Rebuffed by the banks, communications entrepreneur John Fitzgerald had to find a new way to finance his digital satellite company.
Building reliable links
Reliable and secure internet and phone access is essential to every modern business. Imagine trying to run a business in a remote location, with poor mobile coverage and no access to an existing cable or fibre network. That is the inspiration for Internet Anywhere.
Set up in 2011 by digital communications veteran John Fitzgerald, the Ayrshire-based company uses easy-to-install satellite technology to link homes and businesses to the wider world. The company is now Scotland’s largest reseller of the Tooway system – an innovative satellite broadband link that doesn’t need a phone line.
No phone line needed
I knew the business would work, but with no capital, or customers, traditional lenders weren’t interested. The alternative lending route has really worked for us.
John Fitzgerald, owner, Internet Anywhere
John Fitzgerald says: “Setting up communications on a new or remote site can be enormously frustrating. But all we require to get you up and running is a south-facing wall or pole and line of sight to the satellite.”
Despite recognising the obvious benefits of such a system, John found traditional investors weren’t willing to back him. “I knew the business would work," he says, "but with no capital or customers, traditional lenders weren’t interested. They didn’t want to lend to or invest in a start-up.”
Alternative routes to funding: the EDGE and peer-to-peer
Internet Anywhere has been account managed by Scottish Enterprise (SE) since 2013. Our Financial Readiness team helped John strengthen his business model, and to draw up funding proposals.
That same year, the business won £35,000 in Scottish EDGE funding, which enabled John to invest in a range of sales growth activities. This included hiring new staff, marketing and promotion, and to attend a range of trade fairs.
Following an introduction from SE, John approached The Lending Crowd, an innovative peer-to-peer lender, seeking a loan of £50,000.
John says: “The alternative lending route has really worked for us. Without them, I don’t know how we would have funded the business.”
“Scottish Enterprise’s support and advice has been essential. They are a great source of knowledge. If I hadn’t had their backing, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
All set for expansion, despite tough climate
The company is now settling into new offices and looking to open a second office in Aberdeen or Inverness. They are also eyeing up expansion opportunities south of the border.
To help finance those ambitions, John has now set his sights on attracting a further £125,000 investment via the Scottish peer-to-peer lending market.
John says: “This is a fantastic opportunity for us, particularly in the current climate where traditional ways of financing business are now virtually non-existent.
“I’m proud of the fact that we are now employing seven people – all Ayrshire locals. It’s great to be able to offer employment opportunities in what is a semi-rural area.”
Get ready to attract investment