Wave Q&A

Innovative solutions to the world’s single-use plastic problem are needed now more than ever, with hundreds of millions of tons of plastic currently circulating the world’s oceans. Eco-friendly phone case company Wave was founded in 2019 to help tackle the crisis and is now positioned for growth after taking out a Bounce Back Loan in 2020. Here, we speak to Co-founder Ross Longhorn about Wave’s biodegradable cases and the journey the business has been on to date.

Tell me about Wave. What inspired you to set up the business?

Wave was founded by three of us in late 2019 and started trading in 2020. Growing up in a small seaside town in the North East of England, we have seen first-hand the devastating effects plastic pollution has had, and is having upon our oceans. We decided that we needed to take action, which is why we created Wave. Our first product, Wave Case, was designed as a stylish yet biodegradable phone case made from wheat straw - which is a unique solution to tackling the millions of plastic phone cases that are disposed of every year.

How was the business affected by the coronavirus pandemic?

As a business, we have been fortunate enough to be able to adapt and see positive growth throughout the pandemic. A contributing factor to this growth was being furloughed from my full-time job, which gave me a risk-free opportunity to grow Wave and dedicate more time to it over the course of six months. In addition, with the country being at a standstill, and online sales being consumers' only option, taking out additional finance gave us an opportunity to increase our marketing efforts and scale the business.

Which of the government’s coronavirus loan schemes did you access and what did the funds enable you to do?

We applied for a Bounce Back Loan as we saw this as a unique opportunity to access finance quickly during a time when we were beginning to see an increase in sales but were struggling with cash flow - a common issue for many start-up businesses. Ultimately, the funds provided a safety net to expand the business, launch new products quicker than we had initially planned and pay suppliers on time.

How did you find the loan application process and what is the repayment status of the loan today?

Initially, the application process was slow due to the high volume of applications that banks were receiving. After some back and forth between the bank and ourselves, we managed to access the funds in around six weeks.

How is the business positioned now as we move into the second half of 2021?

Wave is in a great position, and we are on track to hit our targets for 2021. A month ago, I moved into the business full time and we are hoping our remaining two co-founders are not far behind me.

What advice would you give to other small businesses that have been adapting to new trading conditions in the last 18 months? 

It is difficult for us to comment being purely online at the moment. However, I think the pandemic has made consumers aware of the benefits of shopping with small local businesses and the positive impact this has upon the community. Our advice would be to share your story and provide transparency to consumers. They want to see the people behind the brand and who they are supporting.

Key takeaways:

  • Wave was founded to tackle plastic pollution in the world’s oceans and sells eco-friendly, biodegradable phone cases made from wheat straw: https://www.wavecase.co.uk/
  • While being furloughed from his full-time job, Wave Co-founder Ross Longhorn was able to dedicate more time to scale up Wave and develop its product offering
  • Wave accessed the Government’s Bounce Back Loan Scheme, which has now been replaced by the Recovery Loan Scheme: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/recovery-loan-scheme/
Richard Dawson
Article by Richard Dawson
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