COMPANIES: FinnCap to Florence

Published by Directorzone Markets Ltd on January 7, 2019, 9:00 am in News, Other


Thursday February 14th 2019


Thursday February 14th 2019


IMAGE: courtesy of from Pexels 



News about 13 UK growth companies and/or accelerators + turnover in the GRID marketplace 9th December 2018 - 5th January 2019:


carer staff app - nursing staff app - healthcare innovation - learning platform -

low-alcohol craft beer - medical simulators - flat-sharing - data privacy -

potatoes - chain maker - stockbroker - job search


London x 8 ::  Ipswich :: Bristol :: Glasgow :: Manchester x 2


Hometouch | Florence  | NHS Innovation Accelerator | Up Learn | Big Drop Brewing £650k | Limbs & Things £18.8m | Spareroom £8.5m | Egress Software | Albert Bartlett £154.5m | Renold £191.6m | Cenkos £59.5m | Finncap | Adzuna £15m



How tech shows its caring side | Peter Evans, The Sunday Times. December 9 2018


HOMETOUCH: carer staff app - London

DZ profile: Hometouch Care Limited

Business: online platform that connects professional carers with families looking to hire them - arranges more than 40,000 hours of care a month.

Launched: 2015

Location: London

Founder: former NHS specialist Jamie Wilson, 40

Investment: has raised £5m of funding, including an investment from PASSION CAPITAL, the venture capital fund co-founded by Eileen Burbidge.


1. HomeTouch is one of several tech start-ups acting as marketplaces for carers and other low-paid health workers to get a better deal for their services. Care professionals can earn up to 50% more than with traditional agencies and have more control over their hours.

2. Following the failure of a number of high-profile drug trials, experts are increasingly looking to lifestyle factors such as diet, sleep and social interaction to control dementia. That is where the new wave of tech start-ups can help, according to their founders.


FLORENCE: nursing staff app - London

DZ profile: Digital Staff Solutions Ltd (Florence)

Business: an app that connects nurses with available shifts in nursing homes. Has 1,000 nurses working regularly via the platform. “Florence cuts out the middleman. We put the control into the hands of Care homes and Nurses.”

Launched: 2016

Location: London

Founder: NHS doctor Charles Armitage

Investment: raised £1.2m in seed funding in August 2018 led by New York-based venture investor WAVERLY CAPITAL and an existing backer. Further funding was provided by RIANTA CAPITAL, the private family office of Tom Singh, founder of NEW LOOK.



NHS INNOVATION ACCELERATOR: healthcare innovation - London

Pitching to the NHS can damage your health | Peter Evans and Liam Kelly, The Sunday Times. December 16 2018

DZ profile: NHS Innovation Accelerator

Business: set up in to support the “uptake and spread of proven, impactful innovations” across England. There is intense scepticism because attempts to work with start-ups have struggled to make an impact. The NHS Innovation Accelerator saved the health service only £12m in its first year. The total NHS England budget is more than £120bn.

Launched: 2015

Location: London

Founder: NHS

Staff: Tony Young, national clinical director for innovation at NHS England


1. … the NHS treats more than 1m people every 36 hours and has spending power to rival most multinational businesses. Yet approaching the service is often daunting. There are more than 190 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in England, all with individual finance teams and often with different approaches to procurement.

2. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, recently pledged more than £200m towards creating “internationally recognised centres for technological and digital innovation” in a select group of NHS trusts. While some of the best ideas are adopted by individual NHS trusts, other promising companies fall through the net — meaning bosses are often forced to look abroad to countries with health systems that are easier to navigate. Patients in Israel, Germany, America and the Nordic states have benefited from British healthcare start-ups.

3. A common complaint from companies is the time it takes for commissioning decisions to be made. Arjun Panesar of DIABETES DIGITAL MEDIA (DDM) says the NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH AND CARE EXCELLENCE (Nice) “don’t know how to evaluate digital apps.” Last week, Nice set out guidelines for companies wanting to develop digital healthcare products for the NHS. DDM will be among the first to be evaluated and will help Nice with audits of other products.

4. Even those running start-ups that have had success selling to the NHS remain baffled. Dr. Mark Jenkins, OVIVA co-founder says: “I see a lot of start-ups that patients need and the NHS needs, but the idea’s not a priority, so it doesn’t go anywhere”.



UP LEARN: learning platform - London

Guy Riese’s learning platform makes the grade with £2.5m backing | Liam Kelly, The Sunday Times. December 23 2018

DZ profile: Up Learn Limited

Business: platform that uses artificial intelligence to help students learn more effectively. It hosts interactive video lessons and quizzes, and its algorithm identifies students’ weaknesses. Up Learn also offers on-demand tutors 24/7. Up Learn charges schools £200 to £350 a year, but it guarantees to help students get A* and A grades, offering refunds if the targets are missed. Riese said 97% of Up Learn’s students had so far achieved the grades. It currently offers courses in maths, physics and economics.

Launched: 2016

Location: London

Founder: Guy Riese, 24. A self-confessed “average student”, Riese started trying to find different ways to study after suffering from glandular fever in his first year of A-levels. Wanting to catch up with classmates, he studied at home using cognitive science techniques — then went back to school and came top of the class in chemistry.

Investment: has won a £2.5m investment from venture capital firm FORWARD PARTNERS.



BIG DROP BREWING: low-alcohol craft beer - Ipswich

Lawyer Rob Fink on the wagon nets cash for 0.5% beer | Liam Kelly, The Sunday Times. December 16 2018

DZ profile: Big Drop Brewing Company Limited

Business: low-alcohol craft beer brand. Claims to be the first brewer dedicated to making beer with less than 0.5% alcohol. They hope to ride increasing demand for craft beer and lower alcohol consumption, especially by millennials. Big Drop’s products, which include a lager, a pale ale and an award-winning stout, is sold in TESCO, online grocer Ocado and at stores and bars in Holland, Sweden and Finland.

Launched: 2016

Location: Ipswich

Founders: City lawyer Rob Fink, 40, who co-founded the specialist insurer Fenchurch Law, launched Big Drop Brewing two years ago as he tried to cut his alcohol intake at parties after the birth of his first son. He started brewing two years ago in Ipswich with a friend, James Kindred

Financials: About half of Fink’s £650,000 sales last year came from Europe

Investment: has attracted £500,000 from cash from Nick Heath, an angel investor, as well as from friends and family. He will use it to start hiring staff and expanding in North America.




LIMBS & THINGS: medical simulators - Bristol

Margot Cooper of Limbs & Things: Have I got body parts for you | Liam Kelly, The Sunday Times. December 9 2018

DZ profile: Limbs & Things Limited

Business: maker of highly realistic medical models and simulators on which surgical students can train. Cooper’s models, made mostly of silicone and polypropylene, can be used by trainee doctors to practise everything from breast examinations and delivering a baby to laparoscopic surgery and appendectomies. Customers include the NHS and medical schools worldwide

Launched: 1990

Location: Bristol

Founder: Margot Cooper, 75. Much of the £2m needed to start up came from the Coopers remortgaging their home, and from a windfall for husband Nic, a lawyer, from his involvement in an Imperial College London spinout.

Staff: 155 worldwide, 132 of whom are in Bristol.

Financials: Last year it made pre-tax profits of £4.8m on sales of £18.8m.

Investment: Cooper owns 85% of the business and set up a trust for her staff to hold the rest



SPAREROOM: flat-sharing - Manchester

'I was divorced and missed having company' | Sarah Finley, BBC. 10 December 2018

DZ profile: Flatshare Limited (SpareRoom) 

Business: flat-sharing website in both the UK and the US. Claims that 11.5m people view its website every month. "The biggest growth area for co-living space is people in their 40s," says Rupert Hunt "They are maybe coming out of relationships or marriages, and financially can't afford a place on their own. Or like me, they're bored of living on their own and want some company."

Launched: 2002

Location: Manchester

Founder: Rupert Hunt, 43, chief executive

Staff: 80

Financials: annual turnover of more than £8.5m

Investment: has never needed any external investment



EGRESS SOFTWARE: data privacy - London

Egress Software promises more London jobs with $40m series C fundraise | Emily Nicolle, City A.M

DZ profile: Egress Software Technologies Limited

Business: provider of data privacy and compliance software designed to secure unstructured data

Launched: 2007

Location: London

Founder: Tony Pepper, Chief executive and Neil Larkins + John Goodyear, who he met while working at REFLEX MAGNETICS.

Staff: its headquarters in Old Street will add another 30 or 40 staff over the next two years, in addition to the 90 or so already based there.

Investment: $40m (£31.7m) series C fundraising round led by US investor FTV CAPITAL today. Existing backer ALBION CAPITAL also participated in the round. First took on venture funding in 2014 taking £3m from Albion to build a framework of its US office.



ALBERT BARTLETT: potatoes - Glasgow

Potato king Ronnie Bartlett’s wedge shrinks | Liam Kelly, The Sunday Times. December 23 2018

DZ profile: Albert Bartlett & Sons (airdrie) Limited

Business: family potato business which provides about 20% of the fresh potatoes eaten in Britain.

Launched: 1948

Location: Airdrie, east of Glasgow

Staff: Ronnie Bartlett, MD.

Financials: Sales fell 10% to £154.5m in the year to the end of May, while pre-tax profits dipped £900,000 to £6.1m. Despite the decline, Albert Bartlett said its profit margin remained resilient, while sales were buoyed by growth in its frozen range.

News:  has seen his dividend slashed by two-thirds - from £1.5m to £500,000 - amid as sales of fresh produce declined. He was also paid £1m in his position as the sole director.



RENOLD: chain maker - Manchester

Renold wants to loosen its chains with switch to Aim | Andy Bounds, FT. December 24, 2018

DZ profile: Renold Public Limited Company

Business: maker of industrial chain, gears and couplings. Negatively affected by the manufacturing slowdown after the financial crisis. Renold is the world’s second-biggest chain maker by sales but has less than 10 per cent of the market. Its chains are used in warehouses operated by AMAZON and other fast-growing ecommerce retailers, food manufacturing, the drilling industry and even in London’s Big Ben.

Launched: 1864

Location: Wythenshawe, Manchester

Founder: James Slater and Hans Renold

Staff: 2,200 people, just 250 of them now in the UK. Chief executive Robert Purcell arrived in 2013 from plastics maker FILTRONA, now known as ESSENTRA.

Financials: Key Fundamentals to 31-Mar-18 - Revenue £191.6m; Pre-Tax £1.4m. Results for the six months to September 30. Pre-tax profit rose 71 per cent from £2.4m to £4.1m. Revenue increased 4.5 per cent to £99.7m. It posted revenue growth of 19 per cent in China, 18 per cent in India and more than 10 per cent in the US.

Investment: Liseted on the LSE Main Market since 10 Dec 2009


1.  considering a transfer to Aim within weeks in order to buy smaller, private competitors to increase its market share. Stock exchange rules dictate that main market companies must consult shareholders and publicly announce if a target’s market capitalisation, net assets or pre-tax profit is equivalent to more than 25 per cent of their own. On Aim, the limit is 100 per cent.

2. Mr Purcell’s first step was to cuts costs. That included the painful decision to shut a factory in Stockport, its back yard, with the loss of 200 jobs. Renold is moving more and more manufacturing to cheaper countries and is building a new factory in the Jiangsu province of China. The second step was to sell its products better, boosting revenue. Sales rose in 2017 for the first time in many years, from £184.6m to £191.6m. Now the third phase of Step 2020 calls for acquisitions. With net debt at £31m and plenty of cash coming in there is scope to do deals.



London’s small stockbrokers face tough decisions on future | Hannah Murphy, FT. December 28, 2018


CENKOS: stockbroker - London

DZ profile: Cenkos Securities Plc

Business: securities firm focused on growth companies - nominated advisor, sponsor, broker and financial adviser

Launched: 2004

Location: London

Financials: posted a 90 per cent drop in pre-tax profits in its latest half-year results — from £4.6m to £500,000. to 31-Dec-17:  Revenue £59.5m; Pre-Tax £10m

Investment: Listed on LSE Aim since 31 Oct 2006.

News: is bulking up through acquisitions. This month, it bought the six-person broking business of Smith & Williamson, adding 12 new clients in the process.



FINNCAP: stockbroker - London

DZ profile: Finncap Group Plc

Business: investment bank and a corporate and institutional stockbroker. Four areas of business: investment banking, equities research, institutional sales and trading, and market making. Describes itself as “the largest adviser on the LSE and No. 1 broker on AIM”. Is focused on companies of an enterprise value of up to £500m and is the newest broker to join London’s junior stock market.

Launched: 2007

Location: London

Investment: in 2010 was bought out by staff, together with chairman and private equity veteran Jon Moulton. Listed on Aim December 2018. Investors include: Jon Moulton, 11.9%; Vin Murria, 11.1%; Sam Smith, CEO, 9.5%.

News: In late 2018 announced intention to acquire CAVENDISH CORPORATE FINANCE, a merger and acquisitions advisory boutique co-founded by Conservative party treasurer Howard Leigh.



ADZUNA: job search app - London

Football fans turned beermat dream into a jobs giant | Peter Evans, The Sunday Times. December 30 2018

DZ profile: Adhunter Limited (Adzuna)

Business: job search venture with 7m registered users across 16 countries. Their idea was to use social networks and big data to create advanced job searches. They called the start-up ADZUNA (zuna means “abundance” in several African languages) because they wanted to become “the most abundant classified ads site on the web”. While the search engine is free, Adzuna makes its money from sites such as Monster and Total Jobs that are willing to pay for their listings to appear high up in search results.

Launched: 2010

Location: London

Founders: co-chief executives Andrew Hunter, 37, focuses on marketing and Doug Monro, 43 on product development. Each put in £10,000 of savings. Hunter had worked at review site Qype and at Gumtree. Monro had done senior jobs at eBay and the property site Zoopla. Monro briefly became Hunter’s boss at Gumtree when eBay bought the listings website.

Staff: 50

Financials: made a profit of £1m this year on revenue of £15m

Investment: have raised about £12m from venture capital firms and via crowdfunding website CROWDCUBE. Owned by venture capital firms including SMEDVIG CAPITAL, PASSION CAPITAL and INDEX VENTURES, as well as many crowdfunding investors. Hunter and Monro still own the largest individual stakes


1. It took nearly three years for the business to get going. In late 2012, they signed up their first customer and then, weeks later, received a surprise call from 10 Downing Street. Adzuna was asked to provide the data for an iPad app that fed David Cameron, the then-prime minister, up-to-date information on the jobs market.

2. The company has more sales abroad than in Britain.