We closed the Crowdcube equity-based crowdfunding campaign a month ago and there seems to be growing interest in how Fishy Filaments is getting on, so here goes….
By necessity a lot of this will be quite vague as discussions are very definitely on-going, but on-going in the right direction I hope.
The vast majority of funds have now been collected, and the technical and legal side of the share issue is nearly complete. Many thanks to Crowdcube for their dilligence and efficiency, and for making the process as painless as possible on the corporate front. But also many thanks to all the investors for their enthusiasm about the company and its project.
I think its fair to say that the fund raising was a massive success for such a small company. By the end we will have raised ~146% of the £140k target, which gives us a little headroom but certainly doesn’t allow for complacency or slack spending control. Fishy Filaments is built to be quite a tight ship from the outset with capital efficiency as well as resource efficiency being key objectives.
We have started the detailed design process for the production units, are receiving quotes for the production equipment and have started the process of building a new online presence, including an e-commerce capacity built to meet the new data protection regime from day one. These are all absolutely essential steps in bringing the product to market.
As I anticipated and spoke about during the fund raising, we are now in detailed discussions with government-backed funding agencies to explore the potential for capital support in some parts of the business plan.
I have also started discussions with a number of innovation support schemes linked with local universities, to explore how they might assist the onward R&D program. We have made some excellent progress there in capacity discovery, so finding out how the innovation programs aims and objectives align with Fishy Filaments own corporate aims. They are still at an early stage but I expect these discussions to develop.
I’ve opened discussions with local skills support and development agencies to ensure that we have a general workforce with the right skills and training, and that we can structure onwards skills development as the company grows. It probably won’t be in the first few months, maybe even a year, but for a small company apprenticeships seem to offer a strong route to a properly skilled workforce.
The first hire is myself. I become a company employee on 1st November as I take the role of CEO. The task of finding an Operations Manager is on-going. The job specification has undergone a couple of revisions, but I still anticipate it to be the second position that is filled.
Internally we’re still on track to be commissioning the production gear by Christmas but, as mentioned during the fund raising, there are some external factors, such as site preparation and the potential of capital support, that could still delay ‘first filament’.
There are still hurdles (known and unknown), as you might and should expect in a brand new business. One of the oddest, but repeating, issues that I’ve come up against is defining the business in a way that fits a tick box. So far FFL has been described as ‘manufacturing’, ‘environmental’ and ‘waste management’ simply because an external organisation’s paperwork doesn’t account for a Circular Economy business model where all three could apply. For a company with no trading history that tick box can have odd impacts where finance risk and insurance premiums are concerned.
From a distance it might not seem like a massive amount of progress towards first sale, but this first month has been all about laying the right foundations for success. I’m particularly excited about some of the potential partnerships in product R&D and delighted to be finding so much common ground out there with people and organisations who either share or can see value in the Fishy Filaments vision.
There is a lot of support out there, both in professional terms and in the sense of good will, but also (rightly) a bit of pressure to deliver. That isn’t a complaint. Its a recognition that as the instigator of the project and now Founder/CEO of a company with shareholders, I have a duty to follow through and make it a success.