Go Beyond Challenge runs amazing sporting events for amazing people. They provide a platform for participants of different fitness levels and abilities to push themselves to new limits, supported by people who have done the same. Led by former infantry soldier and ultra-marathon runner Simon Hollis, they are passionate about developing safe, fun, and accessible activities and races supported by highly trained marshalls. Their events encompass everything from 10K runs to half-marathons, marathons, triathlons, road cycling races, and ultra-marathons. 

What obstacle did Go Beyond Challenge face? 

Simon bought the business back in 2018, developing the accessibility and quality of Go Beyond Challenge events to ensure each participant has a safe, structured, and enjoyable experience. However, when the pandemic hit, it was a tough time for the company: 

“The pandemic was a huge, devastating blow really to us, because for a long time, we couldn’t do anything at all. And then when we could, when we found gaps in the lockdown schedule, it was incredibly stressful.”

The Go Beyond Challenge team knew they not only wanted to overcome the challenges of Covid-19 but continue to grow and develop. 

How did SEMLEP provide support? 

Simon became aware of SEMLEP through a social media post, and his first instinct was that it was “probably too good to be true”. However, he began to find out more and successfully applied for support through two grants – a technology grant for £3000 and a further grant of £7500. These combined with the expert advice they received, helped Go Beyond Challenge not only weather the storm of the pandemic but come out of it stronger. 

“Whereas everybody else was saying, ‘Oh, you know, we need to batten the hatches down, we need to weather the storm.’ We were like, right, what can we do now to make our performance better? So that when we come out of this, we’re in a great place.”

With the technology grant, Go Beyond Challenge upgraded their website and invested in equipment that makes running and promoting their business easier. The second grant was part of a matched funding scheme and was used to help purchase a van and add professional signwriting. This not only helps Go Beyond Challenge to operate more effectively, it acts as a constant advertisement for who they are and what they do.

Alongside the funding, Simon worked with SEMLEP advisors to analyse the business and identify areas for improvement. He found this process incredibly useful as a tool to really reflect on the business and what they could be doing better. As a result of these findings, he has engaged a professional marketing company to promote Go Beyond Challenge events and grow their customer base. 

Simon feels all his interactions with SEMLEP have been very positive, and he has already recommended them to other businesses that work in the same office block. He summed up his experience below :  

“I think as a small business, you can feel very isolated. Particularly, I spend a lot of time working on my own … but you kind of feel that they’re by your side, I suppose, is the best way to put it. And, I just get the impression from them that their desire is to see you be being successful and they’re just looking at every way they can to try and facilitate that.”