Photograph: (Left to Right) Matt Wells, Chief Executive – Frontgrid, David Wood, Chairman – Frontgrid, Ian Adams, Bathgate and Mike Calvert, Reward Finance Group
A North Wales company specialising in adventure leisure and virtual reality attractions is enjoying global expansion thanks to £100k investment from SME funder Reward Finance Group, which was arranged by finance specialists, Bathgate Business Finance.
Conwy-based Frontgrid has rapidly accelerated its growth since receiving the funding injection, securing several orders for its world-first virtual reality (VR) paragliding experience product, ParadropVR, in Thailand, India, Dubai and Malaysia.
Bathgate Business Finance secured a £100k loan, against security, from Reward Finance Group. The loan allowed the team at Frontgrid to manufacture a ParadropVR unit to exhibit at national and international trade shows, allowing prospective buyers the opportunity to try the product.
Its latest raft of orders was secured after the team took the purpose-built unit to the renowned global attractions industry trade show, IAAPA expo.
Unlike other VR attractions, ParadropVR is fully immersive and creates an unrivalled, realistic flying sensation for the user. It combines dynamic physical movement and stunning virtual reality graphics with a skill-based game that is 100% controlled by the visitor, to add an extra layer of fun and exhilaration to the experience.
The company, founded by former British Army officer, David Wood and former British Army paratrooper, Matt Wells, was launched in late 2017, securing its first order of four units from Universe Science Park in Denmark. Installations in Merlin Entertainment’s £20million new indoor adventure centre at the Birmingham NEC, The Bear Grylls Adventure and at iFly in Basingstoke followed in 2018.
Matt Wells, CEO at Frontgrid, said: “There is a huge global shift towards the experience economy and active leisure. People are looking for unique, social and memorable experiences beyond just staring at a screen.
“However, more than 50% of the world’s population now live in cities and don’t have easy access to the adventurous, adrenaline-fuelled experiences that David and I are so passionate about. ParadropVR brings that opportunity directly to those people.
“Given how cutting-edge the technology is, we weren’t even sure if there would be a finance solution, but Ian and the Bathgate Business Finance team took time to understand the business. They analysed the business case, sourced the most appropriate funding method and connected us with a funder that was forward-thinking enough to see the opportunity.”
Frontgrid was introduced to Bathgate Business Finance by Andrea Knox at Knox Commercial Solicitors.
Speaking of the deal, Ian Adams from Bathgate Business Finance said: “Securing asset finance against new technology is often considered too risky by investors as the exit strategy can be tricky, so we knew we needed to think differently for the ParadropVR product.
“Working with the team at Reward Finance Group we brokered a loan against security provided by Matt and David that would allow them to make and ship a bespoke unit to trade shows.
“Having now tried ParadropVR myself, I can certainly see how it will be an easy sell for leisure operators wanting to add something new and exceptional to their offer, it was a truly breathtaking experience.”
Mike Calvert from Reward Finance Group’s Manchester office added:
“When Ian at Bathgate asked us to help Matt and David to literally get their new venture off the ground, we had no hesitation in backing them. We quickly saw the potential in both the business idea and the passion the founders showed. Supporting a new startup company is always rewarding and the fact that it produces a virtual reality ride makes it even more exciting.”
Please note: The ParadropVR product is branded as ParaflightVR at iFly in Basingstoke