A 24-year-old business owner is hoping to make his new leisure venue all the rage in Swansea.
Matthew Griffin, 24, opened the first Lumberjack Axe Throwing on Catherine Street, Cardiff in July, 2019 aged just 21.
Now, thanks to a £35,000 micro loan from the Development Bank of Wales, Matthew has opened a Lumberjack site on Dilwyn Street, Swansea.
As well providing a venue for axe throwing – an increasingly popular indoor sport – the new venue will see the addition of Wales’ first permanent “rage room”, which gives customers the chance to work out their stresses by freely smashing up crockery and other items, which Matthew plans to open later in the year.
Matthew, who won Businessperson of the Year at the Cardiff Business Awards 2020, spotted the gap in the market for an axe-throwing venue in Cardiff and took the opportunity to open his first site while continuing to work as a self-employed carpenter and working towards his university degree.
At the Cardiff venue, which was the first urban axe throwing centre in Wales, guests have the chance to test their physical and co-ordination skills and compete against one another by throwing axes at targets, under the supervision of trained members of staff.
After opening in mid-2019 and successfully navigating the business through the difficulties posed by the Covid-19 pandemic by working in the Nightingale field hospital in Cardiff, Matthew set his sights on expanding Lumberjack in late 2021 and discovered a suitable site on Dilwyn Street in Swansea city centre.
The £35k micro loan from the Development Bank allowed him to keep the business stable during renovation work for the new site, with the development also supported by Swansea City Council's Property Enhancement Grant.
“Working with the Development Bank was a breeze – I’d always thought coming for a loan would mean a cycle of refusals as being a young person can have its limitations, but this was proven to not be the case and I can’t praise the Development Bank enough.”
“I was funding Cardiff by myself and it took all my personal savings at the time to get it off the ground. The loan has assisted massively in ensuring the Swansea construction doesn’t have too much of an impact on the cashflow of the company as a whole.”
“As you can imagine, running a company while trying to construct a premises twice the size of the one bringing in the revenue can majorly drop capital reserves, risking the whole company and making the project almost impossible after the years of economic uncertainties that we have had.”
“The process was straightforward, and investment executive Donna Strohmeyer was always on hand to explain things when needed, which I can’t be more grateful for. They took the stress out of it completely. I will always approach the Development Bank for any future funding I may need.”
Matthew plans to host tournaments for the sport at the new site, as well as continuing existing relationships with hospitality partners Smoke Haus, who work alongside Lumberjack Axe Throwing to provide food and entertainment packages for customers.
Donna Strohmeyer, a micro loans investment executive at the Development Bank, said:
“We’re very pleased to have worked with Matthew in helping him to secure new premises in Swansea, allowing him to expand his existing business and bring this exciting new sport to a whole new customer base.”
“It’s great to see the Swansea site completed, and we wish Matthew the very best as he brings Lumberjack Axe Throwing to a new city.”
Bethan Cousens, new investments director at the Development Bank, said:
“We’re keen to work with promising young entrepreneurs like Matthew, who might not think they have a strong base from which to look for investment.”
“We can help check their suitability for any investment, and guide them through every step of the way, giving them the chance to make their business dreams a reality.”
To find out more on how the Development Bank can help young entrepreneurs, head to www.developmentbank.wales/young-entrepreneurs