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Swansea co-operative consortium wins Innovation in Business Award

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Natalie Reynolds, That Useful Company, recieves her Innovation in Business Award

Natalie Reynolds recieves her Innovation in Business Award

Social media and marketing expert Natalie Reynolds has won an award for innovation at today’s South Wales Evening Post Women in Business Awards 2013.

Natalie is a founding member of the marketing co-operative consortium That Useful Company which was set up last year with assistance from the Wales Co-operative Centre.

The new company allowed the co-operative’s members to work together on marketing projects and contracts under the umbrella company whilst still remaining specialists in their own fields.

It was Natalie’s idea to find a way of formalising several informal collaboration relationships into a consortium to be able to bid for larger contracts than they could attract as sole traders or as small businesses.

Since its launch in 2012 the co-operative has expanded rapidly, necessitating two office moves and the creation of several jobs.

The co-operative consortium has won a number of marketing contracts where businesses get the benefit of working with specialists across a number of marketing areas including social media, web, design and strategy.

Natalie said, “ I am hoping that even more people will start thinking of working in a similar way as I believe it will help support micro-businesses in the Welsh economy”.

Sarah Owens who helped Natalie and the other members of the co-operative to set up the new business was delighted with the news, “This is such a well deserved award. Natalie and her colleagues have worked so hard to make this co-operative consortium a success and it is great to see them as they reap the benefits. Working together in a formal co-operative consortium is a great way of small enterprises accessing work they couldn’t access by themselves and is an approach that can work across any sector in Wales”.

To find out more about That Useful Company, visit

To find out more about working together in a co-operative consortium, visit

Natalie Reynolds, co-founder of That Useful Company with her Innovation in Business Award

Natalie Reynolds, co-founder of That Useful Company with her Innovation in Business Award


Marketing businesses shine together – under one umbrella

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A group of three successful business people are coming together under the umbrella of a new co-operative company. ‘That Useful Company’ will be launched at the Business Network Exhibition at the Vale Resort in Cardiff (Thursday 4th October). The three Swansea-based colleagues, who each work as individual businesses, have formed a consortium to deliver a wide range of bespoke marketing services to clients across Wales. ‘That Useful Company’ was created as a means of allowing the individual members to tender for larger contracts and to offer a wider range of services to their existing customers.  

That Useful Company and Sarah Owens from the Wales Co-operative Centre

Marketing services under one umbrella – That Useful Company and Sarah Owens from Wales Co-operative Centre

Support for That Useful Company has come from the Wales Co-operative Centre, funded through the European Regional Development Fund and Welsh Government. The Wales Co-operative Centre’s Consortia development team worked with the members of That Useful Company to form their aims and objectives and to incorporate the business. The three members of That Useful Company, Natalie Reynolds, Ben Wheeler and Matthew Pugh, chose a consortium approach as it allows the individual businesses to operate independently and maintain their own identity, but also to collaborate and work for larger clients to help grow their businesses. That Useful Company will be able to offer an integrated range of marketing services including marketing strategy, social media, web design, branding, email marketing and print.

Natalie Reynolds, who runs a successful social media business explained why she chose this approach, ‘After seeing my business grow rapidly in just 18 months I was often asked how I would grow my business further, however employing staff didn’t seem the most appropriate option as  the services that I provide are based on my experience.  Instead I chose to get a group of marketing professionals together to see if we could collaborate, providing support and sharing our experiences to enhance the services we offer our clients.  We worked with the Wales Co-operative Centre to put a formal structure to our group with the intention of pitching for larger contracts to help expand our individual businesses’.

Ben Wheeler is a website designer and software developer. He remarked, ‘I’ve worked for myself and built a successful business over the last 4 years; but when I was approached about collaborating with other individuals to be able to work for larger clients and share resources while still being able to keep my own business identity and clients as well, I thought the idea was fantastic and suited my growth plans well. The Wales Co-operative Centre has been excellent in supporting us to achieve this’.

Matthew Pugh’s expertise in design and print had led him to work with Natalie and Ben on several occasions before joining them in forming the consortium, ‘Having worked collaboratively with Ben and Nat for clients it seemed to be the logical step forward for my business to work within this new company. A specifically created cooperative between us gives us all greater weight when approaching larger clients and as a cooperative group we are able to support each others individual businesses and maintain the identity of our own companies. That Useful Company enables us to offer a greater range of benefits and services to existing clients and also gives greater stability and security to my individual company in the future”.

Ben, Matt and Natalie from That Useful Company, a co-operative consortia set up in conjunction with the Wales Co-operative Centre

Marketing consortium. (L-r) Ben Wheeler, Matthew Pugh and Natalie Reynolds

The consortium was formed from a group of friends and colleagues developed through small business network events. Fittingly, the consortium’s first large piece of work is for a business network. That Useful Company ran the marketing campaign the Business Network Exhibition– managing the branding, website, flyers, newspaper advertising, social media stream and Facebook data capture.

Sarah Owens, the Development Officer who worked with That Useful Company from its initial meeting through to its incorporation as a company limited by shares stated, ‘It was great to work with the creative team at That Useful Company. Natalie, Ben and Matthew have an innovative approach to growing their business which builds on their individual strengths and allows them to continue to develop their own businesses independently of the consortium’.

Wales Co-operative Centre Business Succession and Consortia Project Manager Rhian Edwards commented,

‘Wales is dependent on its micro business sector. The sector accounts for 94.5% of all businesses in Wales. The Micro Business Task and Finish Group Report supported the consortia approach to give micro businesses better access to public sector procurement opportunities. The launch of ‘That Useful Company’ demonstrates the ambition within the Welsh micro-business sector to grow and expand and to service larger contracts and we wish Natalie, Ben and Matthew the best of luck with this new venture’.

Further information on the benefits of consortia for business are available on the Wales Co-operative Centre’s website Find out more about That Useful Company at from Thursday.

Written by David Madge

October 3, 2012 at 9:29 am

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