I was fortunate enough to attend the launch event for e-Go Aeroplanes earlier this week at Conington Airfield in South Cambridgeshire. The company handed over its first serial aircraft to its first customer, formally marking the start of production. The sun was shining, drinks were flowing and the excitement among friends, family and investors was palpable.
And as the theme for Goldfinger started playing, you couldn’t help but picture how at home James Bond would have looked in the ultra-light aircraft.
Described as a ‘fun flying machine’ by its founders, the e-Go plane is purely about the thrill of the ride. It’s quiet, efficient and requires a simple microlight license to operate, so it offers a great introduction to flying. Customers are advised to pack an overnight bag, stow their map and snacks in the cockpit, and take to the skies – in true 007 style.
We at SyndicateRoom first came into contact with e-Go back in 2014, in the early days of the business, when the team was looking for funds to support growth.
What was most fascinating and notable about the e-Go prototype was that it was genuinely new. The team designed a vehicle that met the requirements of the Civil Aviation Authority (which had recently eased the red tape that had constricted developers of single-seat aircraft) and borrowed technology from F1 racing, namely in the form of the rotary engine. Sorry, I’ve got to geek out about this – what interests me most is the gap in the market the plane fills. For roughly the cost of an expensive automobile you can own your own plane, and that’s simply amazing.
Chief designer Giotto Castelli, a seasoned aeronautical engineer from Italy, was drawn to the UK because of its business-friendly climate and ended up in the innovation hub that is Cambridge.
As with all of our rounds, e-Go needed a lead investor to contribute at least 25% of the overall target. Hermann Hauser, Founder of Acorn Computers and its spin-out, ARM Holdings, was secured along with Marshall Group, aeronautical experts and owners of the Cambridge Airfield; and the astronaut Michael Foale. In addition to these investors, e-Go secured some funding from a government-backed investment fund called the Angel CoFund, which, similarly to SyndicateRoom, aims to co-invest with experienced lead investors.
With all of the pieces of the puzzle in place, e-Go went on to successfully close the round just shy of £1m. Imagine that, an airline business built with just £1m… eat your heart out, Boeing.
It’s been fantastic to keep close to e-Go’s progress as the company has developed. By coupling a unique idea with a passionate team and a lot of hard work, the company has reached a significant milestone.
We’re incredibly proud to have been part of that journey and look forward to watching e-Go as it continues soaring to new heights.