Amidst market challenges, this UK-based company is focused on innovative refrigeration technology, particularly for its off-grid fridge solutions.

Company Profile

A UK-based family-owned company has developed a patented technology enabling fridges to cool without direct power. Initially launching a vaccine fridge, they secured equity investment for an off-grid domestic fridge designed for the African market.

CEO’s Mission

The CEO envisioned transforming the small UK business into a global leader in sustainable cooling solutions through their innovative refrigeration technology IP. A new CFO was required, tasked with building a robust back office structure to support this vision, ensuring financial stability during product development and exploring new financing sources. However, aligning the interests of the majority shareholder family, new minority investors, and the company presented a delicate challenge.

CFO’s Objectives

  • Construct a back office capable of supporting global operations.
  • Deliver high-quality financial reporting and contract support for new product rollout.
  • Identify non-dilutive financing for product development.
  • Lead the exploration of alternative applications for the core technology.
  • Establish a legal and operational presence in Africa, adapting product economics to the local context.
  • Address the emergent challenges posed by Covid, including cash conservation, supply chain management, and delays in product development.

What the CFO

Built a Scalable Back Office Function

Before starting, the CFO assessed and revamped the back office, prioritsing cost-effectiveness and scalability. This involved transitioning to new providers for insurance brokerage, IT support, and legal advisory. The accounting system migration was completed in nine months, enhancing support capabilities while reducing costs, crucial for sustainable cooling technology expansion.

Secured Grant and Other Financing

  • Secured additional grant awards, deepening existing relationships.
  • Developed robust reporting for R&D tax credit claims.
  • Repurposed existing grants to support diverse development projects.
  • Over three years, non-dilutive funding strategies brought in over £1.5m.

Navigated Covid Challenges

The onset of Covid posed severe threats to sales and increased operational costs. The CFO implemented swift cost-reduction measures:

  • Furloughed non-essential staff and halted unnecessary expenditures, extending the cash runway by six months.
  • Led the closure of a £2.4m bridge funding round in partnership with the UK Future Fund, sustaining the company during the market downturn and funding new product development and a Cooling as a Service model exploration.

This comprehensive approach by the CFO was instrumental in the company’s survival during Covid and laid the groundwork for its future in sustainable cooling technology expansion.

The Results

  • Transformed the back office from one supporting a local family business to that of a multinational head office 
  • Established the company’s first overseas subsidiary in Kenya, to support initial sales of the new product 
  • Steered the company through significant financial and operational pressures, securing almost £4m in additional funding 
  •  Developed a strong relationship of trust with shareholders whose working relationship had fractured to the point of the existing CEO departing. This resulted in the CFO successfully leading efforts to negotiate a strategic plan acceptable to all parties and taking on the interim CEO role for six months while a permanent replacement was found.