Focal Point Positioning | Caffè Nero £257.6m | DevicePilot | Sunuva £2.5m | Vertical Future | Tandem Bank | Frontier Developments £18.1m (½ year) | Opto | Framestore
News about 9 UK growth companies and/or accelerators + turnover in the GRID marketplace 26th February – 4th March 2017:
FOCAL POINT POSITIONING: Tech start-up on track for £4m expansion | Kiki Loizou The Sunday Times. February 26
DZ profile: Focal Point Positioning Ltd.
Business: start-up that develops tracking systems for smartphones and wearable devices. Has built technology that it claims is more precise than most GPS fitness and health trackers, which Faragher suggests over-estimate distances travelled by as much as 15%.
Founder: Ramsey Faragher, 34, who studied for a PhD in opportunistic radio positioning at Cambridge University and worked as a scientist for the defence giant BAE Systems before starting work on his venture.
Investment: has raised £4m from investors including the venture capital firm PASSION CAPITAL. Backing has also come from CAMBRIDGE ANGELS and CAMBRIDGE ENTERPRISE.
CAFFÈ NERO: paid no tax (again) | Peter Evans, The Sunday Times
DZ profile: Caffe Nero Group Limited
Business: One of Britain and Ireland’s biggest coffee shop chains which operates more than 600 coffee shops
Location: London WC2
Founder: Gerry Ford, an American businessman.
Financials: reported revenue of £257.6m in the year to the end of May, an increase of 6.7% on the previous 12 months. Profits rose 8.5% to £25.5m.
Investment: The company was publicly listed for six years in the early 2000s, but Ford took it private again in 2007.
News: Caffè Nero’s directors said they did not pay any corporation tax because Caffè Nero is part of a wider group called Rome Pikco, which recorded an annual loss. Rome Pikco’s ultimate parent company is Saratoga, which is incorporated in the Isle of Man.
DEVICEPILOT: Tech founders need to plough back in their money | Laura Onita, The Sunday Times
DZ profile: Devicepilot Limited
Business: an internet of things (IoT) platform that analyses how well “connected” devices work.
Founder: Pilgrim Beart, 51, decided to strike out on his own after his divorce in 1998, he set up ActiveRF, which applied Bluetooth technology to new products, but it was killed off by the dotcom bust — and by his lack of business nous. In 2002, he co-founded Splashpower to create a wireless charging pad for mobile phones. It went bust six years later when it failed to secure more funds to develop the prototype. Then he and co-founder Adrian Critchlow came up with the idea for AlertMe when they realised the IoT’s potential. BRITISH GAS, also a client, invested £5.7m in return for a 16% stake in 2010. Beart sold the business, now called HIVE, to the Centrica-owned energy giant for £44m in 2015.
Investment: backed by angel investors including Skyscanner founders Gareth Williams and Bonamy Grimes.
SUNUVA: Outlook sunny for kids’ swimwear label after a little help from Prince George | Lucy Tobin, The Evening Standard. February 27
DZ profile: Sunuva Ltd
Business: kids’ swimwear business. Harrods remains the biggest account in the UK — last summer, Sunuva was its top-selling kids’ brand. The range is now also stocked in Selfridges, Fenwick and Harvey Nichols, as well as independent shops — but online sales are set to make up half of revenues this year.
Location: Maida Vale
Founders: Emily Cohen, 46 and Sabrina Naggar, 45.
Financials: brings in annual revenues £2.5-3m this year
Investment: raised £1 million from seven private angel investors, including ex-POUT shareholders.
1. Both the women already had start-up experience: after beginning her career working for PR guru Lynne Franks, Cohen was one of a trio of entrepreneurs behind British cosmetics brand POUT, which grew to a staff of 80 with a £7 million turnover in five years. Pout was eventually sold to the owner of the Victoria’s Secret lingerie chain for $24 million (£19 million) just before the global financial crisis. Cohen then spent a year as a consultant for Sir Philip Green on a new make-up line for Topshop, before starting Sunuva.Naggar, meanwhile, had trained as an accountant with PwC before designing jewellery that was sold in Whistles, Fenwick and Selfridges. She put the business on ice to have four children in four years.
2. The hardest bit was finding a factory that was prepared to work with us, a nobody.” Their first ones — in Tunisia, and Delhi — still make Sunuva’s products today.
3. More foreign expansion plans are on the horizon: last year Sunuva launched in upmarket European department stores including GRUPPO COIN in Italy and EL CORTE INGLÉS in Spain.
4. Their international cache was given a big boost when Prince George was pictured wearing a £28 Sunuva T-shirt and shorts in his third birthday photos.
VERTICAL FUTURE: Couple launch HSBC-backed venture to battle air pollution | Jamie Nimmo, The Evening Standard. February 27
DZ profile: Vertical Future Limited
Business: It will target a number of urban issues such as air pollution, concerns about which have grown in recent weeks. Vertical Future will start by launching a network of so-called vertical farms in disused buildings and shipping containers, producing food for schools and local communities. The first, in Deptford, will be operational in April and plans are already being drawn up for a second site in north London.
The business will also have a digital health division, using technology to alleviate pressure on the NHS.
Burrows said they are developing a “top secret” smart device to curb air pollution. A prototype is expected by August.
Location: London SE22
Founders: Jamie and Marie-Alexandrine Burrows. JB is a former health economist and his wife worked for the NHS in research.
Investment: backed by HSBC
TANDEM BANK: chief executive Ricky Knox talks sarongs, dumb pipes, ornithology and why Facebook is scared of banking | Harriet Green, City A.M. February 27, 2017
DZ profile: Tandem Bank Limited
Business: app-only challenger bank which received its banking licence in 2015, and is currently piloting products with a 10,000 strong community of investors and other supporters ahead of the full launch later in 2017. For the past year, it has been collecting up co-founders – over 10,000 people who have joined on an invite-only basis, receiving one share in the business in return for coming up with ideas and testing features. At the moment, Tandem co-founders are getting access to the app, a savings account and a credit card is coming shortly.
Like the majority of its competitors, Tandem can offer 0 per cent FX and no fees for withdrawals abroad. It doesn’t have overdraft fees – just a penalty if you don’t pay the balance, but you’ll get several reminders before that.
Location: London N1
Founder: Matt Cooper, chairman and Ricky Knox, new chief executive. Also co-founded transfer startups AZIMO and SMALL WORLD FINANCIAL SERVICES, investment firm HEXAGON PARTNERS plus a host of other companies. Cooper, who is also chairman of OCTOPUS INVESTMENTS, founded CAPITAL ONE – one of the 10 largest banks in the US.
Investment: At the end of 2016, HOUSE OF FRASER invested £35m in Tandem, taking its total investment over £50m
1. After only 15 months, Peter Herbert is to step down as chief executive in the next few weeks, with deputy chief executive and co-founder Ricky Knox stepping up to replace him.
2. .... going beyond mortgages and fixed-term savings accounts. … helping yclients to book a holiday, tindicating what insurance youthey to reach it – i.e. by switching energy provider
3. HOUSE OF FRASER is a first partner for Tandem – Knox is looking at more now. With a credit card and loyalty scheme in place, and over 10m walking through its stores every year, Tandem will scale as quickly as possible.
Digital Bank Tandem starts fundraising talks | Nicholas Megaw, FT. April 5, 2019
4. …. has started discussions with investors to support a planned overseas expansion. People close to the bank, which has around 600,000 customers …..hoping to secure an investment in the next three months ….likely to be larger than the £80m raised when it took over HARRODS BANK last year.
5. focus on savings and lending through credit cards, rather than the current accounts offered by peers like MONZO, has led to slower growth in user numbers, but faster revenue growth. It reported total revenues of £5.1m in 2017, compared to £1.8m at Monzo, which was valued at £1bn in its most recent fundraising.
6. Last September Tandem struck a deal with Hong Kong-based CONVOY to use its technology to work on a new digital lender in the city, but Tandem is now looking to directly expand into several countries, starting with trials in continental Europe by the end of this year. ...follows similar moves by several of its digital rivals. … the UK’s impending departure from the EU makes it less appealing to be a UK-only business in the longer-term.
FRONTIER DEVELOPMENTS: Video game designer turned chief executive aims to propel his company into the elite | William Turvill, City A.M. February 27
DZ profile: Frontier Developments Plc
Business: Video game designer. Frontier’s games include Elite: Dangerous, Zoo Tycoon, Lost Winds, Kinectimals, Rollercoaster Tycoon, Planet Coaster II and Thrillville.
Founder: David Braben, founded Frontier from a farmhouse near Cambridge
Financials: last week reported revenues of £18.1m for the six months to 30 November, up from £10.9m, and profits after tax of £3.6m, up from £0.4m.
Investment: Since floating on AIm in 2013, the company’s share price has risen 72 per cent to 288p.
1. Braben believes his company has a big potential because of the increasing mainstream popularity of gaming. “The goal here is to be one of the best entertainment companies in the world. I think in 10 years’ time there is scope for maybe a dozen big entertainment companies. And I want us in some way, and it will probably look completely different to where things are now, to be one of those.”
UK video game groups grapple with shift online | Aliya Ram,FT. February 10, 2018
2. In the year to May 31, the group reported a 75 per cent rise in revenues to £37m and pre-tax profits that increased by more than six times to £7.8m.
3. China’s TENCENT , the world’s largest gaming company, bought a 9 per cent stake in Frontier last July as part of its attempt to expand in Europe and the US, sending the shares to more than double their level before the announcement. They now trade at around £11.85. Frontier expects Tencent willl help it reach more customers in China, the world’s largest gaming market, and the company will expand into Chinese-language games.
China crackdown clouds future for UK gaming groups | Hannah Murphy, FT. September 15, 2018
4. Shares rose rapidly in June when a new franchise, Jurassic World Evolution, was launched in tandem with the blockbuster film. But this month, it posted a 8.6 per cent fall in revenues to £34.2m for the 12 months to the end of May, which it put down to the fact it launched no new franchises in that period. Full-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation dropped more than 25 per cent from £12.7m to £9.4m, which it blamed on increased investment in marketing and also in research and development for its latest dinosaur release. The group said the Jurassic Park hype has already boosted revenues for the current financial year.
Big tech presents next chapter for UK gaming companies | Aliya Ram, FT April 27, 2019
5. ... a government review into online gaming has delayed its plans to push into China.
6. ...revenues more than tripled to £64.7m in the six months to November 30 2018, while pre-tax profits soared to £17.3m.
7. This month launched its latest game franchise, Planet Zoo, in which gamers manage a zoo with animals that the company claims are the “most authentic in video game history”.
OPTO: London start-up launches VR headset to challenge tech giants | Jamie Nimmo, The Evening Standard February 28
DZ profile: Opto Industries Ltd
Business: Opto’s first product – the Air VR headset headset, has built-in speakers and made of lightweight foam, retails for £98 and its magnetic covers come in a range of bright colours including yellow and light blue. Any smartphone can slot in the Opto Air.
Staff: Mahdi Yahya, Opto’s Lebanese-born chief executive and a serial entrepreneur, says he noticed issues using other VR headsets at his tech incubator Room One, which creates VR content. Those issues included having to use headphones as well as the headset and hygiene, which he thinks the foam has solved.
News: Opto has launched its Air VR headset at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, where the world’s biggest mobile companies have assembled this week. The VR space is dominated by the large tech giants such as Samsung, which produces the Gear VR headset, and Facebook-owned Oculus.
FRAMESTORE: nears deal to expand London headquarters | Joanna Bourke, The Evening Standard. March 1
DZ profile: Framestore Limited (The)
Business: Oscar winning British special effects firm which has produced visual effects for movies such as Gravity and Paddington
Location: Soho, London
Investment: the majority of the business was sold to a Chinese investor last year, allowing the firm to tap into the fast-growing Asian film market.
News: London expansion - is on the cusp of agreeing a deal to nearly double the size of its UK headquarters. The company is understood to be in advanced negotiations to take around 95,000 square feet at 28 Chancery Lane. It is expected to relocate from smaller London offices where it occupies some 50,000 square feet, according to real estate sources.