COMPANIES: Birdie to Isotropic Systems

Published by Directorzone Markets Ltd on January 21, 2019, 9:00 am in News, Other


Thursday February 14th 2019


Thursday February 14th 2019

IMAGE: courtesy of from Pexels



pet food - beauty salons – bar chain - carer app - corporate payments

– mobile credit card - satellite comms –

leisure footwear


London x 4 :: Edinburgh ::  Leeds :: Manchester


Lily’s Kitchen £26.2m | Pure Spa & Beauty £3.4m | Arc Inspirations £24.2m | Birdie | Accesspay | Jaja Finance | Isotropic Systems | Mahabis £25m


News about 8 UK growth companies and/or accelerators + turnover in the GRID marketplace 13th – 19th January 2019:



LILY’S KITCHEN: pet food - London

Lily’s Kitchen, founded by Henrietta Morrison, is hot for sales | Liam Kelly, The Sunday Times. January 13 2019

DZ profile: Lily's Kitchen Limited

Business: makes meals such as cottage pie with potato and carrots for dogs, and hunter’s hotpot for cats. The pet food range is now sold in Italy, Holland and Dubai, and the company recently launched a dental care range for dogs.

Launched: 2008

Location: London

Founder: Henrietta Morrison, after her pet border terrier, Lily, became ill and refused to eat, but recovered after meals using fresh ingredients. Morrison started the company with £150,000 raised from savings and remortgaging her home.

Staff: David Milner, former boss of crisp maker TYRRELLS, became chief executive in October

Financials: Investment in overseas expansion and product launches caused pre-tax losses to double to £5.3m despite sales increasing 32% to £26.2m in the year to the end of March.

Investment: from the private equity house CATTERTON in 2015



PURE SPA & BEAUTY: beauty salons - Edinburgh

It’s hard to relax when the tax breaks favour start-ups | Peter Evans, The Sunday Times. January 13 2019

DZ profile: The Nail And Beauty Zone Limited (PURE Spa & Beauty)

Business: 8 beauty salons which offer treatments to time-pressed urban workers

Launched: 2002

Location: Edinburgh

Founder: Becky Woodhouse, 44

Staff: 150. Executive director, Michael Lumsden, 58, who joined the business last year

Financials: profitable and turned over £3.4m in 2017

Investment: launched a £150k crowdfunding campaign on CROWDCUBE in November to cash for expansion in Manchester, Bristol and Leeds, but as a 17-year old company is not eligible for investment via EIS tax breaks* and had limited interest.

News: * only accessible to companies for seven years after they make their first sale. Companies can still accept EIS and similar funding if they raise more than 50% of their average five-year turnover and use the cash for a new product or to enter a new market.



ARC INSPIRATIONS: bar chain - Leeds

I knew that I wanted to spend all my time in pubs | Liam Kelly, The Sunday Times. January 13 2019

DZ profile: Arc Inspirations Limited

Business: 19 bar sites across the north of England, from Manchester to Newcastle

Launched: 2000

Location: Leeds

Founder: Martin Wolstencroft, 48 and Chris Ure

Financials: sales of £24.2m and pre-tax profits of £146,000 last year.

Investment: Wolstencroft raised £200,000 for the venture – and now owns 20% of the business - while Ure put in £400,000 and owns the majority; some shares are owned by senior staff. Other than debt financing to pay the £1.5m cost of opening each new bar, they have not taken external funding.



BIRDIE: carer app - London

Tech whizz Birdie aiming to revolutionise care for the elderly | The Evening Standard. 14 January 2019

DZ profile: Birdie Care Services Limited (Birdie)

Business: “agetech” business - its apps help carers by digitising time-consuming admin and reporting, which can be shared via a private social network with approved medics and family members. Wants to digitise care and keep down hospital admissions. Kids can then track their elderly parents’ health, and care provision, 24/7. Plus there are internet-connected gadgets like door sensors, panic buttons and fall-detection wristbands in users’ homes, to spot any issues and automatically call for help. Today Birdie has signed up 30 care agencies with 5000 carers on their books; each pays the start-up between £1 and £5 per carer per month to use its technology. Those clients’ families can access a free app to view carers’ information, or pay £30 to £50 a month to upgrade to an app with a GP on call, access to in-home sensor information, and meals-on-wheels services.

Launched: 2017

Location: Angel, London

Founder: Belgium-born social entrepreneur, Max Parmentier, 36. Previously based in Geneva, raised $15m (£12m) from investors including Bill Gates to work on start-up WAMBO, an Amazon-esque marketplace that pools medicine procurement so developing countries can get cheaper drugs.

Financials: First revenues last year, which mainly involved the testing phase, are storming ahead this year.

Investment: in 2017, raised €2.5m (£2.3m) from KAMET VENTURES, backed by insurance giant Axa, followed by a second round of fundraising late last year, where the same backers put in another €7m.

News: For market research, Parmentier interviewed 100 elderly people and their families, as well as carers, geriatricians and GPs.



ACCESSPAY: corporate payments - Manchester

London venture capital firm Beringea heads up north with £9m fintech injection | Emily Nicolle, City A.M. 14 January 2019

DZ profile: Access Systems (UK) Limited (AccessPay)

Business: fintech firm, whose platform provides security and cost-efficiency to corporate finance systems. It has more than 500 clients, including BARCLAYS Bank, the AA and ITV.

Launched: 2012

Location: Manchester

Investment: venture capital firm BERINGEA has also led a £9m fundraising round, which it said was one of the region’s largest fintech rounds to date.



JAJA FINANCE: mobile credit card - London

London fintech startup Jaja Finance picks up £5m with a boost from Celeres | Emily Nicolle, City A.M. 16 January 2019

DZ profile: Jaja Finance Ltd (Jaja)

Business: Credit card fintech startup. The platform started onboarding users from its waiting list this month to trial its mobile-only credit card product, disrupting a market in fintech that has previously been dominated by rival bank TANDEM.

Launched: 2015

Location: London

Founders: Per Elvebakk, Jostein Svendsen and Kyrre Riksen

Investment: today confirmed the final close of its £3.5m crowdfunding round, boosted by an additional £1.5m from CELERES INVESTMENTS. The £5m intake adds to an earlier £4.4m raised in seed funding last year, backed by BLYSTAD GROUP and POLLEN STREET CAPITAL among others. More than 1,000 private investors took part in the crowdfunding raise on SEEDRS.


1. plans to use the funding to launch its credit card product and increase hiring at its London office, with a target of 45 in-house staff by the end of 2019.

2. Riksen said the startup will pursue a full banking licence in the future, but for now it is focused on the credit sector.

3. Jaja has also been pursuing partnership deals and intends to white label its technology platform as another source of revenue.



ISOTROPIC SYSTEMS: satellite comms - London

Boeing backs UK start-up seeking to transform satellite antenna | Sylvia Pfeifer, FT.  January 17, 2019

DZ profile: Isotropic Systems Ltd

Business: UK start-up that has developed technology that can control the direction of radio waves and which promises to revolutionise the manufacture of satellite antennas. Isotropic has used technology from the field of “transformation optics”, more commonly used to bend light, and applied it to radio waves. By bending radio waves through optical devices the company will be able to develop satellite antennas with no moving parts and which use less power but are cheaper to manufacture than existing ones. The company is tapping into the rapid changes sweeping the industry with the launch of high-throughput and non-geostationary satellite systems, which will demand better ground infrastructure. Satellite antennas of the future will need to be able to handle much greater capacity. Isotropic, said the technology would enable a greater adoption of satellite communication. In the maritime industry, for example, the deployment of the technology could enable not just superyachts but small fishing vessels to access low-cost broadband.

Launched: 2013

Location: London

Founder: John Finney, chief executive

Investment: BOEING HORIZONX VENTURES, the investment arm of the US aerospace group, has led a $14m fundraising round with two venture funds, SPACE CAPITAL and SPACE ANGEL, and a private individual. WATERLOW MANAGEMENT.


1. Boeing HorizonX Ventures last April invested in Oxfordshire-based REACTION ENGINES.

2. Mr Finney said Isotropic, which was formed in, had previously secured grant funding from the UK SPACE AGENCY and INNOVATE UK, the country’s innovation agency, which had been invaluable in securing the backing of Boeing.



MAHABIS: leisure footwear - London

Slippers and sleep: Mattress founder saves Mahabis from administration | Joe Curtis, City A.M. 18 January 2019

DZ profile: 21k Footwear Limited (Mahabis)

Business: upmarket leisure footwear business, the self-styled “Nike of downtime”. Mahabis sold almost 1m pairs of slippers in more than 100 countries over four years of trading but went into administration over Christmas.

Launched: 2014

Location: London

Founder: criminal barrister Ankur Shah

Financials: collapsed in late 2018 after owing creditors £2.6m in the 12 months to June 2017

Investment: SIMBA SLEEP founder James Cox’s investment boutique YYX CAPITAL has bought Mahabis’ assets

News: The purchase agreed with administrators KRE means Mahabis staff will be retained and supplier relationships will continue to exist, with the business set for growth, according to Cox, who will become interim chief executive. Cox wants to take Mahabis above the £25m sales it booked in 2016/17, aiming to build a £100m business within five years.