Major investment will help Derry family-run surfboard firm make waves across world
A Co Londonderry surfboard firm run by two brothers has secured a huge £500,000 cash injection aimed at sending the business global, and creating up to 18 jobs.
Ricky and Chris Martin have been making waves for the last two years building surfboards at their Skunkworks Surf Company firm in Coleraine.
Now, the business has received a major investment from private investors, including Andrew and Jillian Marsden and Co-Fund NI.
They've already pitched to Sir Richard Branson as part of the Virgin boss's Pitch to Rich scheme.
But now the pair have finally secured financial backing for the business, with plans to grow and expand this year.
The brothers have come up with a fresh solution which will eliminate the wear and tear of 'foamies' by designing and manufacturing the 'next generation' surfboards.
Co-founder Ricky Martin said the new deal was a "landmark investment for Skunkworks and one which will play a major role in helping us realise the ambitious targets we have set ourselves".
"We have recently returned from a trade mission in California where the interest in, and demand for, our products is huge - this funding can help us make inroads into the US market.
"We have just taken on a 10-year lease on new and bigger premises in Coleraine harbour and plan to employ 15-18 people in the next three years.
"This investment is a major vote of confidence, not just in Skunkworks, but in the local SME sector in general."
Law firm Arthur Cox acted on behalf of Skunkworks in the deal, which closed this week. "Skunkworks is one of Northern Ireland's most dynamic recent start-ups, having been recognised with a host of industry accolades," Alan Taylor, partner at Arthur Cox in Belfast, said.
"We look forward to seeing the firm continue its upwards trajectory as it seeks to establish its products in new markets."
"We are delighted to see completion on an equity finance deal which we know will help facilitate the company's exciting growth plans."
Founded in 2014, the Skunkworks Surf Company manufactures its own recyclable surfboards and stand-up paddleboards.
And they will be on sale throughout the UK and Europe from September.
Skunkworks is also now hoping to use the investment to grow its manufacturing capacity, as well as breaking into other markets, such as the US.
Skunkworks employs five people, with that number set to grow to eight by the end of June.
The original concept was developed as Ricky, who owns Alive Surf School in Portrush, believes surfboards could be made in a way which doesn't require the time, money and maintenance after every season, as foam boards get damaged.
The brothers have received support from Invest NI and have previously been to California on a fact finding trip.