When Y Bell Group (trading as YBell Fitness) needed finance to help fulfil a major order from a US client, its status as a relative newcomer stood in its way. Then an email from Export Finance Australia arrived and turned the business’s fortunes around.
YBell Fitness is an innovative fitness business with a flagship product; its patented 4-in-1 fitness tool. Invented in Sydney’s Bondi, the YBell can be used as a dumbbell, kettlebell, dual grip medicine ball and push-up stand, and comes in five different weight sizes.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, YBell Fitness had started expanding into North America, Europe and Asia. According to David Sigler, Interim CEO, Chief Commercial Officer and General Counsel, everything had been going well for the business. There were regular sales to global distributors and dealers, as well as to the direct-to-consumer market. However, as a result of COVID-19, this changed very quickly.
“Everything suddenly stopped,” said David. “Shipping was disrupted and lots of things ran off the rails. We were in a very tight cashflow situation.”
At the same time, a popular US gym franchise placed a large order for YBells. To fulfil the order, David’s team had to find enough working capital to manufacture and ship the products.
“At this stage, we’d looked into bank financing, standard overdraft financing and trade financing through the banks,” said David.
“However, we'd only been manufacturing the goods ourselves for effectively one year, so we didn't have a track record that would allow us to get funding,” he said.
When David saw an email from Export Finance Australia land in his inbox highlighting export loans, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
The support the business needed
YBell Fitness applied for support through Export Finance Australia and was approved for a direct loan to help it fulfil the contract with the US gyms. This also freed up enough cashflow to help the business adapt to meet the pandemic’s changing marketing conditions.
“We could see the shift to people buying online – there was a huge opportunity there for us,” said David.