Craig Jones, Director: “The renewable industry is very heavily reliant on government incentives. So we’ve decided to expand into the construction market. To do so, we needed investments to bring new people in and enter that market.” At the same time, Energy Gain intended to significantly reduce the cost of its equipment, 80% of which was imported from China, by procuring directly from the Chinese suppliers instead of through agents in the UK. This would also enable it to gain direct access to the suppliers for technical support, when their UK agents could only provide limited assistance. However, the lack of Chinese-speaking staff meant that this had not been possible for the company. “By having the Chinese investor on board, we can hopefully bypass a lot of those suppliers and go directly to China.”
Having evaluated the various funding options in the market, Energy Gain decided to raise funds via the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa scheme. The company was particularly impressed with two key features of the scheme: unsecured loan and business skills from the Chinese investor.
Craig explained: “You can go to market at any point and get the money from, say, traditional lenders like banks, which would require some form of collateral as security. Or you could go to business angels, but they can’t really bring anything else with them. With the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa scheme, you’re not just getting money that is unsecured. You’re also getting a Chinese investor who has a network of contacts in China, and who will bring their expertise and language skills. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.” The Beijing-based investor joined the company in December 2017, bringing with her the much needed China experience from working with some of the world’s largest companies in the local energy sector.
The £200,000 investment has enabled Energy Gain to recruit the right talents to fulfill its ambitions. “With the new investment, we’ve already got 2 new staff working on sales and supply chain to generate more construction business.” The Chinese investor has also proven a tremendous asset for the company. “Through the Chinese investor, we can build relationships with Chinese suppliers and use her specialist skills. Hopefully, we can also get across the cultural barrier and the way the Chinese do business.”
Overall, Craig has been impressed with the experience and the support from Ying De. “Our account manager at Ying De was absolutely fantastic. He helped us every step of the way. The process was really easy and straightforward.” He would also “definitely 100%” recommend this form of alternative finance to other companies looking for investment.
The positive experience has prompted Energy Gain to appoint Ying De for the next £400,000 funding round. Discussions with two potential investors have already begun in April 2018, and the investments are expected to be completed by Sep 2018.