Businessman sells home to fund big global expansion

Picture: Malcolm Wells

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A BUSINESSMAN has taken the plunge and sold his home in a bid to bolster his firm overseas.

Russ Cole, founder of IT software and solutions company ESL Group, had to jump into action after receiving an unusual late night call from his Singapore-based strategic partner.

A leading fast-food chain needed assistance after 20 per cent of the cakes it was transporting were spoiling en-route to 1,000 outlets across the humid country.

Russ and his team got stuck into the challenge and, with the company’s software integration and smart sensor microchips, found a potential answer to the costly problem.

Within days of the call, ESL was awarded a pilot project with the local systems integrator. If successful, it could win a £500,000 contract.

Russ said: ‘I sold the family house in March to fund our business development in Singapore. The pilot scheme we won, which could pave the way for a £500,000 contract, means the risk was worth taking. We have since won key projects with other large organisations.’

Russ believes his business is ready to reach into territories in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

He opened the firm at Fareham Innovation Centre in Faraday Business Park in 2016 and said he wouldn’t have had the confidence to go ahead with his overseas aspirations without the help of the centre’s innovation director Richard May.

Russ said: ‘We would not have opened up in Singapore without the help of Richard.

‘He spoke of the opportunities and pushed me in the right direction with a trade mission there in October 2016. I spent a month in Singapore and soon realised that ESL’s future is very much in that region.’

Director Richard said: ‘ESL is the latest firm at centre to fly the trading flag for Britain.’

‘Our support can be the springboard that enables occupiers to consider and win contracts around the world.’

The centre is full, with 43 businesses occupying its units. Due to the successes of these firms, an expansion project will begin in 2018 to double the centre’s size and create 33 new offices.