Edinburgh entrepreneurs use leap day to launch biomass firm

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Two Edinburgh entrepreneurs used this year’s leap day to set up a fully-fledged business in less than ten hours.

Tim Barlow of digital marketing agency Attacat teamed up with Charles Henderson of environmental consultancy Climate Futures to create a firm targeting the biomass heating market.

Tim Barlow, founder of digital marketing firm Attacat. Picture: Contributed

Tim Barlow, founder of digital marketing firm Attacat. Picture: Contributed

The new business, called The Woodpicker, provides a price comparison and sourcing service for buyers of bulk wood pellets, enabling them to find “good quality, price efficient” fuel online.

Its creators hope the venture will help to improve the take-up of the low-carbon heating systems, encourage a switch from gas and oil boilers and ultimately reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Barlow said: “Charles and I have been toying with a number of new business ideas, but finding the time to put them into action is never easy. When we heard the guys at fatBuzz were using the leap year ‘extra day’ to raise money for a local hospice, the idea struck us. Why not use our extra day to start a new company?

“Developing a new business is often a long, drawn-out process, but it really needn’t be. What we have done today is prove that a business can be set up cost effectively and quickly - as long as you have a good idea and the right expertise and tools at your disposal, anything is possible.”

READ MORE: Tim Barlow: Building a business in a day

He added: “Although we have had some fun setting it up, our intentions are serious. This is not going to be a ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ business. We fully intend to develop a lasting legacy that one day we hope will lead the market and turn over in excess of £1 million.”

The Woodpicker, launched with less than £1,000 of investment, is initially offering a free service, focusing on helping customers find quotes for bulk pellet wood fuel deliveries. Barlow and Henderson plan to add more biomass products and services, as well as bringing in a new member of staff to run the day-to-day operations.

The venture was set up with help from Attacat staff and students from the University of Edinburgh Business School. Between 9am and 7pm on 29 February, the team worked on market research, creating a company name and brand, building a website, setting up supplier lists and developing online tools and resources.

Henderson said: “I’m excited by any sustainability business, but particularly this one, as I am wood pellet user and potential customer who sees the need for the service it offers.”