UK electric boat company Pixii has launched a crowdfunding equity campaign on the Seedrs platform with a goal of £350,000 (≈ $US8M). As of this writing the campaign has already reached 87% of that goal, with 30 days remaining until the May 31 finish.
Equity crowdfunding campaigns are a fairly recent development and mean that participants purchase shares and ownership in the company, rather than just getting a deal on the launch of the product or other incentive.
The Pixii offering is for 5.9% of the equity and individual shares are priced at £6.4 (≈ $US8.00). There have been 92 Seedrs investors so far who have contributed a total of £306,758 (≈ $585,000).
Pixii was started in 2020 and has sold two of its inaugural SP800 model, a 7.5m runabout with twin electric jet drives totalling 120kW of power and battery system with 150kW of energy storage. A quick estimate is an hour plus at top speed (150kWh ÷ 120kW = 1.25 of an hour). At cruising speed of 20 knots Pixii estimates a range of about 30 Nm. There is also an electric jetski in development, the S600.
UK electric boat company based in south of England
The company is based in Mudeford, in the south of England, a well known harbour town, beachside resort and centre for boating and watersports of every description. Pixii Co-Founder Charles Hall lives nearby and had built a very successful events company which allowed him to enjoy everything that living on the coast has to offer.
“Wind surfing, swimming, getting on the boat or sailing, for everyone here, it’s our lifeblood.” says Charles “I enjoyed all that and also had a motorboat, which I loved…but also hated because as soon as I put my throttle down, it was noisy, it was smelly, it was polluting, and it detracted from everything that I was trying to get from being in the outdoors. Like lots of others out there, I thought ‘well, why can’t it be run without all of that, run with batteries?'”
When the pandemic came along the entire events industry was hit hard, and it gave Charles some time to think. “Industry 4.0 has been thrust on us from COVID-19 and environmental degradation” he says. “So I decided to take the opportunity to help create a sustainable future in the small way I can by building a business that will have a positive impact on civilization and nature.”
He started talking to friends who started talking to friends and in an area where boating touches everyone, he soon connected with two others who had similar thoughts – and had skill sets that meshed perfectly with Charles’ events business experience.
Co-founders all keen on new, greener energy
Daniel Simpson is a highly experienced and pioneering engineer who had developed the BBC’s VOIP system for live broadcasting, which changed the face of news-gathering in the UK. Paul Luscombe had been leading project management teams in the retail sector for over eighteen years and had a reputation for delivering results and implementing new strategies. Both were also keenly interested in non polluting energy solutions.
Charles is the Managing Director of Pixii and heads up the sales and marketing efforts, Daniel is the Director of Technology and Paul is the Project Director. “We’ve developed quite a good relationship,” says Charles with a bit of a twinkle. “I want to find the customers and tell them how great our boats are, Daniel wants everything to be absolutely technically perfect and Paul sort of mops up behind us and sorts out anything and everything like supplier contracts, accounting, whatever it might be.”
When the team first started developing the S800 they had a couple of critical decisions to make – one being the being the type of electric propulsion system and the other being the hull material.
Electric jet drive, aluminum hull
Perhaps because of their surroundings, they chose electric drives with jets. The area around Mudeford is quite shallow and a jet got the nod over anything that would project below the hull.
For the hull itself they chose aluminum. It is light, strong, and has key environmental advantages. There is very little waste in the construction of the hull, and it is also completely recyclable at the end of its boating life. “We don’t want to add to all of the GRP out there that is somehow either going to get up-cycled or down-cycled or put into landfill” says Charles.
Another advantage of aluminum when building the prototype and initial models of a boat is that it doesn’t require a mold that locks everything in – adjustments can be made as the design is tweaked, which is inevitable with the first iteration.
That’s great for the prototypes, but not so great for scaling up production and reducing costs and manufacturing time, because the seams all need to be welded by hand.
The team went on the hunt and discovered a company in Germany that has simultaneous welding machines and have been doing hulls for military and police boats. Fortunately for Pixii they were looking to expand to the leisure boat market and the UK electric boat company came along at just the right time for an agreement to be struck.
“Welding by hand typically takes about 6 weeks,” says Charles, “but with their CNC (Computer Numerical Control) cutting and automated welding, that comes down to a matter of days. It is also totally accurate and precise every time.”
For all of the finishing details, there are lots of skilled hands on England’s south coast with experience working in facilities that do work for boatbuilders like Sunseeker and Oyster Yachts. Pixii is also working with Savvy Navi, a navigation app that calculates currents, winds and tides, to put together a proprietary widget that will communicate with the GPS, energy usage and battery status of the electric boat.
Information on Seedrs site
The crowdfunding campaign is for equity in Pixii’s parent company, NEVA Group. There are three subsidiaries under the NEVA umbrella: Pixii, focusing on the leisure boat and jetski market; Lyte Drive, which will concentrate on redesigning electric jet propulsion; and Hippo Commercial, which will dedicate itself to commercial electric boats.
More information can be found on the Seedrs site. To gain access to the full information about Pixii/NEVA Group you will need to register, and there are geographic and other qualifications for investors.