individual behaviours as well as technical abilities and qualifications.

“This objective approach enables them to identify what ‘good’ looks like for every role and function within their organisation, and means they can develop wider competency strategies which focus both on the business’s immediate needs as well as longer-term issues like talent management and succession planning.

“Enhancing our business development and sales resources and applying what we learn through the RTC Scaleup Programme will help us increase the speed at which we can grow, and we’re expecting to see new clients and more North East jobs following in the future as a result.

“We looked at various options for bringing in the capital we required and the NEL offering was by far the best fit with our needs.  The team invested time getting to know the business and where we want to take it, and the process for bringing the investment in was pretty straightforward.”

Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £50,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.

It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.

Jonathan Armitage, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Think Eleven is moving in a very clear strategic direction which will support its scale-up ambitions and we’re very pleased to be investing in the business’s continuing development.”

The overarching North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.

NEL is also responsible for investing the £18m North East Growth Capital Fund, which offers unsecured investments of up to £500,000 to established businesses looking to realise their growth potential.

For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0345 369 7007.