Ubco and Balex Marine turn to Snowball funding platform for next phase of growth

By David Porter

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Ubco is increasing its focus on finalising a road-legal version of its off-road farm bike. Photo/Supplied
Ubco is increasing its focus on finalising a road-legal version of its off-road farm bike. Photo/Supplied

Ubco, the Bay of Plenty-based electric bike maker, is transitioning to managing its manufacturing with Yadea, China's leading electric scooter manufacturer, as it increases its focus on finalising a road-legal version of its off-road farm bike.

In addition, having raised $1.8 million in its latest funding round, it will launch an offer on Snowball Effect later this month targeting up to a further $700,000. Ubco will be the second Bay company to go to Snowball Effect for additional funding, with Balex Marine also currently seeking capital on the crowdfunding platform.

Ubco raised its initial capital through a combination of Enterprise Angels member commitments, EA Fund 1, and the NZ Seed Capital Investment Fund, plus existing and private investors.

The company, which has an established supply chain in China, is now transitioning to a new manufacturing arrangement with leading Chinese electric scooter maker Yadea.

Working with Yadea would make it easier to meet higher compliance levels required as it continued its push to create a road-legal version of the electric bike, said chief executive Tim Allen.

"Moving to a road-legal product is quite a big exercise," he said. "It means we will be pushing though to the next level of quality control."

Mr Allen said Ubco now believed it could sell a lot more than it originally estimated, and Yadea had the capacity to produce on a much bigger scale than the current arrangements.

However the company would be continuing to sell the original off-road model, was now beginning to make inroads into b-to-b areas, and is currently filling an order for 15 off-road electric bikes for Real Journeys, operating at Walter Peak in Queenstown. Ubco has also successfully sold bikes to the Department of Conservation.

Deion Campbell, who joined the board in his capacity as a private investor in Ubco and now serves as chairman, said the focus was on path to market. Mr Campbell is general manager generation for Trustpower.

"There are a lot of interesting opportunities in the market, like the conservation groups and tour operators," he said.

"But to get the scale the business needs we really need to get offshore. The team is working on following up the leads we've had over the last year, which have come from distributors around the world."

Preparations for the Snowball Effect launch were in the final stages, he said, and interest had been high with 90 responding to the platform's initial announcement.

The company will be targeting an additional $700,000 to complete its round.

Balex Marine

Balex Marine chief executive Paul Symes. Photo/Supplied
Balex Marine chief executive Paul Symes. Photo/Supplied

Balex Marine, manufacturers of the Automatic Boat Loader (ABL), launched its Snowball Effect offer on September 26, which will remain open until October 17. The offer was targeting $300,000 to close out the company's current $900,000 capital round, with provision for over-subscription.

The capital will be used to strengthen the company's push into new markets in Australia, Europe and the US, said chief executive Paul Symes.

A Hutchison Boat Show award winner, the remote-controlled ABL has aroused strong interest in the marine industry.

"The Snowball Effect round is the first time retail investors will have an opportunity to take a stake in the ABL," said Mr Symes, a co-founder of the company.

"We have already achieved a number of our key production and marketing targets and are now looking to establish the most effective ways to meet the growing trade and user demand that we are experiencing both in NZ and abroad," said Mr Symes.

The ABL is in commercial production and Balex has partnered with Gait International to manage all procurement, manufacturing, assembly and testing.

The company has signed up New Zealand's largest nationwide marine dealer, Boating and Outdoors, with 23 stores, and has partnership agreements with four major trailer manufacturers and five NZ boat manufacturers. The company has also signed an exclusive distribution agreement for the UK, Europe, Middle East and Africa with Forge Group (UK).

Balex Marine also has sponsorship deals with two of New Zealand's leading TV Fishing Shows - Big Angry Fish and Fishy Business.

Snowball Effect
Launched NZ's first equity crowdfunding offer in August 2014, and now claims a 70 per cent plus share of the crowdfunding marketplace.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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