DIGIT Deal Roundup: March 2018
Welcome to the March Digital Deal Roundup, this month we cover new acquisitions, successful fund raising and new investment.
Glasgow EdTech Entrepreneur Gets €50,000 Investment
Soundbops, an ed-tech start up has just received new funding from abroad in the form of a convertible loan. This influx of new cash comes from Belgian-based Meusinvest and its LeanSquare initiative, which specialises in supporting start-ups that are using digital technologies to disrupt existing industries such as music.
This support arrives just as Soundbops launches its Kickstarter to build a network of early adopters for the product. With first its first customers secured, the company will finalise the manufacturing and try to attract further investment to bring Soundbops to market for Christmas 2018.
José Zurstrassen, Président of LeanSquare, said: “Soundbops is an ideal investment for us – it takes an age-old problem and attempts to solve it using digital tools and innovative engineering and design. Its simplicity belies a complex design process undertaken by Michael (Tougher, CEO and Founder of Soundbops) that has seen no less than eight prototypes developed. This foundation of smart engineering is a major reason why LeanSquare are backing and believe in Soundbops as a successful product.”
“Another reason is the size of the market for such tools in the education sector; the audience for this is potentially huge thanks to the current influx of digital technologies into classrooms and so Soundbops is entering at just the right time. With a final design nearing completion and a Kickstarter campaign securing market share, Michael’s innovative engineering will no doubt take the ed-tech market by storm.”
Energy Supplier Sparks to Invest £1.5 Million in Digital Technology
This new investment is focused on improving Spark’s customer experience when they interact with the company and its telco brand Home Telecom via smartphones, tablets and desktops. Not only will they start working on a second release of their smart chatbot assistant Ami they will also be launching a digital home move assistant to help revolutionise the experience of establishing basic utilities and move essential in just ten taps. It will also update its existing platforms to allow the customers more freedom to manage their own accounts.
Spark CEO, Chris Gauld, said: “We’re constantly looking for ways to improve our customer experience and make it easy for them to engage with us at both Spark and Home Telecom. This is a bumper month for us, with loads of new digital tech going live after months of hard work by our in-house digital team. We see this as key to bringing down prices and increasing engagement amongst renters, buyers and sellers in the home move chain.”
“This stuff is right on the cutting edge of what energy suppliers should be doing for their customers. But it’s got to be supported by great people and that’s why we’ll be hiring more than 100 people into Spark over the rest of this year. It’s all about offering the best tools to deliver a great customer experience and then tailoring that to the specific needs of our home mover customers.”
Edinburgh Based LendingCrowd Secures £2m in Funding
Following a successful round of funding the LendingCrowd, the only P2P lending platform headquartered in Scotland has set itself high targets to meet. It plans to double loan deals in 2018 to around £40 million. These new proceeds are earmarked for ramping up its sales and marketing activities. The round was led by Angel Syndicate Equity Gap and included a number of prominent private investors including the Scottish Investment Bank. The company plans to scale significantly and seek Series A funding over the next 12 months.
Jock Millican from Equity Gap said: “We are extremely pleased that our syndicate members once again backed LendingCrowd, with this raise being the largest single investment by Equity Gap to date. Existing and new investors in LendingCrowd recognise the progress to date and the potential for the business to scale.”
Kerry Sharp, Director of the Scottish Investment Bank, commented: “We are delighted to provide continued support to LendingCrowd who have demonstrated real market traction with their innovative peer-to-peer lending platform in Scotland.”
Farrpoint Helps Highland Council Secure Full-Fibre Funding
Edinburgh based FarrPoint has landed a successful bid to fund full-ﬁbre connectivity in the Highland Council, which alongside a similar bid in the Greater Manchester region has reached a combined value of £28.5m. In the Highlands, this funding will increase the ﬁbre footprint and improve the economic viability of the area, allowing businesses to thrive and stimulating productivity, efﬁciency and innovation. The funding is part of the £190m Challenge Fund to promote the rollout of full-ﬁbre to local areas.
Andrew Muir, CEO and co-founder of FarrPoint, said: “This is a great result for both of the local authorities and their business communities, and we are proud to have played a part in this. The funding is designed to provide the fastest, most reliable broadband to more businesses and homes across each region.”
“Connectivity is already key to enabling public sector smart initiatives and allowing the public and businesses to take advantage of the capabilities that Gigabit connectivity brings. This demand for access will only increase and this funding will play a vital role in making sure that the deployment of gigabit-capable full ﬁbre infrastructure is commercially viable and in place.”
Dementia App MindMate Secures $2m in Funding
Founded in Glasgow the company behind MindMate has just secured venture capital from the US to develop their dementia app. LaunchCapital, Telegraph Hill Capital, Mucker Capital, PLG Ventures, Luma Launch and Potential VC all participated in the round, which will allow the business to develop its app to the point it can influence research on dementia.
The goal of the app is to use the dementia data collected to match patients with clinical researchers to help come up with better therapies. MindMate was co-founded by Susanne Mitschke, Patrick Renner and Rogelio Arellano graduates from the University of Glasgow and Strathclyde University.
MindMate Chief Executive Susanne Mitschke said: “Conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia affect so many of us, not only the sufferers but family, friends and the support systems around those living with the condition. We are on track to develop a product, build a community and bring people closer together with the research and industry players that can make a lasting difference to how we manage these conditions in the years ahead.”
FreeAgent Acquired by RBS for £53 Million
The Royal Bank of Scotland’s BidCo subsidiary will acquire the entire issues and to be issue ordinary share capital of FreeAgent. RBS plans to keep FreeAgent as an operationally independent brand within the RBS Group. The company’s existing management team and Edinburgh HQ will also reportedly remain in place.
Andy Roberts, chairman of FreeAgent, said: “The combination of FreeAgent and RBS makes sense for our talented people, for our company’s growth prospects, and for the shareholders who have backed our journey so far. For those shareholders, today’s offer represents a 5x multiple on our current revenues as well as a very substantial premium to our IPO price. For the FreeAgent team, it opens up a huge opportunity for them: a chance to target the entire RBS SME client base with a product designed with their needs in mind.”
Ross McEwan, chief executive officer of RBS, said: “Since the beginning of our partnership, we have been impressed by FreeAgent and its technology, and are excited by the enhanced offering we will be able to provide to our customers. We believe that a technology-enabled solution for our business banking customers will make it easier for our customers to build their businesses safely and securely.”
Pinsent Masons Sells Cerico Tech Subsidiary
Law firm Pinsent Masons has sold its Scottish technology subsidiary to Dow Jones, the business and finance information group owned by News Corp. Cerico’s product will become part of Dow Jones’s workflow application, which is designed to provide a complete solution to assess, investigate and monitor third party risk for customers.
Pinsent Masons will continue to provide the legal content for the compliance software and offer consultancy support following the acquisition. Richard Foley, a senior partner at Pinsent Masons, said: “As the business has moved toward its next phase of growth, it has been clear that it will need to integrate with a wider range of business and financial data to support the full range of client need. In that respect Dow Jones is the perfect partner.”
Chris Lloyd, head of professional information business at Dow Jones, said: “Cerico is a best-in-class, end-to-end compliance and regulatory solution that is an excellent fit for Dow Jones as we move further into offering fully integrated solutions for our clients.”