Entrepreneur ups his game with loan

A 22-year-old businessman is expanding his gaming controller modification business following a £30,000 loan from the Business Enterprise Fund (BEF).

 Custom Controllers UK, Europe’s leading manufacturer for customised gaming controllers moved into its new 5,500 square foot premises in South Leeds and required additional funding to develop the warehouse. The loan from BEF, which has offices across Yorkshire and the North East, allowed the business to buy new computers and equipment to support the growth of the operation.

Founder, Ben Lawton, started Custom Controllers UK when he was 16 from the garage of his family home in Manchester. After moving to Leeds in 2012 for university, Ben won The Duke of York’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015 and now has contracts with the UK’s leading games retailer, Game, and employs 24 people.

Ben said: “I’ve always loved gaming and I identified a gap in the market for customised controllers when I was still at high school. Unless you had $180 to spare there was no way of getting unique, bespoke controllers. So I turned to modifying them myself and soon started taking offers from school friends!”

He added: “After selling my controllers on eBay and Amazon, I set up and launched my own website. In my final year at university, Custom Controllers UK, which was once just a logo and a few social media platforms, truly blew up and I rented a small office just outside Leeds and employed 6 staff.  We became the top seller on Game’s online marketplace and after passing a 13 store trial with the retailer in November 2016, our products will now be placed in 120 stores around the UK in the coming weeks. The business is growing from strength to strength.”

Custom Controllers UK has worked with hip-hop artists JME and Wretch 32 and has partnered with internationally known gaming vlogging group, Sidemen. With a social media following of over 215k, Ben, who is running the 2017 London Marathon on behalf of Age UK, has plans to further expand his business into the European market over the next 12 months.

Jeremy Meadowcroft, investment manager at the Business Enterprise Fund, which has recently been named a regional manager for the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, said: “I was thrilled to offer our support to Custom Controllers UK. It’s another great example of a thriving Yorkshire-based business. Ben and his team are a fantastic success story which I’m very pleased to be part of. There’s some exciting things in the pipeline for his business and I’m looking forward to watching it continue to develop and grow. Watch this space!”

Ben added: “As a 22-year-old businessman with little previous trading experience I found it extremely difficult to source outside support and funding. I’m very thankful to BEF for its backing, the loan has allowed Custom Controllers UK to grow and meet high demands. The continued support from my mentor, Jeremy, has been great. He’s always there to offer advice when needed – if things get too much, I know he’s there ready to catch up over a coffee.”

For further advice about funding for businesses visit www.befund.org.