High fliers wanted: high risk, low pay. Finding skilled salespeople - without cash.
Powder-coating is the thick, supposedly germ-resistant paint that the surface industry applies to refrigerators, microwaves and hospital handrails in the interests of hygiene. But powder-coating isn't perfect.
It still has nooks and crannies in which germs multiply. Which is where Harry Brodie and Rainer Clover come in.
Already successful civil engineers and consultants, they came up with the idea for a bactericidal product, BioCote, that could be added to existing powder-coating products to wipe out bacteria that cause e.coli, salmonella and staphylococcus aureus. Says Lisa Perry of Wolverhampton University, employed to develop BioCote: 'It's a simple idea with huge potential.'
Two years and £250,000 later, the idea had become a marketable product.
But, other than a DTI SMART award of £45,000, Brodie and Clover were on their own. The potential market was huge: in 1995 alone, 517,000 tonnes of conventional powdered coating were used worldwide. But no major manufacturers seemed to be interested and funds were rapidly running out. A talented, experienced salesperson was needed to create a buzz about the product.
But how does a company with little or no money attract a high-flyer with £100,000 earning potential. The pair ran an advertisement in an industrial surfaces trade journal headed 'Become a millionaire!', offering £25,000 per annum salary with an additional 10% slice of the equity. Other start-ups with high growth potential and no capital, such as Apple, have successfully used this strategy. BioCote also attracted high-quality applicants but Brodie was so excited by his own advertisement that he decided to take another 10% of the equity and do the job himself.
Sarah Gracie is a senior writer at Venture Capital Report.