Getting on board a sailboat to navigate from Quiberon to Belle-Ile rather than taking the classic ferry, the idea is appealing. The project leaders Ilians carbon-free maritime link, Léon Passuello, Lou Le Galliot, Jonas Duvivier and Ines Hoignet, carried out a field survey to see if tourists “bite” this new concept. Result: 90% of the 400 respondents said they were ready to make the crossing on a sailing boat.
The idea is good but the hardest part remains to be done: buy the boat. Very quickly, the crew abandoned the idea of the monohull to turn to multihulls, which are more stable and meet passenger transport standards. “There are two companies that manufacture this type of catamarans in France,” explains Léon Passuello. Problem, the project leaders have no budget. However, a used multihull costs 750,000 euros.
Two years to finance
They then start looking for funding. A two-year long race, to be explored in all directions. First of all, the “Tourism and roaming” call for projects allows them to win 5,000 euros. Then, the Maritime Initiative Prize at the Adventurers of the Sea Festival doubles the modest prize pool. They are still far from the mark. “We then launched a crowdfunding campaign on the Ekosae platform by highlighting the type of boat, without specifying that there was not yet any available … Sometimes, it is better not to say everything”, breaths the ‘contractor. This crowdfunding allows them to raise 37,000 euros. “Then the planets aligned. We found a boat! »In August 2020, they founded their shipping company in Plouharnel, in Morbihan.
Next step: investors. The quartet approaches the Business Angels of southern Brittany. About twenty joined the project, contributing a total of 200,000 euros. “They are not business sharks but the conditions are quite stiff: we had to sell 25% of the capital », Specifies Léon Passuello. Bretagne Solidaire Capital, the Guyomard Foundation, the Initiative Network are adding more than 40,000 euros to the pot. Then France Active Bretagne grants project leaders an unsecured loan of 70,000 euros. And, finally, a second fundraising of 170,000 euros from Business Angels. The account is still not.
A broker to borrow
It remains to convince the banks. The multiple sources of funding that they have been able to find generate a leverage. They land a deal on a loan of 300,000. “At a very bad rate. We were then recommended to go through a broker, ”he continues. The team turns to Prêtpro.fr. “Our broker fought to make a concrete case. We had 7 meetings and proposals at attractive rates! “.
In January, finally, they climb aboard Saona, a 20-meter catamaran. They launch their first crossing on the weekends of the ascent. With three round trips per day, the entrepreneurs of Iliens hope to transport 8,000 passengers over the year to reach a standstill. An achievable figure: 1 million passengers make the crossing each year.