Ecomix make a coco peat (coir fibre pith) soil substitute for greenhouses and hydroponic farming. When trying to expand his business, owner Martin Vadakekuttu replaced his usual trade finance arrangements with UnLock, with superb results.
You may not be aware of it, but plants grown under plastic and in greenhouses don’t thrive well in soil. Farmers using these methods prefer a growing medium called cocopeat, which is extracted from the fibres around the husk of a coconut.
This is where Ecomix has found a market with a large and growing demand. After starting the business in India in 2011, Martin Vadakekuttu’s company entered the Australian market in 2014. It was when they teamed up with Marketlend that the business really took off, growing its annual revenue from $0.5 million to $8 million in under a decade.
Finance alternative better than the banks
“We were using a mix of supply chain finance and line of credit facilities,” says Martin, “but the demand for our product was huge and we were having trouble getting extra stock, so we needed a better option.”
After talking with various banks, Martin realised that they weren’t offering what he needed.
“The banks wanted my house as security, and they didn’t really make much effort to understand how this business works. We needed a way to extend the payment terms on our supplier invoices so we could smooth out our cash flow, and UnLock was the answer.”
Smoothing out the troughs
Ecomix’s clients tend to pay towards the end of the financial year and in December, which can mean some lean periods, especially in the third quarter.
“March through to June we don’t have a lot of money coming in,” says Martin, “but with UnLock, we can extend our payment terms out to 90 days, which gets us over that hump. We can pay our suppliers on time and keep our stock up to acceptable levels, without paying high-interest rates.”
Martin says that UnLock is particularly suited for trading purposes.
“To be cost-effective, this type of finance has to enable you to generate sales. If you’re running a business that’s hungry and needs funding to grow but is being held back by cash flow issues, then UnLock is ideal. It’s cheaper and more flexible than the banks, and the security is the business itself.”
UnLock has also simplified the administrative side of things for Ecomix.
“We just pay off somewhere between $50 and $80k a week,” says Martin, “and as we stick with the same suppliers it’s made the whole process very simple. We see Marketlend and our suppliers as very much part of the group, they’re very easy to do business with and their support is first-class, the people in their call centre are really helpful.”
A vehicle for growth
“I’m a big advocate for UnLock,” says Martin, “and I encourage my suppliers and friends to use the product, because I know they’re all on top of things in their own businesses.”
“For anyone in a trade business who is disciplined and has a clear understanding of their cash flow and their margins, then UnLock is the ideal vehicle to grow the business.”