A heavy focus
on lighter products



The past four years have been busy for eFOLDi’s CEO Sumi Wang, to say the least. Since entering the mobility arena with her father’s unique folding scooter prototype in 2017, she has reached a series of impressive milestones. The mobility start-up has successfully raised millions in investment through crowdfunding, released a popular product onto the market, used television advertising to reach customers, bolstered its management team and secured noteworthy private equity funding.

Now, eFOLDi is preparing for the next stage in its journey and is putting the mobility retail trade at
the heart of its plans. The company has recently released two new products which it is confident will
charm dealers.

Developing its dealer network

The company’s flagship MK1.5 scooter has been a runaway success for eFOLDi, generating millions
in sales in its first year. Primarily focusing on a direct-to-consumer model, however, the company has
yet to develop an extensive network of retail partners in the UK. It is something Tim Ross, industry
veteran and eFOLDi’s new National Sales Manager, plans to change in the weeks and months ahead.
“Our focus is on building a network of like-minded partners who see the value in selling quality
products that are unique from others on the market,” he explains. “We are already working with
some dealers, so we’ll be looking at how we can work closer with them while selectively adding new dealers
to our network. We are certainly not looking to open up every single retailer in the UK just to sell them a
product or two a year.

“This is about working with and supporting quality dealers that want to get behind our products. So,
it is important that we work with retailers that see our products as adding value to their range.”

Alongside building the UK network, Tim adds that the growing company is also looking for export
partners. Candidly, Sumi acknowledges that the company has learned an important lesson from the launch
of its first product about the importance of satisfying the needs of end-users and retailers.

“We decided to sell direct and use television advertising after we received feedback from dealers
that our MK1.5 did not always fit in with their product portfolios. It was quite different from the traditional
scooters that are in the industry,” she says.

“Good and bad, that feedback was invaluable and I’d like to thank all the dealers that shared their
thoughts with us. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be where we are today with two new products which
we have made with feedback from retailers in mind.”

Made For The Trade

The company hopes its new and ultra-lightweight eFOLDi Lite mobility scooter and Powerchair will
prove a hit among mobility retailers. “Our two new products are created more as retailer products that fit into a dealer’s showroom,” continues Sumi.

Weighing just 15kg, its Lite model is the “world’s lightest, most compact, folding mobility
scooter,” claims the company. Capable of folding into the size of a small suitcase, the Lite features
a useful handle for users to easily manoeuvre it when folded and has suspension and large wheels
making for a comfortable ride, says eFOLDi.

At 14kg, the company also asserts its new Powerchair holds the title as the “lightest, most compact power
wheelchair in its class.” Boasting a range of 12 miles, the fully airlinecompliant device has the added
benefit of an attendant control as standard.

According to Tim, the lightness will help the devices stand out in the busy folding powered mobility
market. “I’ve been in the industry for a long time and seen a lot of folding mobility scooters that are just too
heavy for some customers to lift into a car boot. The alternative is scooters that have to be
disassembled, which can be timeconsuming,” he says.

“The lightness of our products will mean there will be customers who will only be able to lift an
eFOLDi product and not others in a showroom. It enables dealers to add products to their portfolio that
will allow them to meet the needs of more customers.” He also points out that due to the compact design when folded, the devices take up less room in showrooms where space is at a premium.

Despite their light weight, however, Sumi – a professional engineer by trade – emphasises that
the devices are robust and capable of carrying heavier weights thanks to innovative engineering.
Impressively, the Lite scooter can carry eight times its own weight, with a carry capacity of 120kg, while
the Powerchair can carry almost nine times its own weight at 135kg.

“We have been able to reduce the weight thanks to our clever, patented design,” she says.
“Because of our unique mechanics, the way our products fold is different to how others in this industry fold
– which typically fold in a scissortype motion. Our design means that the products can carry more weight
while also being lighter.”

Making B2C and B2B work

Arguably, the main question for many dealers is how the company will make its B2C and B2B
operations work together. “We want dealers to see our marketing and TV adverts as
complementary and something they can benefit significantly from,” says Sumi.

“Our TV advertising is not only raising awareness of the MK1.5 but also of mobility and eFOLDi
generally. It will encourage customers to go to their local mobility shop and ask if they sell an eFOLDi, rather than asking if they sell a mobility scooter. We’ve already seen this happen a lot.”
Sumi adds that having the B2C arm selling the MK1.5 is key to paying for the advertising to
promote eFOLDi as a brand. Alongside its dealers enjoying the afterglow of its marketing efforts,
Tim suggests its B2C heritage also helps the company to offer greater support to its dealer network.

“Having our B2C arm means the company has had to invest in internal resource to handle technical
issues and provide customer service directly to end-users,” he says.
“It means we have great technical capacity in-house that is able to help any dealers with queries or any
support they need. We really see this as going beyond just offering new products; it is about forming a
partnership and providing excellent dealer support, customer service, aftersales support and product

Gearing up for the trade

Over the past two years of selling directly to consumers, eFOLDi has learned some difficult and valuable
lessons along the way. As Sumi emphasises, the company is in a much better position to meet the
needs of trade partners.

“Last year, we generated multimillion sales but we ran low on stock. As it was the first year,
we didn’t have previous sales projections to know how many units we would need and we were
surprised by just how popular it was,” she concedes.

“Our customers were great and very understanding but we know that can’t happen for our trade
customers so, during lockdown, we moved into a bigger facility. Now we can hold a significant amount
more stock than we could before. It means we are well placed to handle fluctuations and delays caused
by the pandemic and ensure we can meet the needs of our trade customers.”

Fortunately for the company, Tim’s three decades in the industry means he has an expert
understanding of what dealers want and need. Over recent weeks, he has been busy ramping up retail support across the board, ensuring eFOLDi can provide quick access to spare parts and stock, extensive product training, technical support and trade-focused point of sale material.

With two new products designed for the retail market, a new storage facility, big financial backing to
invest in infrastructure and R&D, alongside the injection of Tim’s trade experience, eFOLDi looks
well positioned to make this next engagement with the mobility trade a success.

“I would like to thank all the dealers that have helped us get to where we are today. Those that
supported the MK1.5 and those that told us what we needed to do to better engage with the retail
market,” finishes Sumi.

“I hope dealers can see that we have acted on that feedback and understand where we are going
and want to join us on the journey. Please get in touch with us and we would love to see how we can work

5 tips to get the most out

of your business mentor

by Kevin Ronaldson 
INDUSTRY ANALYSIS / Saturday 27 October 2018 /
Kevin Ronaldson

Kevin Ronaldson is an entrepreneur and business mentor. He previously built two financial services businesses from scratch to a combined annual turnover of £100m, with funds under management of more than £3bn. Kevin currently acts as a business mentor and he recently established the business growth consultancy Clarus Fortior.

Today is National Mentoring Day, a great opportunity for mentors and mentees alike to ask: how can get more value out of this relationship?

The fact is that there are some great mentors out there – many of them have built successful businesses in their own right and are in a position where they want to share their knowledge with the next generation of budding business leaders. At least that’s the position I found myself in after co-founding my latest venture.

However, not every mentor – no matter how successful in their own right – is geared up to be a teacher. It’s very much a two-way relationship and to get the most value out of it I find it’s always useful for entrepreneurs to come into the process with a clear set of ideas of what they want to get out of it.

My top tips would be:

1. Know your goals

If you run a business, often the main reason you want a mentor is to help you build, grow or manage your company. But it can be helpful to break these goals down with your mentor into the short, medium and long-term goals of the business.

These should be agreed within a three or five-year plan. Your mentor may also want to set goals per week or month, so you have a clear idea of what success looks like on a rolling basis.

In my experience, business owners with clear goals will tend to achieve greater success. A goal-oriented environment means decisions can be made more efficiently, as you will have a clear and focused sense of your objectives throughout the process.

Without clear goals, decision-making can become confused and counterproductive.

2. Work with your mentor to map out the journey

You have your destination, now you need to map the journey. This is the track your business will run through to get there. There will inevitably be twists and turns, so the planning should be intuitive, allowing flexibility for unexpected changes or new opportunities to be factored in, understood and reacted to effectively.

I would recommend working with your mentor to create a regularly updated business plan, a marketing plan and a product development plan. Depending on the business, you may also wish to plan for market research, fundraising and recruitment.

3. Get advice on team building

You should never underestimate the importance of the people around you. As William Blake wrote, “we become what we behold” – i.e. we inevitably come to reflect the behaviour and attitudes of those around us.

In my experience, collective endeavour is far more valuable than individual brilliance. However, this is only true if you create a team dynamic and culture that good people want to buy in to. Shared responsibility leads to a shared sense of purpose, ensuring your team will drive together towards the end goal. Sharing responsibility also means sharing the wealth created within the business – so never be afraid to bind the team in with equity, share options and bonus schemes.

The business case for diversity is also well-established now: in simple terms, your team’s diversity of background, thought and expertise will give the business a competitive advantage.

4. Have a ‘risk register’.

I would recommend spending some time auditing all potential risks, with a corresponding plan to mitigate each risk. I call this a ‘risk register’, as it allows risk to be understood and your responses planned in advance. By pre-empting risk, you know what to do if the worst happens.

Ask you mentor to help you create one. It’s important.

What would you do if you turned up to the office and it had burnt down? Implement the disaster recovery plan, of course! Without a plan, nobody would know what do. Future acquirers and investors will also want to know about your risk mitigation plans.

5. Learn how to outsource

As you grow you may need to outsource – don’t feel that you have to build every capability within your business. There are a range of new digital tools and services that can make core business functions both cheaper and more efficient. It could be useful to brainstorm with your mentor which of these are nest for your business.

Outsourcing will keep central costs lower and allows you to access expertise without the need to pay for full time staff –this is particularly true for marketing, HR and IT. However, make sure you run due diligence on any new supplier!

Published in UKTN 27. OCT 2018



5 tips on how to raise funds for your small business

by Kevin Ronaldson

Think beyond high street lenders and be prepared to answer hard questions, says Kevin Ronaldson of Clarus Fortior

Fundraising for any business can be a challenge – and this is particularly true for SMEs. Although there is no single approach that can guarantee success, the reality is that all funders and investors are looking for the same traits: passion, belief, dedication and a great idea that can be articulated quickly and fluently.

Whether you’re looking for start-up finance, scaled investment, development backing or funding for acquisitions, here are some useful pointers to improve your chances of success.

Look beyond the banks

It’s vital to research all the possible funding options and understand these in detail before you make any approach about fundraising. For example, there’s no point in seeking investment for your start-up by approaching funders who do not invest in start-ups or your chosen marketplace. Instead, focus on those that best fit your criteria.

I also find that business owners tend to overlook certain funding avenues. Crowdfunding, angel investing or small family offices could all have relevance to your business.

Considering the heavily regulated commercial lending environment in the UK, I also think that SMEs looking for development funding would be wise to look beyond the banks.

Know your business inside-out

The quality, fluency and passion of your pitch will be vital, but this should be balanced with a strong and concise grasp of the financial details. Your pitch should be tailored for the consideration of a “cold” and time-poor audience.

It might be useful to run a dress rehearsal that covers all the most challenging questions, with a trusted peer or mentor playing the role of devil’s advocate.

It’s easy to find yourself stumbling around the subject matter – but if you know the talking points in detail, you should be able to assume an air of knowledge and ownership.

Always provide hard evidence

The perfect pitch will cover all the key details that are most relevant to investors. For example, a section on risk and other potential downsides will show that you are not just an eternal optimist.

Other details to include will be market comparisons, a well-evidenced estimate of potential size, details about your leadership team and any opportunities for the investors’ exit.

The very worst tumbleweed moments come when an investor asks how much you are prepared to invest into this venture – so make sure you have prepared a clear and honest answer.

Keep your business plan current

Failing to provide a clear three-year business plan indicates that you do not have a clear plan of how the investment will be spent. If you’re spending my money as an investor, I need evidence of how it will help my investment to grow in value. We’re looking for guarantees about how your idea can be monetised.

As a rule of thumb, I recommend starting the fundraising process at least six months before you’ll need the money to ensure you don’t run out of time. This process will be a lot easier if your three-year business plan is kept up to date.

Scale up to beat competition

As your business grows, you’ll want to move towards a smaller number of large investors. For SMEs, you should consider groups of angel investors, wealthy individuals and boutique private equity groups.

Funding allows you to better control your key decisions around marketing, technology and acquisitions, which in turn means you’re better placed to steal the march on competitors who may not have funding in place.

Kevin Ronaldson is an entrepreneur and expert in fundraising. He previously built two financial services from scratch to a combined annual turnover of £100 million, with funds under management of more than £3 billion. Kevin is a business mentor who recently established the business growth consultancy Clarus Fortior.