On the up Rebecca Smith · 5 November 2015
Halcyan: Fusing sustainability with practicality to tackle the UK’s billions in wasted energy
Sam Mant spoke to Business Advice about how her interest in sustainability led to a new business endeavour which aims to transform the UK’s hard water problem. A passion for the environment and sustainability had marked Sam Mant’s career path from an early stage she had studied for a degree in geography and a background across the charity sector was revolved around sustainability. So when she found the chance to combine these interests with her career as a small business owner she jumped at the opportunity. She was already running another company Three Sixty Services, a plumbing firm, when she came across Halcyan water conditioner overseas and thought it would be a great product to bring to the UK. She pointed out that 60 per cent of the UK population suffers with hard water that harms our homes, ourselves and our businesses. It contributes to billions in wasted energy, equipment and time, and now Mant has the rights to Halcyan, she’s hoping to help solve that problem initially at home, and then globally. it doesn’t use any chemicals, it requires no maintenance, it’s a permanent fitting and quite simply does the job, so it’s both cost-effective and sustainable, Mant explained. It’s all in the early stages at the moment, with just Mant and a part-time assistant running the daily business, but she hopes to capitalise on the opportunity, which could see between two and four million in turnover in the next five years. As she was already running a business, Mant admitted balancing both was a real challenge. So, when she saw the accelerator programme ESpark advertised, the opportunity to receive support and guidance was not as pressing as the opportunity to have a separate working space. the home away from my other office has been crucial. I felt I was constantly being sucked into working on the parent business, so having a dedicated space away from it was very important for me, she added. The other pluses however, were also a draw. There’s nothing like working with a network of enthusiastic and like-minded people. It soundsclichd, but it’sclichd for a reason. A particular benefit for Mant was that she could take things to mentors there, and you’ve got criticism and other brains on tap and you don’t have to pay a professional. it speeds up decision-making no end. Small things can become really big when you’re alone. She had done some training before, but fundamentally feeling part of something? means you’re obligated not to let others down too. There’s a renewed energy on my part, because I don’t want to let those down who have invested in me. The contacts too, were invaluable. I now have a senior lady at KPMG working on figures for me which I never would’ve had before. It’s where you get stuck so many times as a small business being able to afford these sorts of things, she agreed. Spending money on getting professional advice is too big a luxury for most small firms, so the opportunity to receive it for free through an accelerator programme is a real advantage. Mant also feels there’s a huge amount of really good free advice out there. Do you due diligence and look around online, she advised. If you consider which company or person you’d most like to receive advice from on a certain topic, then check if they do provide anything online about it. Mant said while many small businesses assume we’re inconsequential and these big places won’t be interested in providing us with advice, but many times that just not the case.
ABOUT THE EXPERTRebecca Smith
Rebecca is a reporter for Business Advice. Prior to this, she worked with a range of tech, advertising, media and digital clients at Propeller PR and did freelance work for The Telegraph.