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Outset celebrates 300 new Bristol businesses

Outset Bristol is celebrating after helping launch its 300th new business in Bristol.

Prothero Eyewear, the brainchild of local entrepreneur Martin Prothero, became the 300th business to launch with the support of Outset Bristol.

Outset Bristol is recognised as the ‘go-to’ organisation for free and friendly enterprise support in Bristol, available to anyone interested in starting up their own business. As well as helping 300 businesses launch in Bristol, Outset Bristol has given advice and guidance to more than 2,500 people since its launch in November 2010, sowing the seeds of enterprise across the city.

Martin Prothero originally trained as an engineer before going on to practice as an artist, as well as working in environmental education for many years. When a key employment contract ended, leaving him unemployed, Martin decided to seize the opportunity to start his own business, designing and manufacturing high-quality wooden spectacle frames by hand.

“I wanted to create a lifestyle where I made a living from making beautiful things. I wear glasses and found it difficult to find frames made out of natural products, so I decided to make my own wooden spectacle frames.”

When Martin found out about the free business start-up courses offered by Outset Bristol he was keen to get all the help and advice available to him.

“Outset Bristol’s business start-up training was invaluable in helping me start my business. I’m so thrilled to be the 300th business and I would highly recommend the Outset Bristol programme to anyone thinking of starting out on their own.”

As well as attending Outset Bristol’s Business Start Up course, Martin was referred to Outset Bristol’s sister company Outset Finance so that he could secure a £10,000 government-funded Start Up Loan to help with his business start-up costs.

“Outset Finance has given me the financial backing I needed to help me turn my business ideas into a reality. I needed a loan to fund essential manufacturing equipment and the development time for the product. I received guidance on how to put my business plan together and practical support in planning how to take the ideas forward.”

Martin’s beautiful spectacle frames are still in the prototype stage but he has ambitious plans for his new business.

“I want to create highly desirable and beautifully crafted eyewear that connects people to nature. All my products are to be eco-friendly in that they are made of responsibly sourced and recyclable materials. I will start by supplying frames in the UK and plan to do my first European trade shows next year.”

In addition to the support offered in Bristol, the award-winning Outset programme also has successful projects running in Swindon, Plymouth, Torbay, Cornwall and Huntingdonshire, with a new project launched in Bournemouth earlier this year. Collectively, the programmes have helped create over 3,200 businesses and more than 3,500 jobs nationally.

“Martin Prothero is an inspiration to anyone who is thinking about starting their own business and we’re thrilled that he has achieved his dream of becoming his own boss,” says Andy Dean, Programme Director for Outset Bristol. “Our team is dedicated to helping new businesses like his launch and develop; boosting the Bristol economy and helping it grow. Outset will continue to provide Bristolians with the support, skills, confidence and access to finance they need to take the leap into self-employment.”

Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson says: “Thriving small and medium-sized businesses are pivotal to our city region’s economic success and Outset Bristol, which I have witnessed giving great support, plays a vital role in helping them get off the ground and grow. Bristol City Council has been supporting Outset Bristol for several years and we’re thrilled to see another business successfully established as a result.”

To find out more about Prothero Eyewear, email Martin.

For more information on Outset Bristol’s business start-up support book on an information session or call. To find out more about Outset Finance and how you can apply for a Start Up Loan visit or call.

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