News about 8 UK growth companies and/or accelerators + turnover in the GRID marketplace, 31st July – 6th August 2016:
Mindful Chef | Acorn Mobility Services £149m | Addison Lee £197m | Incisive Media | Crowdcube £2.7m | Laser Quantum £15.8m | Tails.Com £2m | Myflashtrash
Business: recipe box start-up that delivers healthy ingredients to people’s homes. Boxes contain gluten-free, organic products and recipe cards. Customers choose from eight weekly recipes and receive the ingredients they need for two to five meals. Has delivered more than 100,000 meals since it was launched.
Location: southwest London
Founders: Giles Humphries, 29, Myles Hopper, 27, and Robert Grieg-Gran, 30
1. has raised more than £1m from 189 investors — including grand slam tennis champion Andy Murray, Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton and rugby world cup winner Will Greenwood.
Mindful Chef and GOUSTO feast on £24m funding | Liam Kelly and Peter Evans, The Sunday Times. January 6 2019
2. sales last year were £8.5m
3. has raised £6m from the private equity firm PIPER. Humphries, said Mindful Chef would use the cash to add 12 new employees to its 24-strong team.
ACORN MOBILITY SERVICES: Founder’s £18.5m stairlift to heaven | Robert Watts, The Sunday Times. July 31.
Business: stairlift company. Founded initially to repair broken or secondhand models. He began making his own products only after spare parts became difficult to find.
Founder: John Jakes, 60, Yorkshire entrepreneur, who owns all of Acorn and now lives in Monaco, took a dividend of £18.5m last year.
Financials: Profits climbed to £17.3m on sales of £149m in 2014-15. This compares with profits of £9.7m and revenues of £136.5m the year before. Acorn’s profits have eclipsed those of a big rival. The most recent accounts for Stannah show it made a profit of £11.9m on record sales of £221.8m in 2014.
ADDISON LEE: Cabbie’s profit goes into reverse as Uber steps on accelerator | Daniel Dunkley, The Sunday Times
Business: taxi company
Founder: London cabbie, John Griffin
Staff: CEO, Andy Boland, former AA finance director
Financials: In the year to last August, post-tax earnings fell from £32.9m to £11.6m amid pressure from the American taxi-hailing app Uber. Generated sales of £197m compared with £196.6m the year before. Over the course of the year, the company splashed out £4.2m on a strategic review and £3.6m on restructuring costs, the latest accounts show.
Investment: taken over by American buyout house CARLYLE three years ago. The private equity firm, known for its billion-dollar investments in the aerospace and defence sectors, has considered selling the cab company several times. In 2014 it appointed Credit Suisse to find a buyer, but it called off an auction as Uber’s popularity soared.
the founding family are understood to have sold their entire equity stake.
1. Boland is pursuing corporate partnerships to help fight off its competitors and has launched Addison Lee technology in Paris and New York.
2. Last month the company acquired the luxury car fleet Tristar for about £30m.
INCISIVE MEDIA: Magazine publisher eyes £100m sale | Daniel Dunkley, The Sunday Times
Business: trade magazine publisher which owns titles including Risk magazine - the most lucrative part of the business - and the insurance magazine Post
Location: London, New York and Hong Kong
Founders: Tim Weller, CEO + Nick Rapley and James Hanbury
Staff: 750 people
Financials: generates earnings of about £10m a year
Investment: owned by the private equity firm ALCHEMY
1. Alchemy is exploring a £100m sale, working with the City adviser Arma Partners on a strategic review that is expected to lead to an auction process.
2. Incisive was once one of Britain’s biggest business magazine publishers, and was listed on the London market until a debt-fuelled takeover led by the buyout house Apax in 2006. Incisive struggled to cope with its debt burden and falling advertising revenues in the aftermath of the credit crunch, and was eventually seized by lenders in 2009. Royal Bank of Scotland’s restructuring division ran the business until last year, when Alchemy took control of Incisive’s loans and struck a deal to restructure its debts.
Business: Britain’s leading crowdfunding site has raised more than £180m for British start-ups and small businesses. Almost 300,000 investors are signed up to view the business plans of ventures seeking a cash injection. Of the 323 companies funded to date, Lang says just 23 have nosedived. There have been two successful “exits” for investors in the form of Camden Town Brewery and E-Car Club.
Location: HQ at Exeter University’s campus and offices in London, Cardiff and Barcelona
Founders: Luke Lang, 38 and Darren Westlake ....with personal savings from the co-founders and their fathers.
Financials: 2015 losses of £5m last on revenues of £2.7m; pre-tax losses of £1.9m, widening from £1.3m the year before. The company forecast profits of £5m within two years and was valued at £12m.
Investment: One backer is the corporate broker NUMIS, a City firm that has run numerous floats. Lang is currently fundraising for Crowdcube on Crowdcube. Since the pitch for a £5m cash injection went live two weeks ago, the company has rustled up more than £6m, with two weeks left to add more backers to its current 3,000. As part of the fundraising it will secure a further £1m from its existing investor, venture capital firm BALDERTON. The overall deal values Crowdcube at £65m.
1. “We’re ambitious. The long-term goal is to have an investor community of more than 1m.” says Lang
Special Report: UK Entrepreneur of the Year. With a little help from our friends, family... | Andrew Bounds, FT. October 4, 2016.
2. ...has raised £187m for more than 440 companies. Mr Lang also says due diligence is stringent ..around 10 per cent of companies that apply are put on the platform ...around two-thirds raise the full amount asked for.
3. Of £20.8m raised in multiple rounds, more than 570 private investors collectively invested more than £3m. In July, even when Balderton Capital put in £12m, another £3.8m came from individuals. Raised £8m on the site in August in its latest funding round.
4. REBUS, a claims management business, is the site’s biggest failure. It raised £816,790 from more than 100 people last year but is now in administration.
5. There have been two exits: the CAMDEN TOWN BREWERY, sold to AB InBev, and ECAR CLUB, an electric car sharing service, bought by Europcar. Crowdcube’s first public fundraising valued it at £2.5m, its most recent at around £65m.
Equity crowdfunding platform Crowdcube is steadily losing cash, with new fundraising on the horizon | Emily Nicolle, City A.M. 17 June 2018
6. Digital bank MONZO raised £2.5m on Crowdcube last year from 6.484 individual investors
7. .... revenues fell £200,000 to £3.8m due to sources of new campaigns on the platform drying up. Despite having previously raised an additional £1m in growth capital last May, its operating loss for the year ending last September came in at £4.7m, slightly reduced from £5.4m in 2016. At the end of September Crowdcube held £5.4m in cash on its balance sheet, which is forecasted to last the company a year...
8. Staff dropped to 79, following large intake of employees in 2016, increasing from 54 to 85.
9. ....first quarter of this year, doubling the number of pitches compared with the quarterly average from 2017. The company also surpassed the £400m mark for pledged investment through its platform in February, with twice as many new companies choosing to crowdfund for the first time via Crowdcube next to its nearest competitor.
10. ...2018 record first quarter ...second quarter saw funded company REVOLUT become a unicorn at a valuation 19 times greater than pre-Crowdcube.
Crowdcube, co-founded by Luke Lang, bleeds cash as revenues slide | Liam Kelly, The Sunday Times. June 17 2018
11. Thousands of backers of mouldable glue maker SUGRU lost out when, amid mounting losses and a breach of its banking covenants, it was sold to a German tape manufacturer last month at a fraction of its valuation at a funding round last year. Sugru’s 4,800 shareholders received just 9p in the pound. Investors in ticket reselling website VIBE TICKETS, which raised £600,000 on Crowdcube in late 2016, also lost out after it plunged into administration last month.
Crowdcube gives City the edge over investors in the crowd | Peter Evans, The Sunday Times. December 9 2018
12. Crowdcube …has inserted clauses into its latest funding round that would protect institutions in the event of an undervalued sale or a liquidation but leave thousands of retail investors out of pocket. …the “crowd” stand to lose money if Crowdcube is sold at less than a certain price, while the institutions will still make a return, according to the deal documents.
13. ....raised £8.5m last month from backers including DRAPER ESPRIT, BALDERTON CAPITAL and the commercial growth arm of CHANNEL 4, who were issued with preference shares in the funding round. The business also gave ordinary punters a chance to invest through a crowdfunding campaign on its own site. According to the documents, the ordinary shareholders, which include Crowdcube co-founders Luke Lang and Darren Westlake, will receive nothing if the business is sold for less than £19m. Lang and Westlake were, however, part of a senior management team that sold shares worth £2m to Draper Esprit as part of the deal.
Top crowdfunder Crowdcube pares back losses | Liam Kelly, The Sunday Times. February 10 2019
14. ...has lost a total of £18m since its launch in 2011, but it trimmed losses last year. .....hosted more than 140,000 investments worth £147m on its website last year, posted revenues of £5.3m and losses of £3m for the year to September.
LASER QUANTUM: Five years studying lasers at uni and then I saw the light | Laura Onita, The Sunday Times
Business: makes lasers - which cost up to £250,000 - for universities, research centres and chip manufacturers. Their products are used in DNA sequencing and biomedicine, military weapons equipment and high-end microscopy. It sources most of its laser crystals from Malaysia
Location: Stockport. Has two offices in America and Germany
Founders: Lawrence Gloster, 47 - who researched lasers at Manchester University until 1996 – Steve Lane and Alan Cox. All 3 own about 60% of Laser Quantum
Financials: produced profits of £5.1m on sales of £15.8m last year. Sales are set to hit £19m this year.
Investment: started with help from a business angel and a university professor who pledged £60,000. More funds arrived two years later when they were awarded £60,000 by the government agency INNOVATE UK. At one point, Laser Quantum’s backers agreed to merge with a rival, Spectron. They planned to float the enlarged company on the London Stock Exchange. The idea fell apart when Spectron was snapped up by a bigger group, GSI (now Novanta). As a result of the prior merger, Novanta was granted a small chunk of the business.
1. Steady growth allowed the founders to buy two German companies, Gigaoptics and Venteon Laser Technologies, for a six-figure sum. More acquisitions are on the cards.
2. Almost all Laser Quantum’s revenues are made abroad, earning it a place in The Sunday Times SME Export Track 100 this year. It sells in America, Europe, Japan, New Zealand, Australia and China, meaning it is likely to cash in from sterling’s weakness since Brexit.
3. Though Laser Quantum may benefit from the weakness of sterling since the Brexit vote, Gloster is worried about the prospect of EU research funds being withdrawn. That could hit his UK customers, many of which are universities.
“If the government does not underwrite the UK science funding that is currently driven by the EU, the nation’s very high standing in fundamental scientific research will be impacted, and our business will feel this too,” he warned.
TAILS.COM: Start-up dishes up dogs’ dinners with a difference | Joanna Bourke, Evening Standard. 1 August.
Business: Tails sets itself apart by creating bespoke meals for pooches from its huge warehouse in Heathrow, blending ingredients to order and working out the best mix for individual dogs based on their breed, age, size and medical condition. The products are then delivered direct to its 40,000 customers’ homes.
Founder: James Davidson, 39; Graham Bosher, co-founder of healthy snacks firm Graze; TV vet Joe Inglis; former Amazon web architect Steve Webster;ex-Zoopla software developer Mark Holland. Davidson studied chemical engineering at Nottingham University before becoming a graduate trainee at consumer goods giant Unilever. In 2006 became head of supply-chain operations at Innocent Drinks, spending seven years there.
Financials: Turnover £2m (2015). He aims to turbocharge revenues fivefold this year to £10 million, and double that the year after.
Investment: Family and friends are among backers of the venture, which has also obtained capital from OCTOPUS INVESTMENTS and DRAPER ESPRIT. Its second round of fundraising, late last year, raised “several million pounds”.
1. “We are trying to help people’s dogs live longer. We mix three types of kibble [dry feed] for our customers to personalise the best vitamins and nutrients for an individual pet. We have enough kibbles to make over one million different combinations,” says Davidson.The portions make sure an animal is “perfectly full”, but will also help to tackle the problem of over-indulging, he explains. “We ensure they have the right amount at a time when some dog owners indulge the pooches a little too much, causing them to be obese.”
2. Potential customers get a free two-week trial, and then prices range from £10 to £60 a month. Every breed and age is catered for — fans include Lizzie, a seven-year-old Labrador, and Tigger, a 17-year-old Jack Russell terrier.
3. International expansion is planned, with shipping to Germany and France before the end of next year.
4. The company could also look to cater for other creatures: “We are considering cat food and future product innovation, possibly as early as 2017.”
MYFLASHTRASH: Amber Atherton's online jewellery venture finds Hong Kong buyer | Russell Lynch, Evening Standard. 1 August
Business: online charm-jewellery retailer. Atherton developed the business out of a blog she began while at Benenden School in Kent, counts Cara Delevingne, Rihanna and the Duchess of Cambridge among her customers.
Founder: Amber Atherton, 25, ex-model and the former star of reality TV series Made in Chelsea
1. Has sold the business to Hong Kong-based NEFERTITI GROUP, which makes jewellery for the likes of Asos, Topshop, H&M and Zara. Founder Peggy Tang, who is understood to have paid almost £2 million for the business, said she wanted to take the company “to a new level as a global power jewellery brand”. The Evening Standard understands that Lion Capital founders Lyndon Lea and Robert Darwent have retained their stake in the business.
2. Atherton will retain a holding in MyFlashTrash but intends to focus on her new social media venture, named Brand Fan Girl.