How BGF is helping companies to expand internationally: Elvie & OSL

We can support your business to expand overseas, just as we did with these fast-growing femtech and counter-drone technology businesses.

7 September 2023

Are you considering international expansion opportunities for your business? As a minority equity investor, BGF provides patient capital to our portfolio of growing businesses across the UK and Ireland, helping them to scale until they achieve a successful exit. And this growth needn’t be limited to national expansion; BGF can also support your company to expand overseas – just as we’re doing with female technology (femtech) business Elvie and counter-drone technology company Operational Solutions Ltd. Read their case studies below to find out more.


Elvie was founded in 2014 by Tania Boler, with the goal of breaking taboos around women’s health and disrupting the overlooked category of femtech. The company has developed a portfolio of innovative connected devices for women, including the #1 best-selling and most talked about breast pump globally. Its products have been positively reviewed by Women’s Health, The Independent, and Cosmopolitan, which calls its breast pump “worth every penny”.

Total investment:


Potential for overseas growth:

Elvie generates the majority of its revenues in the US which is the largest breast pump market in the world. The business has also successfully diversified across product areas, geographies, and distribution channels.

How Elvie has overcome the challenges of international expansion with BGF’s support

BGF has been able to support Elvie with growth capital and expertise to help the business scale globally by investing in new product development, as well as sales and marketing. BGF’s commitment to patient capital and support over several funding rounds have enabled Elvie to successfully navigate the global supply chain challenges during COVID-19 and become profitable.

The benefits of international expansion for Elvie

International expansion has allowed Elvie to not only take advantage of the overseas demand for its innovative products, but also diversity its revenue channels in difficult macro environment. Global footprint has also helped to attract top talent and build a market-leading R&D function.

Operational Solutions Ltd (OSL)

Founded in 2010, OSL is a leading UK integrator of counter-drone and related drone and security technologies. It is a trusted supplier to global airports and the UK Ministry of Defence and has positioned itself at the forefront of technology by working closely with academia and winning research and development funding in the UK. OSL has strong partnerships across the industry ranging from leading defence organisation to niche small and mid-sized suppliers.

Total investment:

£8m (December 2021)

Potential for overseas growth:

In 2020, consumer drone shipments reached a total of 5 million, this number is expected to increase to 7.1 million by 2030. Goldman Sachs predict that drones will have a profound impact on society akin to GPS and the internet, thus demonstrating the potential for OSL to lead a market that is growing at an exponential rate. Following Gatwick’s runway closure due to a drone attack in 2018 reportedly costing the airport £50m, airports around the world are becoming increasingly concerned for their ability to protect themselves from drone disruption.

OSL has a longstanding deal with Heathrow Airport, which has made a multimillion investment in counter-drone technology, as well as a global partnership with Thales, a world leader in air traffic control. The business has promising plans to expand into Europe, Asia and Australia.

How OSL has overcome the challenges of international expansion with BGF’s support

OSL has achieved impressive growth in domestic markets and, with BGF’s investment, it is now embarking on an international expansion strategy with multiple trials ongoing at airports across the globe. BGF’s financial support gives OSL the room to focus on growing the brand worldwide and developing innovative products for global consumption.

The benefits of international expansion for OSL

International expansion would allow OSL to take advantage of a growing demand in the market. Its clientele of commercial airports, defence, high-profile individuals, and cities provide many opportunities worldwide for profitable growth. As a company that works closely with academia, OSL’s overseas expansion would serve the brand well and gives it a chance to work with researchers and developers overseas, ultimately contributing to the evolution of the product and allowing OSL to grow along with the evolving market and technologies.

Developing an international expansion strategy

International expansion (the process of expanding a business from a domestic market to an international market) enables companies to achieve significant growth in new territories and to capitalise on overseas demand. But a robust international expansion strategy is needed to ensure its success.

An effective strategy would consider a number of factors, in order to understand whether international expansion is both feasible and valuable for the future of your business. These include the geographies you’re planning to expand into, the resources required, how you’ll position your business in new markets, and the business model you’ll follow. Find out more in our international expansion explainer.

What challenges might you face when expanding internationally?

  • How congested is the new market? Is there space for a new company to enter or is it fiercely competitive?
  • A potential lack of overseas demand for your company’s product
  • Hiring adequate staff to facilitate growth into new markets
  • Tax, tariffs and trading standards
  • Supply chain risks – can you source the right materials in the new territory and, if not, how costly is it to import them?

How BGF can support your company’s overseas growth

As well as providing growth capital, BGF’s network of business leaders and industry experts means we can offer valuable expertise in international markets to support your company’s ambitious expansion plans. Meanwhile, our connections with Canada and Australia allow us to help businesses gain deeper insights into European, North American and Oceanic markets, and expand across the globe. And throughout your international expansion, BGF will remain a minority investment partner, keeping you in control of where your business goes.

If your business is considering its international expansion strategy, contact us today to find out how we can help.

This article was written by Deborah Ogunnoiki, Summer 2023 marketing intern at BGF.

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