A family-owned sustainable cleaning business is steaming ahead with the help of a new five-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported by The European Regional Development Fund.

Eco Steam provides a wide range of professional deep cleaning and sanitation services to both domestic and commercial clients across the region using only environmentally friendly cleaning products that don’t contain bleach, ammonia or harmful waste chemicals.

The Newcastle-based firm was founded by married couple Rachael and Temur Kuronbeov, who originally met in Malaysia and moved back to Rachael’s native North East five years ago.

Uzbekistan-born Temur found his allergies flaring up due to the dust in carpets and soft furnishings in the UK, compared to the wooden floors he was used to at home, leading the couple to look for possible solutions to the problem.

A sustainable steam cleaning business that a friend of the couple ran in Malaysia inspired them to identify a gap in the North East market, which then led them both to leave their jobs to set up the company two years ago.

Since then, Eco Steam has built up a client base right across the North East and recently picked up new contracts at The Centre For Life in Newcastle and at Northumbrian Water’s Kielder Lodges.

Rachael and Temur are now looking to accelerate the growth of the business by using a £50,000 Small Loan Fund investment which they obtained through regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers and are using to enhance their business development and marketing activity.

Eco Steam already has two fully-equipped vans on the road, with plans for a third one to follow soon, and is looking to bring in the additional equipment and staff it required to take on more and bigger contracts.

Its services range from carpet and hard floor cleaning, sanitisation and mould removal through to car valeting, upholstery cleaning and deep cleaning in locations including school, medical centres, factories and offices.

The company is about to launch its own app through which its services can be booked and managed, while franchising opportunities are also being considered in the medium term.

Rachael and Temur have worked with a number of North East business support providers as they’ve grown their business, including Sunderland Software City and the Scale Up North East programme.

Rachael Kuronbeov says: “The market-leading equipment we work with use dry steam to clean everything from carpets and upholstery through to factory conveyors and machinery without leaving messy puddles, residue or saturation.

“Water waste is minimal, while the cleaning products we use contain none of the harsh chemicals that are usually required for this sort of work.

“When we did our research, we found that there were no other companies working in this way in the North East, and despite the difficulties of starting the business at the height of the pandemic, we’ve been able to take advantage of this gap in the market to start to build our brand.

“Our focus on sustainability and eco-friendly solutions is also contributing to several clients’ journeys towards their respective Net Zero targets.

“Setting up Eco Steam is the best thing we’ve ever done, and the success we’ve enjoyed so far has given us the freedom and confidence to look towards the next stage of its development.

“Choosing to work with NEL wasn’t just about the growth capital they offer, but it has also opened up access to a wide range of business support which will be vital to us as we continue to grow.”

Mike Guellard, senior investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Necessity is the mother of invention, and in this case, it has helped Rachael and Temur begin to build a business that has a lot more growth potential left to realise.

“Sustainability is one of the North East Fund’s main investment priorities and we’re actively building a portfolio of low carbon businesses across the region that are built around its principles.”

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 £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 £120m 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.