In June 2010, whilst researching headphone amplifiers, Garry Wise, spurred on by his passion for both hi-fi and music, decided to build his very own. Shortly after he began the process he decided that he wanted to go one step further and develop his own range of hi-fi components. The opportunity to combine both his passion for music and an interest in UK based manufacturing has been hugely exciting for him. Two years later Kleio was formed, with a simple objective: to design and build high-end audio which makes music enjoyable.
Garry runs the business from home, but the manufacturing of his products takes place in Folkestone. Although he has not started trading yet, Garry has signed a deal with a well-respected retailer and will be launching his products in mid-2017.
Garry works for the business on a part-time basis as he currently has a full-time job as a Service Desk Manager within the software industry. Through Kleio Audio, he employs a part-time accounts/office administrator and is looking to increase staff numbers as the business grows. He is hoping to take on an apprentice within the next few months.
Garry has just announced the arrival of the first two products, result of over three years research, development and engineering refinement: the K105 pre-amplifier and K135 integrated amplifier. Each product is manufactured in the UK, with a high percentage of internal components sourced from the UK and Europe. The K1 series components are machined from a solid aluminium billet and will be supplied with a five-year warranty. The next few years will see many more products join the Kleio family. Kleio Audio is also proud to be part of the official ‘Made in Great Britain’ campaign.
Garry admits that he has faced many challenges whilst starting the business, and continues to do so. The main challenges he experienced were concerned with funding. Prior to applying for a Start Up Loan Garry needed to show that he had something tangible in order to secure funding and prove that he had a viable business idea. He believes that it is very difficult for organisations to believe in an idea, but he was fortunate enough to be accepted for grants under the former Manufacturing Advisory Service which helped him to produce a very rough working prototype – this was used evidence as part of his application for a Start Up Loan. Other challenges have included suppliers not producing the required quality, lost packages, and trying to juggle a busy working life and home life as a father and husband.
Kleio Audio does not currently trade internationally but Garry is currently looking to work with international distributors to promote the brand overseas. He hopes that this, combined with an increased brand awareness in the UK, will make the products more attractive to potential retailers in the future. Garry also plans to add further products to the K1 series alongside developing other product ranges.
Garry took advantage of the mentoring support on offer and found it to be an excellent and helpful service. He says:
“My mentor is always available and always assists with the best interests of both the business and me personally. During some recent challenges, he has been providing excellent advice based on previous experience, as well ensuring I am kept on track with my own personal objectives for the business. I would recommend mentor support to anybody considering a Start Up Loan.”