Creating a brand-new venture is an exciting time for any entrepreneur. But, as many start-up owners will know, the highs often come with lows – there will be loads of challenges to overcome.

To help paint a realistic picture of the rollercoaster that you will undoubtedly find yourself on as the owner of a start-up, we have been speaking to one of our Start Up Loan customers,  Marnie Williams, Co-Founder of Wonder – an interactive imaginary play space for children and families.

In a series of articles, Marnie will take you behind the scenes to shed some light on the real-life hurdles that entrepreneurs encounter. By tracking her journey from pre-start all the way up to the opening of the new business, you’ll hear first-hand about the barriers and obstacles she has faced.


The People

Marnie and her husband and business partner Gavin are parents to two young boys. Since becoming parents, they found themselves disappointed with the level of theatre and heart behind some of the leisure activities available for young children and they decided they wanted to change that.

Over her career journey, Marnie has developed a wealth of experience in retail marketing and shopping centre management. Since becoming a mother, Marnie became acutely aware of the lack of play-based learning experiences available.

Marnie decided to take the leap to start her own business alongside  Gavin, with each bringing valuable skills to the table.

Gavin also has a strong retail background and manages a large shopping centre in Surrey. Gavin will lead the business’s financial management and growth strategies.

The Business Idea

The idea for Wonder is that it will deliver interactive and imaginary play for toddlers and families, offering a safe, unique and innovative space for toddlers to have fun but more importantly help support their development skills and a growing understanding of the world. The business will offer something different from the similar competition in the area with innovative designs to create a special environment for young children to learn and play.

With the level of attention to detail and theatre proposed for Wonder, the venue will provide a truly magical play centre for children and an outstanding facility for parents and caregivers alike.

What Makes This Business Different?

Imaginative play is considered important for the development of children’s cognitive and social skills.

Although there are other concepts designed to help children learn through play, such as soft play and trampoline parks, Wonder will offer something different.  The Wonder Imaginary Play Centre will be a mini ‘reality-led’ concept which will encourage children to explore over ten immersive role play zones.

For example, some of the town zone ideas currently being explored include a fire station, a supermarket, a builder’s construction site, a theatre, a beauty salon and a space station. Attention to detail will be key, and each zone will contain interactive elements like equipment and dress-up.

Coming Next: In the next instalment of this series, The Diary of a Start-Up Entrepreneur, you will hear first-hand from Marnie, where she is on her business journey and the challenges she has conquered during the period.

About SWIG Finance

SWIG Finance is a non-profit company which supports viable South West businesses that can’t secure sufficient funding from their bank. By empowering underserved SMEs to overcome their financial barriers, we are working to create a more balanced financial ecosystem.

We’re growing every year. In 2021/22, we lent £10.8m to 502 businesses, helping to create and secure over 1,000 jobs and generate £32.3m. For more information visit

If you’d like an informal chat about your funding requirements, get in touch with our friendly and professional team to see how we can help: / 01872 227 930.