Please enable your browser to accept cookies and refresh this page to enjoy the best experience from this website and to dismiss this message.
In order to provide you with the best online experience this website uses cookies. By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies.OK

JPP Law Blog

Cromarty Firth Wireless Networks - A Start Up Case Study

Founded in 2016 Cromarty Firth Wireless Networks provided a solution to a problem that impacts rural areas across the UK, to the most rural areas of the Scottish Highlands. Cost effective, reliable and fast broadband.

We are a nation that has become dependent on broadband even in rural areas. Access to broadband is now almost a necessity for most domestic households and most businesses, even the non-tech type, need access to the technology broadband provides to remain competitive. For example, a sheep farmer needs to do online tax returns and internet access is required to provide business related data to suppliers, purchasers and regulatory bodies.

Initiative and Innovation to solve a problem

The Government has recognised the need for reliable broadband but they have focused on supplying small towns and villages leaving some of the most rural areas wanting. So, CEO of Cromarty Firth Wireless Networks, Mike Hicks, took matters into his own hands.

Mike has worked in the technology industry for most of his career. Using wireless point technology he created a WIFI link for his own property. His broadband access increased from less than 1Mbps to around 50Mbps. When his neighbours asked him provide the same WIFI access to their property he realised he had commercially viable service. The network began!

Funding the project

Mike initially worked with Tim Pearson, who also has a background in technology, and they self-funded the project. However, the size of the  network has increased at a rapid rate and building a network requires money.  The duo needed external investment. To secure investment they produced a pitch but their plan was to secure investment from people they knew. People from the world of technology who would see the potential of the network and local landowners who will reap the benefit. They approached 22 people with the investment opportunity and 13 agreed to invest.

The legals

Both Mike and Tim are experienced entrepreneurs having both run technology businesses previously. They had personally invited the investors and knew they were commercial astute and reasonable people but even reasonable people can argue. Tim had personally experienced a shareholders dispute in a previous business which he describes as, "not a nice experience" and so he was keen to ensure the investment was formally agreed with both a Shareholders Agreement and a Subscription Agreement. They found JPP Law via an online search and they approached JPP because of their obvious experience with start-up companies and their promise of reasonable charges.

Tim says of JPP Law, "The initial enquiry was made via an online form and within a couple of hours Mark Glenister replied with a sensible response. After a couple of phone calls it became apparent that Mark had much experience of dealing with companies at our phase. Mark was good to work with. He was always available to take calls and despite the number of calls and some unexpected amendments to the Shareholders agreement he held the fixed fee price quoted before work commenced"

Tim continues," there were also some unexpected problems with the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) advanced approval. The Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) offers great tax efficient benefits to investors in return for investment in small and early stage start-up businesses in the UK. However, the Finance Bill was being pushed through parliament and the rules were about to change and so to ensure the application was accepted we had to raise our investment much more quickly than we initially anticipated. The legal documents also required some amendments and Mark was happy to oblige."

The future

With investment secured the business continues to grow. There are 1000's more potential properties to add to the network and the team, which has now grown to 11, plan to reach all of these properties within the next two to three years.  To build the network they need good relations with the landowners which they have because they are bringing a valuable and much-needed service to the area, yet they deliberately keep the pricing simple, transparent and very reasonable. This is a local, friendly and ethical company run by astute and knowledgeable entrepreneurs. They should have no problems in reaching their goals.

Share This Post: