Client profile: Ice Blue Sky

  • 'It is an incredibly beneficial way for businesses of our size to gain funding. I will now always use Clifton and have no doubts in my mind they are fantastic at what they do.'
  • Used SSAS to put the funding in place
  • Independent valuation of the businesses' IP

To remain competitive, particularly in the creative sector, any SME has to keep up with market trends or even be ahead of the curve. To achieve this not only needs vision and a strong business strategy, it also requires funding.

For Ice Blue Sky, financing a transition from design agency to content marketing specialist proved challenging until the team discovered the alternativebusinessfunding.co.uk portal and pension-led funding.

Founded by husband and wife partnership, Jeremy and Charlotte Graham-Cumming, Ice Blue Sky had established an impressive client portfolio, including many blue chip IT corporates, designing everything from adverts to websites, brand design to event-management software.

In 2013, Ice Blue Sky recognised that there had been a significant shift in the market. According to Jeremy: “Marketing, particularly digital, had changed. B2C companies had already switched to content-based marketing, but B2B was slower to catch up and we saw an opportunity to do what we do best. We also saw the chance to focus on our specialist sector – tech companies – because, like most SME’s, finding a niche is the best route to success.”

With Charlotte having been a VP of Marketing for a major IT blue chip and Jeremy having worked with some of the world’s largest banks as an advisor on web strategy and software development, Ice Blue Sky’s six-person team had no shortage of experience. What they lacked was funding to make the transition.

“We needed around £50,000 to re-brand, grow the business and further develop our event management tool. We tried various routes to find cash,” Jeremy states. The first call was to the bank. Jeremy laughs: “they were very polite – “thanks, but no thanks” – but we knew there were other options.”

Ice Blue Sky then took advice from Jim Collins, a funding broker. “Jim was incredibly helpful and pointed us in the direction of the alternativebusinessfunding.co.uk portal as it had a wide choice of alternative funding options that may better suit our needs.. I went online, completed the short form, and was given the green light for a number of options to consider including pension-led funding.”

Due to circumstances, the first meeting between Ice Blue Sky and Clifton consultant, Anthony Malcolm, was at Reading Services on the M4. “Despite the location, Anthony was absolutely superb from the start and we felt we could totally trust him. The approach was completely different from other funders, the professionalism was superb and he dealt with detailed and probing questions and never let any issues lie.”

According to Jeremy, the process to set up a SSAS and arrange an independent valuation of their business’ IP took just a few weeks, but was made easy by Clifton. When the valuation arrived, he was pleased with the outcome. “Our business plan and forecasts were already in place and we knew they were realistic. I also knew there was IP value in our event management software, but I was surprised at the positive value in the Ice Blue Sky brand, even though we had been in business for eight years. Because we, and independent experts, had to look at the business in minute detail it was very re-affirming that we were on the right track.”

Now, with pension-led funding in place and funds available, Ice Blue Sky is looking to the future confident that their pension pot will benefit as their business grows. Already Ice Blue Sky has gone through a process of staff re-structuring and recruitment, and with software development and enhanced marketing, the business is aiming for 40 staff members and boosting its turnover to more than £3million within the next five years.

As for pension-led funding, according to Jeremy: “It is an incredibly beneficial way for businesses of our size to gain funding. I will now always use Clifton and have no doubts in my mind they are fantastic at what they do.” Praise indeed.

Business

Ice Blue Sky was founded by husband and wife partnership, Jeremy and Charlotte Graham-Cumming. The company established an impressive client portfolio, including many blue chip IT corporates, designing everything from adverts to websites, brand design to event-management software but recognised a significant shift in the market in 2013 to content-based marketing and the opportunity to focus on their specialist sector – tech companies.

Funding needs

The company needed £50,000 to re-brand, grow the business and further develop their event management tool. Their bank said no so Ice Blue Sky took advice from Jim Collins, a funding broker. “Jim was incredibly helpful and pointed us in the direction of the alternativebusinessfunding.co.uk portal as it had a wide choice of alternative funding options that may better suit our needs. I went online, completed the short form, and was given the green light for a number of options to consider including pension-led funding.”

Result

With an accumulated pot of a little over £100,000, with little recent investment, Jeremy and Charlotte found that the process to set up a SSAS and arrange an independent valuation of their business’ IP took just a few weeks. “Our business plan and forecasts were already in place and we knew they were realistic. Because we, and independent experts, had to look at the business in minute detail it was very re-affirming that we were on the right track.”

Going forward

Now, with pension-led funding in place and funds available, Ice Blue Sky is looking to the future confident that their pension pot will benefit as their business grow. Already Ice Blue Sky has gone through a process of staff re-structuring and recruitment, and with software development and enhanced marketing, the business is aiming for 40 staff members and boosting its turnover to more than £3million within the next five years.

  • The Pavilions
  • Eden Park
  • Ham Green
  • Bristol, UK
  • BS20 0DD
  • T +44 (0) 0800 014 7099
  • E info@pensionledfunding.com
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All companies are registered in England – Registered office: The Pavilions, 69-71 Macrae Road, Ham Green, Bristol BS20 0DD. Clifton Consulting LTD (NO. 07207668) and Clifton Wealth Limited (NO. 07207206) are appointed representatives of Clifton Compliance Services LTD (NO. 06529425) which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.