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October 19, 2015

Flowfold raises $200,000 in equity financing for expansion

Courtesy / Flowfold
Courtesy / Flowfold
From left: Founder Charley Friedman, co-founder Devin McNeill and team member Nick Power
Courtesy / Flowfold
One of the new products, a duffle bag, will be released for this holiday season.
Courtesy / Flowfold
Another new product, a zippered tote bag, is available now.

Flowfold, a Peaks Island-based company known for wallets made from high-performance sail material, plans to increase its product offerings and retail accounts with $200,000 in recent equity financing.

The investment, along with winning the $30,000 prize at Gorham Savings Bank's LaunchPad Competition this summer, will help the company broaden its brand beyond wallets, co-founder Devin McNeill told Mainebiz.

The $200,000 in equity financing, raised from an undisclosed number of investors last month, will allow Flowfold to roll out more than a half-dozen new products this year and next, McNeill said. The company began selling a zippered tote bag on its site last week and plans to later release duffle bags, backpacks, accessory packs and other carry-related products.

"Really what this investment is all about is taking our brand to kind of the national level and really just scaling up to meet both the operational requirements of doing that and the resource requirements of doing that," McNeill said.

Right now, the company also has an office in Scarborough and five full-time employees. It sells to a few hundred retailers around the country, as well as through its website and Amazon.

In the next three years, the company could add between five and 10 new employees, McNeill said. He declined to provide revenue figures but said the company has been producing about 40,000 units a year.

Most of the products are wallets, but the company has sold other things, including a basic tote bag.

The company, founded by Charley Friedman with McNeill in 2010, started with making billfold wallets out of racing sail cloths, but production soon shifted from in-house on Peaks Island to facilities around the state, McNeill said.

The company's first expansion beyond the traditional billfold wallet came after a trade show in Florida in 2011, when it made card sleeves used to give out business cards to retailers.

"A few weeks after the show," McNeill said, "a significant portion of the retailers we gave cards to called to order card sleeves because they loved them."

Although not all of the new products will use high-performance sail material, the new lines will fit with the company's values of using materials that are lightweight, durable and sourced in environmentally conscious ways, he said

"I think we can take the message of Flowfold into a wide range of products," McNeill said. "And it's exciting that a lot of the DNA of Flowfold's brand has been a result of growing up in Maine. Charley and I are from here and are committed to helping out the workforce and the economy."

So far, production has been self-financed and bootstrapped through product sales, he said. To fund the the upcoming expansion, the founders pursued equity financing because taking on debt wasn't something they were comfortable with doing, McNeill said.

The notice filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last month said the company raised the entire $200,00 of its equity offering. McNeill declined to provide any information about the investors or the ownership stake Friedman and McNeill gave up for the funding.

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