Flexible financing helped launch UFT Canada’s phenomenal growth.
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Back in 2019, UFT Canada’s founder Dr. Park, CFO Steven Lee and Office Manager Angela Henley, were the first people at the newly formed filtration technology company. As a start-up with great ideas, patents, and products in increasing demand, they were keen to quickly grow once they ramped up operations in 2020.
However, they soon discovered one of the common challenges of a start-up company: managing cash flow. Liquid Capital’s invoice factoring solution provided everything needed to be able to move forward with agility, allowing UFT to receive the cash for their invoices within 48 hours – almost 60 days earlier than they would normally receive it.
UFT Canada: a start-up itching to grow
UFT Canada manufactures air filtration technologies, which are used in a variety of industries and within a wide range of applications. These include waterproof and breathable textiles, health and safety products, medical and military clothing, and electronics. The existing and evolving demand for their technology is wide-ranging.
So much so, that the company has become a market leader and trendsetter in filtration technology, with over 500 patents. Clients include Polartec, Nike and The North Face, and the company exports many of its products to Europe.
Steven understood the opportunity and potential when he started the business and had big plans to hit the ground running. However, he soon discovered one of the common challenges of a start-up company: managing cash flow. And beyond that – finding a bank that would lend the kind of money that UFT needed to realize its potential.
Thankfully, the Business Development Bank of Canada recommended that UFT contact Liquid Capital, knowing that an alternative business lender was the best option for a start-up company that needed to accelerate its cash flow.
“The banks wanted to see at least two years of financial statements. Having products that were in high demand wasn’t enough and they wouldn’t touch us.”
Steven Lee, CFO, UFT Canada
A financing partner to solve cash flow issues
UFT’s cash flow issues stemmed from having to pay up-front for the raw materials that went into their products. The problem was the lag between the time they got paid and the time they needed to order more materials. Liquid Capital’s invoice factoring solution provided everything needed to be able to move forward with agility, allowing UFT to receive the cash for their invoices within 48 hours – almost 60 days earlier than they would normally receive it.
The company was able to order materials much faster, produce more product quickly and get even more invoices sent out. The company soon began growing at a phenomenal pace, despite having begun operations just before the pandemic hit.
More than just a financing partner
UFT has many clients in Europe, which can be an issue for many Canadian-based financing companies. Most Canadian companies that export their products deal predominantly with the US, so many financing companies don’t have much experience factoring to European invoices and as such, are less likely to be able to provide support.
The team at Liquid Capital had the experience and capability to invoice European companies, in European jurisdictions, and receive payment in euros. They provided flexible, accelerated funding, helping to preemptively mitigate cash flow challenges and providing guidance along the way.
“Liquid Capital completely understood the nature of our business as well as our company,” says Steven. This understanding was crucial for the Liquid Capital team to provide valuable advice that extended beyond immediate financing needs.
“The Liquid Capital team was so easy to deal with, very personable and easy to get along with, to the point that we were friends in the end.”
– Angela Henley, Office Manager, UFT Canada
Angela Henley stayed in constant contact with Liquid Capital. “They were so easy to deal with,” she says, “very personable and easy to get along with, to the point that we were friends in the end.”
Liquid Capital’s experience with helping start-up companies was also a big help to UFT. “When companies are growing rapidly, there are often big challenges,” they say. “We wanted to make sure that UFT could handle the growth. We take the time to understand our clients and their business, so we can provide them with better support. Sometimes we have to make complex decisions and we can’t do that without this understanding.”
The Liquid Capital team also helped Steven cope with supplier issues (one key supplier closed down mid-Covid), as well as the price of materials shooting up due to the pandemic. They also gave Steven advice when the company outgrew its original space. They helped UFT move from a 15,000 sq. ft. building to their new 40,000 sq. ft. premises, which involved a substantial financial penalty but needed to happen to sustain the level of growth.
The result: huge growth and a million-dollar bank loan
From a small start-up of only three people and zero revenue, UFT has grown in just over two years to a team of 22 people with revenue expected to reach $5.7 million by the end of 2022. All of this without having to hand over equity to outside investors. After working with Liquid Capital, UFT was eventually able to provide two years of financial statements, which led to a bank offering the company a line of credit of $1 million.
“UFT is a unique North American success story. It’s not a traditional manufacturing company, the electro-spinning nanotechnology it has developed is rare, which is why so many European companies wanted to do business with them. Such phenomenal growth during Covid is also rare.”
– Liquid Capital
Coming up: international expansion
So what does the future hold for UFT Canada?
“Continuing to make more sales and make the company grow is a top priority,” says Steven. “We’re talking to international clients and discussing setting up a manufacturing location in their location, in order to better secure the supply chain.”
UFT will soon expand its footprint beyond Canada, potentially to the US and Europe. As UFT strides ahead, Steven is still grateful for the help his company got as a start-up.
“Without invoice factoring from Liquid Capital, we would have great difficulties with cash flow,” says Steven. “It would have been difficult to grow so quickly.”