Former Cambridge University students Geoff Cunningham, Tom James and Duncan Morrison spotted a gap in the market where they could use cooking oil – combined with their unique proprietary processes – to create biodiesel that can be sold direct to the major fuel providers.
The trio, who have tapped into start-up support from Business Link West Midlands (BLWM), have invested more than £80,000 in launching Organic Drive, developing the company brand and, importantly, building a purpose-built 4,500 sq ft facility.
“There has to be a minimum of 5% biodiesel blended into all main fuels so the market is exponential and, in the UK, there are currently very few producers,” explained Duncan, who previously worked for BMW and Rolls Royce.
“Utilising the expertise of Cambridge University’s Chemical Engineering Department, we have developed a number of process innovations that allow us to reduce yield losses significantly. Basically, this means we can make it cheaper than anyone else.”
He continued: “When we are up to full capacity we should be producing 100 tonnes per week and the long-term strategy is to target the big fuel wholesalers like BP, Shell and the supermarket retailers.”
Organic Drive has used support from business adviser Anabela Ferreira to help it develop a business plan and with financial forecasting. The next stage is to continue to work with her on securing an expansion grant from Wyre Forest District Council.
Duncan concluded: “The potential is there for us to hit £2m sales in our first year and, thanks to the solid platform we have in place, we would anticipate this being the first step in our expansion into a UK leader.”
Budding entrepreneurs in the Wyre Forest are being urged to follow Organic Drive’s example and tap into a host of specialist support to turn their ideas into commercial reality.
Business Link West Midlands is currently offering a full package of assistance from immediate start-up advice and information sheets to networking events and one-to-one mentoring.
The service, which has assisted more than 400 individuals to start-up over the last twelve months, will help aspiring entrepreneurs with business planning, financial forecasting, sales and marketing, bringing new products to market and legal issues
Specialist provider NEW College is delivering the support locally and has advisers in place to assist another 150 start-ups over the next three months.
“Enterprise is going to be an important driver in helping the area continue its recovery from the recession and we’re delighted that we are able to still offer a comprehensive package of support to individuals in the Wyre Forest,” explained Lorraine Holmes, Chief Executive of Business Link West Midlands.
“We have a great team of enterprise providers in place, who can help individuals overcome some of the uncertainties they face when starting a business.”
To find out how you can benefit from start-up support, please contact Business Link West Midlands on 0845 113 1234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org