A MILLION-DOLLAR fund has picked out its latest young entrepreneurs to support.
Joyce Adderley’s Bahama Mushrooms and Brandon Pearce’s Unique Rentals are both being supported through funding from The Investment Group, in a move that is part loan, part equity.
Mrs Adderley, 32, is a married mother of five, who launched her business in 2017. The former teacher turned home-schooling mom launched the business as a way of helping the family finances, and drew upon her father’s experiences as a farmer.
She grows organic gourmet mushrooms - a variety of oyster mushrooms, shitake, lion’s mane and chestnuts - using hydroponic tents to control the growing process. She tapped into grants from the government and the Port Authority and the business grew quickly.
“We are at the point where we have been contacted by some food stores, but our facility is small, so we need to expand to be able to meet demand,” said Mrs Adderley. “With backing from The Investment Group we’ll be able to move. The new space allows for new grow without tents, in addition to incubation, spawning, storage and lab areas.”
The adventure in “fungus land”, as the entrepreneur affectionally dubbed it, has had its share of ups and downs.
“It’s been exciting. Even though I’ve had failures I learnt something with each of them. I’ve lost an entire grow, meaning my whole crop had to be discarded which taught me about molds and different types of contaminations. I then learnt what to look out for the next time around,” Mrs Adderley explained.
“It’s been a roller coaster ride for sure. There are days when you feel like you could conquer the world, then there are days when you feel like, ‘What am I doing and what was I thinking?’ That’s fine, as long as you push through and know your goal.
“I became an entrepreneur for my family. My husband is my number one supporter. We have five children to think of, so I want to leave something behind for them when I leave this earth. I’m not just pushing for me. I’m pushing for them.”
Mr Pearce is a 29-year-old tour operator who launched his scooter rental business in 2010, marketed to cruise ship passengers.
“I started with five on a rented lot in the downtown area for about a year before bringing on a partner and trading up to a high traffic location in closer proximity to the busy waterfront with coveted access to cruise ship passengers,” he explained.
Mr Pearce increased his fleet by 10. In 2013, he said he was among the first to bring two dune buggies on stream. Then, lightning struck. Relying on his partner to keep current with the lease, Mr Pearce was surprised when the arrangement fell through leading him to temporarily shutter the business in 2017.
“I realised I needed to structure the business better, seek adequate funding and do it properly, not half-way,” he said.
“I slowly put a business plan together, found some new vehicles which I loved, put a business plan together for the excursions, contacted the cruise ships and provided them with a taste of the proposed tour, which they loved.”
Mr Pearce envisioned a Hummer excursion featuring a scenic drive around New Providence with beach time, snorkeling, kayaking, food and drinks at Nirvana Beach. The plan was to deliver two three-hour tours a day accommodating 18 passengers per tour.
“If you want something, you have to have faith in it and believe it could work. You keep pushing and you don’t let people tell you it can’t be done,” he said.
He approached The Investment Group to provide the necessary funding to purchase the vehicles - and was successful in his bid.
Mick Holding, chairman of The Investment Group, said: “Both stood out as unique, quality candidates from the 63 which originally applied for funding.
“What impressed us about these two people where them, themselves. They were convincing about their business plans, giving us the feeling, they can deliver. This is not just a funding group. We also offer guidance and mentorship. If that’s going to work, the personalities need to be right as well.
“We can stay in with our equity stake. We can reduce it, or bail out, whichever we want to do.
“The most important part of it is we have agreed to the formula for the exit so if at any point in the future we want to trigger it either in part or whole it is predetermined now what that process entails.”
The pair marks the fourth and fifth commercial enterprises the $1 million fund has dropped money into since its 2017 launch with newly acquired stakes in three companies – United Data Technologies Limited, K.W. Paving and Global Energy Solutions Limited.