An ambitious North East graphic designer is setting out to build a bigger business after securing a five-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported by The European Regional Development Fund.

David Haigh set up Beatnik Studio seven years ago after more than a decade in the North East digital design and creative sectors.

Having initially running the North Tyneside-based business as a one-man band, David decided last year that he wanted to start building it into a full-service design agency with a particular specialism in heritage, culture, the arts and sport.

He worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to bring in a £30,500 investment, which has helped him bring in a web developer as his first employee and which will underpin his growth plans for the business over the coming years.

A further three new jobs are expected to be created by the end of next year, with a longer-term target of building a 12-strong agency team over the next five years.

Beatnik Studio’s client list already includes a wide range of well-known businesses and organisations, including Vertu Motors plc, Northumbria University, the Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation and Headway Arts, as well as England cricketing legend Paul Collingwood.

The business provides the full range of creative and digital services, including web and UX design, app development and branding, and is an official partner of global e-commerce platform Shopify.

Alongside this, it also provides print design, packaging, merchandise and literature design services.

David was introduced to NEL by North East tech sector peer Rob Mitchell, managing director of fellow NEL investee Sugarcoat.

David Haigh says: “I’d planned from the start to eventually grow Beatnik into a bigger agency, and coming out of the pandemic seemed like the right time to start to work towards realising these ambitions.

“Beatnik has succeeded by using the latest technologies to deliver the results that clients want at a lower cost than our competitors, and we’ve built a strong client base that many larger agencies would be proud to have as a result.

“Taking on your first employee is a big landmark for any business, but we’re confident that more colleagues will be joining us soon as we start to build the business into a fully-fledged digital agency.

“The NEL team was really helpful in working with me through the investment application process and put a lot of effort into supporting me through to a successful conclusion.”

Susan Snowdon, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “David has a clear vision for how he wants Beatnik Studio to grow over the coming years and the resources he needs to make this happen, and we’re very pleased to be embarking on this journey with him.”

Part of the £130m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of up to

£100,000 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.

The overarching £130m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 2,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.

NEL Fund Managers is also responsible for managing 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.