Balex Marine strengthens its board

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  • December 1, 2015

By David Porter – Bay of Plenty Times

Tauranga startup Balex Marine this week announced the appointment of Comvita co-founder Alan Bougen as an independent director and Tuatara Breweries chief executive Richard Shirtcliffe as board adviser.

Balex Marine's Paul Yarrall and Paul Symes.

Balex Marine’s Paul Yarrall and Paul Symes

The company also announced it had successfully closed its second fundraising round on $1.2million.

Mr Bougen is the co-founder, deputy chairman and a director of NZX-listed Bay of Plenty honey and health products company Comvita. Mr Shirtcliffe’s former roles include heading up global marketing at export success story phil&teds.

“We were looking for people with strong governance experience who had grown significant companies from small startups,” said Balex Marine’s chairman Daryl French.

“Alan is an ideal fit. He has experience in taking Comvita from a startup all the way to it becoming a significant large publicly listed entity.

He brings governance experience and will add to our capabilities, particularly if we decide to look to an IPO as part of a future exit strategy.

“Richard has experience in taking a number of companies from startups through to medium size, great marketing expertise and real passion and enthusiasm. Together, they will really strengthen the board.”

Balex Marine makes the hydraulically powered Automatic Boat Loader 2500, installed on trailers, which lets users launch and retrieve their boat by remote control. “The ABL makes launching so stress-free we believe it will become an automatic add-on for trailer boat owners,” said Balex Marine’s managing director Paul Symes.

Mr Bougen, an investor in the second round and long-time Bay of Plenty resident and boatie, said the fact Balex was a local company was a key element in his becoming involved.

Alan Bougen

Alan Bougen

“When I first saw the ABL, I thought it was a great idea with tremendous potential. What got it over the line for me though was seeing the work they had done on developing their IP and assessing market opportunities.

“Balex has a strong, creative team under the leadership of Paul Symes and I feel they have a good chance of creating substantial future value.”

Mr Shirtcliffe previously worked at phil&teds with Balex Marine’s sales director Paul Yarrall. “I’m attracted to smart people who are very committed, very passionate and very forward thinking. And I’m attracted to very smart ideas that can fundamentally change elements of the world. Balex has a wonderful intersection of those elements.”

By the numbers

Balex Marine’s successful second fundraising round of $1.2 million included a strong commitment from first-round investors, as well as substantial new investors. A number of the investors are members of the Bay of Plenty’s Enterprise Angels and the startup funding group’s sidecar fund EA 1 made a follow-on investment of $50,000.

In addition, the Government’s Seed Capital Investment Fund came in with a $175,000 follow-on commitment – in the top quarter in size of follow-on investments for the New Zealand Investment Fund’s portfolio.

Enterprise Angels executive director Bill Murphy said the reason Balex was attracting continued investment support was because it not only met its milestones, but exceeded them.

“Investment in these startup companies is the first step. What’s so important is the post-investment management. Appointing directors with relevant skills, such as these appointees bring to the table, will be critically important to the success of the company.”