When Justin Taverna and Sean Bourquin founded First Light Technologies in 2009, they discovered how challenging it can be to start a business during a recession. First Light designs and manufactures solar‑powered lighting products for pedestrian applications, such as outdoor pathways, as a cost‑effective, environmentally friendly alternative to conventional hardwired lighting.
The company decided to make the switch from a more consulting‑focused practice to a product‑based venture. But as it struggled to break into an industry with the main market in the U.S., sales did not materialize as quickly as expected. Without enough orders to buy in bulk, the company’s expenses soared. To get on track, it needed to raise awareness in its target market, and streamline manufacturing and distribution processes to maintain adequate margins, while continuing to invest in R&D.
Although finances were strained, the owners were reluctant to consider ownership dilution, which was the only option being offered by other lenders. “We weren’t willing to sacrifice our stake in the company,” say Taverna and Bourquin.
BDC, recognizing First Light’s potential at this crucial point in the company’s development, provided the company with a working capital loan and five months of deferred capital payments. The BDC team was also there to guide and support the owners with general advice.
Within two years of receiving BDC’s assistance, new products had been introduced, revenue had tripled, and the bottom line had increased eight times over. First Light was also able to improve inventory management, cash flow and marketing.
According to Taverna and Bourquin, “BDC’s financing gave us the support and flexibility we needed to follow through on our business plan on our own terms.”