Balex Marine to launch 2nd fundraiser

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  • June 28, 2015

By David Porter – Bay of Plenty Times

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TAURANGA marine products company Balex Marine is launching a second fundraising round as it gets ready to go into production this September with its innovative Automatic Boat Launcher ABL2500 (ABL).

Balex demonstrated the pre-production model of the ABL for a group of founder and existing shareholders at Sulphur Point this week, and will officially launch the new funding round at this Tuesday’s annual meeting of Tauranga start-up group, Enterprise Angels.

The company raised $700,000 in its first round, including $250,000 from individual angel members and $250,000 from the group’s EA1 Fund, with $250,000 matching funding from the government’s Seed Capital Investment Fund (SCIF).

Want to know more about investment opportunities at Balex? CLICK here to find out more or register your interest.

Balex met its first round targets, and is seeking $800,000 more, with provision for an over-subscription up to $1.2 million, or a soft close on $500,000 by September 1, 2015. The company plans to issue 20 per cent new equity based on a pre-money valuation of $3.25 million, with a 25 per cent rise in share value to $1.25.

“We believe the ABL is a totally unique product offering that is a category killer with few, if any, global competitors,” said chief executive Paul Symes, who set up the company in late 2013 with Tauranga boatie Lex Bacon, who came up with the concept and had been developing it in his garage.

The hydraulically powered ABL lets users launch and retrieve their boat without getting their feet wet. A remote control enables a boatie to launch or retrieve their boat, and start, stop or pause the process at the touch of a button, via a roller system installed on the trailer.

Balex tested the market with the first ABL prototype at the Hutchwilco Boat Show in 2014 and won the Innovation Award, picking up registrations of interest and pre-orders.

Balex went through a rigorous due diligence process to receive co-funding for a $240,000 Callaghan Innovation grant, which has been used to tap into the expertise of Orion Marine, a specialist in marine hydraulic systems, and Russian rocket scientist Yuri Ivanov of Sophistech. With their input, the ABL had been refined and was ready to be rolled out, initially in New Zealand, with Australia and North America to follow, he said.

Mr Symes is an experienced entrepreneur who spent almost two decades building his previous CAD design firm 4D into a global company before selling his stake and relocating to Tauranga.

Tauranga-based product development specialists Locus Research have been stakeholders and team members from the outset.

“The ABL is one of those disruptive products that in hindsight seems quite obvious, but it takes someone like Paul Symes to pull it all together,” said Locus managing director Timothy Allan.

“Paul is one of the reasons we invested. His background, and the way he approaches things, gives you a lot of confidence the business is going to be done the right way.”

Enterprise Angels executive director Bill Murphy said Balex Marine was an example of a local investee company getting to the stage where it was ready to market its product.

“It’s very exciting for investors to see the actual pre-production model being demonstrated and working,” he said.

Balex sales director Paul Yarrall, whose experience includes 14 years developing markets for export success story the Phil & Ted baby buggy, said there was a massive potential global market for the ABL.

“We have significant potential to scale up revenues through licensing and distribution to major global trailer boat markets,” he said.

Major New Zealand trailer and boat manufacturers and resellers were showing strong interest in the ABL, said Mr Yarrall. In order to maintain brand integrity, Balex plans to work through authorised resellers and installers.

This week, the company signed its first partnership agreements, with major trailer companies DMW Trailers and Voyager Trailers, and is talking with other leading marine companies who were expected to come on board in a couple of months prior to the product launch, he said.

Voyager Trailers director Steve Williams said his company saw boaties down-sizing because the kids had left home and mum was not interested in going fishing anymore.

“They seek to sacrifice the comfort and safety of their large boat for the ease of handling of much smaller watercraft,” he said.

“The Balex ABL offers the ease of launch and retrieval that allows boaties to keep their big boat. It represents great value for money, in my opinion.”
The facts
The number of global recreational boat parks is an estimated 29 million, with 60 per cent of the market, in what Balex Marine sees as its sweet spot of five to nine metre boats, providing an addressable global market for the company of 17.4 million boats.
Balex’s key targets will include New Zealand, Australia, North America and the UK.

Want to know more about investment opportunities at Balex? CLICK here to find out more or register your interest.