Balex hoping for strong financial currents with Snowball Effect

A Bay of Plenty boating company is trying to raise $900,000 so it can expand overseas. Will it sail away to success, or sink in the harbour?

Raising $900,000 is no small feat for almost every company that’s not a multinational corporation. But a Bay of Plenty-based company is nonetheless hoping to do just that as it looks to push into new markets in Australia, Europe and the United States.

Balex Marine has launched a capital raise open to the public on Snowball Effect to complete its current $900,000 funding round. The capital will be used to strengthen the company’s push into overseas markets, with a window to raise the money closing on October 17.

Balex co-founder and chief executive Paul Symes says he’s confident the company will come up with the cash. “The Snowball Effect round is the first time retail investors will have an opportunity to take a stake in the award-winning ABL,” he says, referring to the company’s Automatic Boat Loader system.

The ABL is, in short, a launch system for boats that automatically launches them into the water and retrieves them from the water. Balex director of sales and marketing Paul Yarrall says the company wants to see the system used on every boat trailer some day because it’s such a disruptive technology. “It simply makes the whole process easier, safer and more enjoyable,” he says.

Milan Radonich, host of the television series Big Angry Fish, is also a fan. “Once you use it, you will never go without it. It takes the final pain out of fishing.”

Since its launch in late 2013, Balex has raised a total of $2.2 million. In its current funding round, it has received commitments of about $450,000, mostly from existing shareholders and wholesale-qualified investors. The Snowball Effect offer will be targeting $300,000, with provision for over-subscription. The minimum investment size for the Snowball Effect online offer is $2,000. There is no maximum. So far, the company has raised about $90,000 since the campaign went live on Monday.

“We have already achieved a number of our key production and marketing targets and are now looking to establish the most effective ways to meet the growing trade and user demand that we are experiencing both in NZ and abroad,” claims Symes. “The ABL is now in commercial production and Balex has partnered with Gait International to manage all procurement, manufacturing, assembly and testing. Partnering with Gait has secured a world-class scalable supply chain solution that will meet the current and future needs of the business.”

Paul Symes, left, and and Paul Yarrall.

Aside from overseas, Balex is also looking to aggressively expand within New Zealand. The company has signed up with the country’s largest marine dealer, Boating and Outdoors, with 23 stores, and has partnership agreements with four major trailer manufacturers and five New Zealand boat manufacturers. Balex has also signed an exclusive distribution agreement for the UK, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) with UK-based Forge Group. Balex and Forge Group will be promoting the ABL2500 at the Southampton Boat Show in England in September, followed by the Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS) in Amsterdam in November.

Across the ditch, Balex took part in last month’s Sydney International Boat Show. The company is currently in discussions with one of Australia’s largest boat trailer manufacturers on integrating the ABL into their trailer design. If the deal goes through, it will result in the first offering of ABL trailers in Australia. Balex have also signed up Watersports Marine in Sydney as their first Australian reseller, and are aiming to appoint key resellers in Brisbane and Melbourne by October.

Not bad for a company that started from a garage in the Bay of Plenty.