Rail-mounted barrier stops pirates hi-jacking ships
Today Tom Hanks’ film Captain Phillips releases in the UK telling the true story of a merchant mariner taken hostage by Somali pirates in 2009; it’s had rave reviews. In the real world, the owners of Marine & Auto Security Solutions (MASS) have been getting similar accolades from the global shipping industry for their anti-piracy invention which stops pirates boarding ships and ransoming (or killing) both crew and vessel. The company has raised over £100,000 on equity crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to market its Guardian product internationally. This funding brings Crowdcube’s total funding to £14.5 million for over 70 British businesses.
The MASS pitch raised the money from over 80 investors. This funding brings Crowdcube’s total funding to £14.5 million for over 70 British businesses.
Guardian is a simple, ‘P’ shaped plastic device which slots over the ship’s guard rails and takes minutes to fit. It makes it impossible for grappling hooks, roofing ladders, etc to get a purchase on the rails because of the depth of the overhang. In tests, Royal Marines attempted to beat this anti-piracy barrier for two hours and failed. This British innovation is fixing a problem that in 2012 was estimated to be costing the global shipping industry nearly $6 billion (according to the One Earth Future Foundation’s report).
Teresa Stevens, the inventor, explains: “It is far safer, cheaper and more effective than the razor wire, water jets and armed guards currently used by ship owners. We’ve been inundated with enquiries and even someone trying to rip off our idea.”
David Stevens adds, “We applied for an Enterprise Finance Guarantee loan with our bank but were turned down, so we looked at crowdfunding. We loved Crowdcube’s simple model and the idea that it allowed the small investor to take a stake in exciting young businesses that they could help grow by inputting their skills as well as their money.”
MASS will use the investment for international marketing to cash in on its first-mover advantage, and to build up stocks of Guardian in the Middle and Far East, to reduce delivery times.
Luke Lang, co-founder of Crowdcube, comments: “MASS has come up with a fantastic product that can really make a difference to the safety of the sailors and ships in pirate-invested waters. And yet again Crowdcube has been able to support a great business idea that traditional finance routes like banks and angels are turning away, or asking for too much in return.”
Those investing in MASS are eligible for the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), which offers income tax relief of up to 30 per cent on the amount invested and no capital gains tax on disposal.