Case Studies

Isle Develop CIC

Isle Develop CIC was created by Rhoda Meek to build websites and develop simple digital solutions for community groups, charities and small businesses.

Our purpose

At Isle Develop CIC, based in the Isle of Tiree, we build great websites and develop simple digital solutions for community groups, charities and small businesses. We train young islanders in digital skills, where they learn how to build websites, helping us build the websites we are working on.

We reinvest our profits into the Scottish islands, and we do this in two ways. Firstly, by offering free or subsidised digital support to island-based community groups, small businesses and entrepreneurs who couldn’t otherwise afford to access it. Then we run isle20 and isleHOLIDAY to the benefit of our communities.

Our goal is to help make sure that our islands thrive well into the future. That means healthy, vibrant, resident communities.

Products sold by Isle20

How we got started

It grew from the isle20 website during lockdown, and it made sense that it benefitted the community by being a social enterprise. I knew the idea was bigger than me!

I received start-up support from a Just Enterprise business advisor for my Firstport business plans. With this support, I was able to get advice on legal and financial matters, and on how to set up a board. It was great to get a second pair of eyes on our ideas. As a result of our conversations, I decided legally that Isle Develop would be a Community Interest Company (CIC), and we became established as a social enterprise in 2020.

I was also able to create a board by talking to friends with a shared vision, the more I spoke to people, the more people I met who I wanted to bring to the board. I specifically chose people with skills and experience I don’t have myself. It was also important to me to have people who don’t always agree with me!

Our funding journey

We have had great success with Firstport funding, firstly by getting Start It, then Build It and finally, Boost It.

Start It helped us to run campaigns for isle20 in 2020, while Build It helped us to launch a second project, isleHOLIDAY, and grow our reach through marketing.

Boost It has allowed us to take on two young islanders as our first Digital Trainees, proving that the model works. Our social enterprise now has the confidence to experiment as we try to find commercial contracts for isledevelop.com.

Ray was our Relationship Manager at Firstport, he was great at talking me through it, giving me confidence, asking probing questions and being realistic!

Do you have any advice for other budding social entrepreneurs thinking of applying to Firstport?

Go for it! We couldn’t have got to where we are without Firstport – there’s no question about that! We needed the financial support to reach a place where we could be profitable and Firstport has been a godsend.

Rhoda Meek from Isle Develop talking to another person
Rhoda Meek, on the right, in conversation

What’s next on the horizon for Isle Develop CIC?

We’re going to keep on keeping on! We want to grow our in-house projects isle20 and isleHOLIDAY, and develop local island skills and talents by expanding our workforce!

Find out more about Isle Develop CIC, isle20 and isleHOLIDAY on their websites. You can also follow their isle20 and isleHOLIDAY Facebook pages, their isle20 and isleHOLIDAY Instagram pages, and their LinkedIn to find out the latest from them.