An online platform which helps regional business owners find buyers for their companies is set to take its brand nationwide with the help of a new investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported By The European Regional Development Fund.

Founded by well-known North East corporate finance expert Barry Gill, uses a range of social channels to quickly share the details of new businesses for sale and is aimed at the general public, rather than traditional corporate audiences.

The five-figure investment, secured through regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers, will support a redesign and relaunch of the website, along with enhanced marketing and technical resources.

Businesses of any size and in any sector can be advertised on the website, with potential buyers that are already registered with the site being matched with new opportunities as they are added.

The brand has been operating in the North East for the last two years and is now set to expand both right across the UK and also into specific vertical markets, with overseas expansion already in its long-term sights.

Barry Gill says: “While there were already similar platforms which focussed on the corporate market, there wasn’t anything that was properly accessible to the general population and I felt that was a gap in the market on which I could capitalise by taking a disruptive, individualised approach.

“We do things a bit differently when it comes to selling a business online, with each one gets its own targeted package of marketing support, so that we are actively promoting it to people we know might be interested, rather than sitting back and just waiting for buyers to contact us.

“The brand makes it very clear what we’re about and using a range of channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn to share what’s on offer enables us to reach an audience that we know is actively interested in buying a new business.

“We’ve proven that the concept works over the last couple of years, and we’re now aiming to take it nationwide, as well as to sharpen the focus on particular markets where we feel the type of business is especially suitable for this sort of approach.

“There’s also no reason why the concept won’t eventually translate into overseas markets and we’re already laying the foundations for working outside the UK.

“I’ve worked with the NEL team many times over the years, so understand how they’re able to support growing firms’ expansion plans and the process for bringing in the investment was flexible and straightforward.”

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 £50,000 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.

Jane Siddle, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Barry has established a solid brand presence in a lucrative niche market and his proven business model has every opportunity to work successfully on a larger scale.”

The overarching North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.

NEL is also responsible for investing 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.