Sustainable bamboo hygiene brand The Cheeky Panda is set to become the first crowdfunded business to list on the London Stock Exchange.
The Cheeky Panda, founded by Perthshire entrepreneur Chris Forbes and his partner Julie Chen, makes bamboo-based hygiene products.
Since it was founded in 2016, The Cheeky Panda has sold over 12 million products.
These include toilet paper, baby wipes and tissues to markets in Europe, USA, China and the Middle East.
The Kenmore businessman, now living in London, estimates the firm will achieve £12m sales this year.
After raising £3.6 million in their latest Crowdfunder, The Cheeky Panda is getting ready to go public.
The Cheeky Panda set for the stock exchange
The Cheeky Panda had a slow start in Chris and Julie’s spare room, but after a trip to the factory in China, they launched a fundraiser to get it off the ground.
The funding campaign exceeded expectations and retailers wanted to take on The Cheeky Panda’s products.
Chris says: “We were able to demonstrate the success of the crowdfunder to retailers, and show that people want our product.
“In the first month, we ended up with £10,000 of sales.
“For a start-up company to hit the ground running like that is amazing.
“It got to a point of realising this business is going to be much bigger and we’re going to need to get proper resourcing behind it.”
They raised £500,000 in a further crowdfunder for 10% equity in the company. That allowed them to build a team of five people.
Today, The Cheeky Panda team has grown to 33 staff, across two offices in China and another in London.
The Cheeky Panda becoming mainstream
With a community of around 5,000 shareholders, Chris is looking forward to listing the firm on the London Stock Exchange.
His hope for the listing is that it will inspire other green entrepreneurs to follow his footsteps.
He says: “All the money in the world is useless if you haven’t got planet.
“You need entrepreneurs like us leading the way and showing that you can have green ethical businesses with products that are good quality and don’t cost the earth.”
“We want to inspire other generations of green entrepreneurs, so that people can look at everyday items, whether it’s bars of soap or shampoo, and say that doesn’t need to be in plastic, I’m going to try and ‘do a cheeky panda’ to that category.
“And if we have, in the public markets, companies that are green, we’re going to have a green economy.”
By growing their customer base and selling more bamboo products, Chris estimates they have saved 250,000 trees from being cut.
In three years, he hopes to have saved over 3 million trees by growing The Cheeky Panda.
Chris says: “We started off in organic shops, and now we’re in Waitrose as we launched there six weeks ago.
“We’re coming out from being in the trendy places to moving to more high street shops.
“We’re not so much in the fringes now, we’re becoming a bit more mainstream.”