Case Studies


KRYSTAL is a start-up footwear eCommerce platform established in July 2021, operating from the East Midlands with a global presence. Designing trainers, which are art-inspired by the renowned masterpiece artworks of Claude Monet, Gustav Klimt and Kazimir Malevich, which are handcrafted by master Italian artisans.

The growth of the virtual world and digital marketing meant that the business was aware of the importance of amplifying and maintaining its online presence in order to attract customers worldwide. In particular, KRYSTAL wanted to create a strong brand with cruelty free and environmentally friendly values that would resonate with their target market and help influence the purchasing choices of mankind. They attended several D2N2 Growth Hub webinars and action planning workshops on social media marketing, branding, website development and email marketing. These provided the perfect vehicle for the business to become knowledgeable on what might be possible, given the challenges of the Covid pandemic and launching a new business. D2N2 advisers also offered useful tips and know-how for positioning and promoting the business differently Post-Covid, using social media channels such as Pinterest and Instagram.

D2N2 has given KRYSTAL the opportunity to create a personal branding that is powerful and effective; the consultants during the master classes communicated that the right question to ask is "Are you sure that the way you see yourself, is the way others see you?" In other words that the crux is not the Industry sector, but the marketing strategy with which you relate to your customers and empathise with them, sharing their similar values. Due to lockdown, and with businesses yet to return to pre-pandemic work conditions, we were fortunate to receive free advice online through various D2N2 webinars, and the business information on their website is invaluable.

Lola Adefope, KRYSTAL by Lola

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Derbyshire Vintage Crockery Hire

Derbyshire Vintage Crockery Hire was established in August 2018 and operates throughout the East Midlands hiring out beautiful vintage afternoon/high tea party crockery and accessories. The crockery can be hired for many different occasions including weddings, birthdays, hen parties, baby showers and more.

Due to the significant changes that affected the hospitality and events sector during the Covid pandemic , the business needed to take some time to review their ‘offering’ – looking for other opportunities to continue to trade within the rules and therefore contacted the D2N2 Growth Hub for support. The D2N2 marketing and advertising online webinars provided the perfect vehicle to ‘sit back and reflect’ on what might be possible given the constraints and to gain very useful tips for positioning and promoting the business differently and using different channels e.g LinkedIn and Instagram. As an outcome the business has created packages and marketing materials to cater for the more ‘intimate’ occasions which were still allowed to take place during the Pandemic. In addition, Derbyshire Vintage Crockery Hire are now able to be more flexible in their offering and price to enable each event’s needs to be fully met by amending the ratios of items offered.

Due to the pandemic it has been a very challenging period for the events and hospitality sector and to be given the opportunity to continue to network and receive advice online through the various D2N2 webinars has been invaluable. This support has provided a range of benefits - a ‘pick me up’ when things looked bleak, the ‘push’/motivation to continue, an opportunity to network with others in both similar and different sectors and, importantly, a number of concrete and practical actions which will benefit my business into the future.

Helen Bishop, Derbyshire Vintage Crockery Hire

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RB5 Personal Training

RB5 is a personal training business that creates individualized training programs for each one of its members. RB5 provides people with the knowledge, skills and confidence to be able to take control of their own health and fitness by integrating training into their lifestyle. The business prides itself in offering a personalized approach that many corporate high street gyms cannot.

Due to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, RB5 have had to make several adaptions to their business model in order to remain accessible to members during Covid-19 lockdowns. This has included the creation of an online training platform allowing members access simultaneously from multiple locations and devices, which was implemented in just 2 days. Throughout the implementation of this new technology the D2N2 Growth Hub was able to offer the support of an expert business adviser to help guide the RB5 team in decision making and the strategic direction of the business. The Growth Hub has also been able to support the business in upskilling the team through the comprehensive webinar programme. Several webinars were attended covering digital marketing, business planning and strategy.

The support we have received from the Growth Hub has helped us upskill our trainers quickly. It has given us the confidence to take advantage of the opportunity to pause and reflect on the current situation and adapt our plans for the future. It has been a great experience to be able to connect with other business leaders and discuss common problems and issues within vastly differing industries and come out with common solutions which can help us all.

Ricky Berry, RB5 Owner

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Nottingham Writers’ Studio

Established in 2007, Nottingham Writers’ Studio is a home for writers and creatives based in Hockley, Nottingham. They offer workshops, courses, discounted coworking, and networking opportunities, and also encourage members to become tutors themselves, getting paid to lead sessions in their area of expertise.

Over the past two years while the business worked towards a new business model and rebranding, the Growth Hub has provided Nottingham Writers’ Studio with a wealth of valuable resources. The first by encouraging the business to diversify and think of themselves as a business as well as a community interest company. The Growth Hub supported Nottingham Writers’ Studio in learning about funding resources to enable growth. The business was also introduced to fellow creative organisations that shared an equal passion for community work, helping them to network with talented individuals that signpost to new opportunities and developments for both the business and its members.

The Growth Hub has helped us to move to a position where we are able to grow. Our attendance at the various marketing webinars and support through a mentoring programme, has given us focus and guidance to develop our business plan and put it into practice. We have also benefited from the support received due to the lockdown and the much-welcomed Covid grants that we were signposted to.

Thom, Nottingham Writer's’ Studio

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Viridis Building Services - D2N2 UpScaler

Viridis Building Services is a design and engineering consultancy which specialises in ensuring that buildings and their mechanical and electrical systems are net zero and as environmentally friendly as possible.

Lee Marshall, Viridis’ managing director, engaged with UpScaler because he was struggling to recruit engineers with the right levels of skills and expertise to help take the business forward. He wanted to ensure that the business was doing everything it could to attract, retain and develop the right people and invest in its team to help it achieve its growth objectives. UpScaler and Nottingham Trent University funded a business diagnostic and several hours of one-to-one coaching for Lee, who also attended several workshops on subjects including HR, culture and marketing. Following the workshops and mentoring support, the business has invested in a rebrand and a new website, to better showcase its services, brand and values to potential clients.

The support we’ve received from UpScaler has allowed us to focus on some key areas to help take the business forward, including giving our marketing a complete overhaul and implementing a holiday policy designed to boost staff morale and help our people feel happier at work.

Lee Marshall, Viridis Building Services

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Upperton Pharma Solutions - D2N2 UpScaler

Upperton Pharma Solutions is a contract development and manufacturing organisation with more than twenty years’ experience in the development of dosage forms to the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.

While the Upperton team possess a huge amount of scientific knowledge and technical skill, it needed support to help it get the right business and management structures in place to continue its growth trajectory and exploit new markets and opportunities. Dr Laura Mason, Upperton’s director of business operations, attended several UpScaler workshops, including performance management, HR, and finance, to expand her knowledge of these key areas. The workshops have enabled Dr Mason and her team to implement a number of changes within the business, including putting in place a structure for staff performance reviews, and other team-building initiatives. 

The UpScaler events were great. As a business, we have a lot of scientific and technical knowledge, which was fine when we were a small team, but as we grew, we needed to improve on the business management and operations side of things. They were ideal for a small business like ours which was growing but needed a better understanding of how to manage that growth in the right way.

Dr Laura Mason, Upperton Pharma Solutions

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TTK Confectionery - D2N2 UpScaler

TTK Confectionery is a family business, based in Nottingham, which specialises in new product development and the design of packaging, confectionery and gifts for high street retailers.

The business had experienced rapid growth since it was founded in March 2017. Its turnover was £2.5m in 2019/20, and at three years old, the company was growing so fast that it needed help to manage that growth sustainably. TTK’s three directors attended peer forums and workshops organised by UpScaler, which covered subjects including structured growth, strategic leadership, marketing, planning and performance management. Katie Gilbert, Head of Product Development, benefitted from being signposted to the Women in Leadership programme at the Nottingham Business School. The business also received a graduate talent grant which enabled them to recruit for a product development role. 

I was always made to feel welcome, confident and comfortable whenever I dealt with UpScaler. Mixing and networking are encouraged, but it’s not a stuffy networking group, it’s definitely more for free-flowing ideas and sharing suggestions. It’s very much run for the benefit of the participants, not to big up the organisation

Jess Barnett, TTK Confectionery

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Delta Swan

Delta Swan is a Customer Experience Consultancy, supporting SMEs and small corporates as they learn more about their customers, adapt to meet customer needs and deliver the benefits enjoyed by all businesses that manage customer experience.

The business needed support from the Growth Hub in upskilling on topics in order to help the business grow. With the knowledge that the Growth Hub has on the needs of SMEs, this was provided by the comprehensive webinar programme. As such, Michelle from Delta Swan attended the Women in Leadership webinar series covering key leadership techniques. The business also attended a digital marketing session on how to use LinkedIn ads to attract new clients.

D2N2 has helped me by recognising the needs of small and new businesses to create fabulous webinars which have helped me with marketing, networking and a myriad of IT related subjects

Michelle Spaul, Delta Swan

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Rebel Recruitment - D2N2 UpScaler

Rebel Recruiters is a Nottingham-based recruitment consultancy specialising in the technology sector. It works with a diverse range of clients to source and place highly skilled candidates in a wide range of tech-based roles.

The company was founded in 2015 and underwent rapid growth between 2016 and 2018, but that growth hit a plateau in 2018. Therefore, managing director Azar Hussain contacted the D2N2 UpScaler Project for support in business planning and developing and defining the processes it needed to achieve its growth ambitions. Rebel Recruiters received ongoing support from an UpScaler business adviser, having conducted a diagnostic. Azar and his team also attended workshops on a host of subjects, including people and culture, finance, leadership and management, and business strategy. UpScaler also provided financial support through the programme’s graduate talent grant. As a result of this, the company has been able to adopt a host of new processes. It has worked to refine the company values and culture. In addition to that it has moved to new offices to enable further growth. 

As a small business owner, it can sometimes be difficult to get your head above water. The support from UpScaler has given me the confidence to take a step back and really focus on the things that will help the business grow and become more resilient. As well as the practical support we have received, it’s been great to be part of a peer-to-peer community where we can talk about the issues we are facing and share tips and ideas.

Azar Hussain, Managing Director, Rebel Recruiters

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Slõ Drinks - D2N2 UpScaler

Slõ Drinks develops and manufactures a wide range of nutritional products for people with Dysphagia, a medical condition which causes swallowing difficulties. Its products change the consistency of drinks to make them safer to swallow.

Since their launch in 2005 the business have achieved steady organic growth. They engaged with UpScaler for support to take their growth to the next level and launch into 11 new markets around the world. Founder, Mathew Done, worked closely with a Nottingham Trent University funded UpScaler mentor to look at several areas of the business and explore different ways of expanding internationally. Mathew also attended a host of UpScaler workshops, looking at subjects including HR, finance and marketing. As a result of UpScaler's intervention Slõ Drinks are currently gearing up to launch a franchise based model to license its products for use in other countries. The company has streamlined and simplified many of its processes, as well as introducing a new marketing strategy.

The support we’ve received from UpScaler has given us the confidence to think about things from a different perspective, set some bigger goals and then go for them. I was looking for knowledge and skills to take a small company and grow it overseas. If it hadn’t been for UpScaler, I would have had to buy this expertise in. The support has been fantastic and has enabled us to take the business in a completely new direction.

Mathew Done, Managing Director, Slõ Drinks

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Boost Wellbeing

Boost Wellbeing were looking for impartial and trusted business support to help them cut through the information overload and outdated information in the public domain. This support was provided through access to the Growth Hub’s comprehensive webinar and workshop programme which is delivered by expert business consultants, enabling them to upskill. The business was also put in touch with a dedicated business adviser and signposted to grant funding opportunities.

It feels like the “covid-thaw” is finally here, just as spring is starting to show itself! The world feels that little bit more certain and although there will be challenges in the New Normal, I’m feeling positive about the coming year. More people than ever have realised the value of looking after their wellbeing and resilience, and we will be there for anyone that would like to make use of our expert knowledge with a free consultation. Knowing that D2N2 is there to support local businesses (including mine) leaves me feeling grateful and reassured, and we will continue to access the invaluable knowledge that’s available from them.

Chris Downes, Director at Boost Wellbeing

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Paguro Ltd

Paguro Upcycle specialise in upcycled bags, jewellery and accessories made from recycled materials such as inner tubes, army tents, seat belts, and bike chains. The business works with small artisanal producers and each product is ethically and sustainably handmade.

The business owner, Yen Goo , was looking to grow the business by improving online sales and therefore found out about the Growth Hub through the comprehensive webinar programme. Yen attended several Growth Hub webinars on digital marketing such as: How to have greater impact using social media and Instagram shopping: turn social media into e-commerce. This enabled the business to grow their online presence and turn that into sales. 

I would highly recommend the webinars provided by D2N2. The topics are very current and the speakers are very helpful. It was particularly important for me to realise what I could realistically do myself and where I needed some outside support, helping me to invest our marketing budget wisely.

Yen Goo, Paguro

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