15/06/2007

Finance Wales helps "Conka" Design Solutions

Four ambitious graduates with an eye for innovative ideas are aiming to take the design world by storm with financial support from Finance Wales.


After spending the last 18 months of university putting together a business plan, Daniel Ashman, Chris Facey, David Poole and Mark Hodge, started their own design consultancy, Conka Design, just weeks after leaving education. One of the first concepts for the ex-University of Glamorgan graduates, a stylish bottle opener, attracted widespread interest and the company was inundated with enquiries for orders from leading online and high street retailers.

With the support of a loan from Finance Wales, the company is on target for expansion to cope with demand for its services just weeks before they take the “Redman” bottle opener to market from their base at Barry Waterfront in the Vale of Glamorgan. Since they established the business in August last year they have already designed a range of concept products for clients - from cigarette bins to stools, and educational toys to a sports asthma inhaler. And the clients keep coming back for more.

“To get into the design sector is quite difficult as it’s a very competitive market. We knew we had the ability and the expertise in product design. We saw a niche in the market and decided to go for it. We’re also quite unique in Wales and aim to become a complete design house, offering everything from product concepts to graphic and interior design,” said Dan Ashman. “It’s been an exciting time. We needed a loan to help start the business and our families chipped in. We then needed further funding and Finance Wales provided us with what we needed to get things going and bring our first product to market.”

Since the Redman bottle opener appeared on the British Design Innovation website’s homepage last year, and being inundated with order enquiries as a result, the company has already received firm orders from companies including online retailer firebox.com. The company has also established a sleek website promoting its concepts and design abilities at http://www.conkadesign.co.uk to back up its marketing campaign.

Rhiannon Wilkinson, Investment Executive at Finance Wales, said: “The potential for Conka Design Ltd is enormous. The four founders knew they wanted to run their own business while at university and with pure determination and the support of a range of organisations they have achieved a great deal in under a year. “The Redman bottle opener soon attracted interest from leading retailers. However, they needed funding to take the design to production and a loan was the best option for them. Finance Wales was pleased to provide the facility which has ensured the first stock is on target for delivery within weeks.”

The company was recently named as a runner-up in the prestigious Shell Livewire Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2007 awards and has received an award from the Welsh Assembly Government for its ‘social responsibility’ due to its commitment to sustainable design.

Finance Wales – a wholly-owned subsidiary company of the Welsh Assembly Government created to provide commercial funding to SME’s – provides a range of funding opportunities, including loans, to businesses that have the ability and potential to become successful but lack the necessary investment.