Guy Lane, marketing director and co-founder of Kabina, designers of ‘can-float’ homes, spoke at McBrides’ FaB (finance and business) breakfast on the challenges of being a start-up and accessing finance.
In August last year, the Government proposed setting up a national investment fund to assist fledgling businesses and help them compete with their US counterparts after Brexit.
Speaking at McBrides’ FaB meeting today, Guy Lane said that the biggest challenge he has faced when accessing funding for the project is the lack of coherence to the capital market for start-ups. “It would be great if there was a seed capital service for start-ups, a go-to website or perhaps a junior AIM for unquoteds, whereby entrepreneurs could post their investment proposition and thereby gain access to relevant capital providers. At the moment, it is a case of each start-up negotiating a labyrinth. It is right that investors are careful and cautious but if the UK is to prosper we all need to figure out a better and faster way for viable start-ups to get funded”.
Kabina is based in Camden, London and has been engaged in R&D for three years. They received R&D tax credits having been advised successfully about these by their accountants McBrides.
Guy Lane says: “Our R&D programme has lasted three and a half years and has been a major focus for us. Our approach has been to draw on deep expertise within both the marine and land world. We have enlisted specialist designers, architects and engineers from both environments in order to create a unique hybrid methodology. We have been working with specialist small consultancies and major firms such as Arup, Buro Happold and WSP. We intend to file for patent in Q1 this year for the Kabina house foundation system which comprises a bespoke array of key components, notably a porous ‘Saxon Wall’, buoyant foundation containers, deck platform and house guiding piles and collars. We’re now in a planning process for our first sites so these are exciting times!”
The proposed site in Kent will hopefully host 360 can-float homes thanks to innovative technology and design created by Kabina.
The team has a pedigree in designing on water - they have previously designed a 100m barge to accommodate 800 workers, a hotel flotilla in Qatar, hotel ships for city docks, affordable apartments for London docks and a floating village for Liverpool docks before they decided to concentrate on houses in flood zones.
Kabina’s innovative design includes raised roads, gabion walls, buoyant foundations and independent utilities. The flood adaptive buildings will use guiding piles and collars to keep them in position.
The sites will be excavated to produce channels and swales for flood water and will have raised roads.
Nigel Kimber, partner at McBrides and head of corporate finance said: “The government highlighted back in August how British businesses currently rely on financial backing from the European Investment Fund (EIF).
“One of their rationales for setting up a new dedicated fund would be to ensure that firms still have access to the funding they need, should cashflow from the EIF dry up after Brexit. It’s vital though that the government does more to support start-ups if we are to prosper and grow the economy. Companies like Kabina show how much talent we have in the UK, it’s time to support that talent and make funding for innovative start-ups easier to navigate.”