A fast-growing bicycle business, founded just over year ago by two university graduates, is geared up for expansion after successfully bidding for funding of nearly £100,000.
Mango Bikes, based in the Cotswold Water Park, near Cirencester, applied for the funding through the Government’s Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) scheme, which enables small businesses to borrow money from approved lenders.
Mango Bikes’ founders Jezz Skelton and Ben Harrison were helped in the funding application by Neil Elsden – of Swindon-based Banks, Chartered Accountants – and the funding came from Lloyds Bank.
“Neil and Banks, Chartered Accountants were a huge help,” said Ben. “In fact, we had tried to apply to two other banks first but our applications had been turned down.”
The EFG funding totalled £95,000; the first tranche of £50,000 came in June and they have just secured their second tranche, of £45,000, which was dependent on hitting sales and profit targets.
The money has enabled them to carry enough stock to be able to fulfil their expanding order book, and meet their customer guarantee of delivering a bike within ten days of order.
“From the first meeting with Ben and Jezz it was clear that they had both a real vision of where they wanted the company to go and a work ethic to make it happen. In fact the only thing holding them back was funding,” said Neil.
“We looked at the funding options available, and agreed that the EFG was the most appropriate to them and their circumstances. I am pleased to have been involved in the successful application process and I look forward to working with Ben and Jezz as their business grows.
“Their story goes to show that, with the right application in place, funding from banks is available.”
Eddie Cranwell, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, added: “Ben and Jezz took an idea and made it happen. It is thanks to their business plan and Mango Bikes’ unique selling point that the company is doing so well and has such ambition for growth.”
Mango Bikes was borne out of the two friends’ university experience. They wanted to market an affordable bike to students, and started their range with a one-speed model costing around £300.
They were able to put in £30,000 of their own money and attracted a further £5,000 in seed funding from Innocent drinks co-founder Richard Reed, when they appeared in a BBC programme he fronted called Be Your Own Boss, aimed at encouraging young entrepreneurs. In fact, by winning the programme they were offered a further £50,000 funding from Richard, but decided not to accept because of the equity terms.
Mango Bikes’ first full year of trading ends in April and the business is on course to turn over £600,000, selling more than 2,500 bikes.
They sell through their website, and their USP is that customers can custom-select their colours, styles and accessories.
The bike parts are manufactured in Taiwan, and shipped to the company’s headquarters in South Cerney, where they are assembled and painted before being delivered.
The bikes also retail in branches of Fenwicks, and Ben and Jezz hope to break into other high street retailers, such as John Lewis. Overseas sales are also steadily increasing.
For more information, visit www.mangobikes.co.uk or call 01285 706102.
For more information about Banks, Chartered Accountants visit www.banksca.co.uk
Pictured, top: Jezz Skelton, Ben Harrison, Neil Elsden; below: Jezz Skelton, Neil Elsden, Ben Harrison