Rick Boyle (37) worked with TEDCO Business Support to successfully access a Virgin StartUp low-cost business loan of £25,000 to fund Sensei, a new martial arts and physiotherapy business based on Chesnut Street in Darlington.

Sensei offers a mix of treatments from highly qualified health professionals in the physiotherapy field and specialises in treating a range of physical injuries, with a focus on sports rehabilitation. Sensei is also home to a dedicated martial arts studio teaching mixed martial arts and Brazilian Jiujitsu in addition to more general fitness classes such as HIIT and bootcamp sessions.

Rick Boyle, owner at Sensei comments:

“I’ve been involved in mixed martial arts for over 15 years and I am now looking forward to bringing together my professional career and my personal passion in one space at Sensei”.

“My former role as a senior NHS physiotherapist gave me the professional experience to treat a wide range of conditions but I always wanted to eventually manage patients in my own business space.

“I’ve worked very closely with many athletes over the years and the time seemed right to open a physiotherapy practise which combines my love of martial arts training with physiotherapy for a more rounded service to clients.”

Rick worked with Judith Wheatley, business advisor at TEDCO Business Support to fine tune what was already a detailed business plan and review the financial strategy put together by Rick to help get Sensei up and running as soon as possible.

Rick continues:

“A friend who has previously set up a new business recommended TEDCO as they found the service offered by their business advisory team to be excellent. I was assigned my own business advisor, Judith Wheatley, and she got straight down to work helping me work out a launch plan and challenging me to really look into every aspect of the business in detail.

“With Judith’s help I successfully applied for a Virgin StartUp loan of £25,000 to help finance the initial start-up costs of Sensei and fund the full fit-out of our dedicated premises at Chesnut Street. TEDCO is the delivery partner for Virgin StartUp in the North East so it was really helpful to have Judith on board to guide me through the application process and make my idea become a business reality.

“Judith helped us to secure additional financing which allowed us to expand our martials arts instructor team to include William Lowson. We have been very fortunate to welcome Professor Shaun Matthews and Team Lagarto, who have allowed us to join their well-established Brazilian JiuJitsu team, meaning we can offer teaching in this art to the highest standard.”

Martial arts training is a major part of the Sensei business thanks to a dedicated training space and instructors qualified to teach from age 4 and upwards.

Rick continues:

“We now have members of staff at Sensei working across physiotherapy, administrative and martial arts teaching roles and we certainly have our eyes on expansion across both sides of the business as we grow in the next three years. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Judith and TEDCO for their guidance and support and also Virgin StartUp.”

Virgin StartUp is a not-for-profit organisation offering low-cost business loans backed by the government to new enterprises across the UK. North East businesses have received over £4.2m in Virgin StartUp loans since the launch of the programme in 2013.

Judith Wheatley, TEDCO Business Advisor comments:

“Rick is a highly skilled physiotherapist and had thoroughly researched the offering required in the local area to come up with a business that brings a much-needed service to Darlington. The martial arts and fitness training aspect adds a community dimension to Sensei that complements the overall business plan and really brings together the sport and Physiotherapy service. I’m confident that this is a business which will really grow and wish Rick and his team the very best of success in the future.”