A NORTH-EAST provider of startup loans for business is toasting its 6,000th customer – which happens to be its local pub.

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

The 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.

Mr Smith 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.

“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.

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 it's 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.”