Start-Up Series Contest – over £ 1 million invested in the latest winners
In September 2020, Small Business and Worth Capital teamed up to restart the Start-Up Series – the UK’s largest seed capital funding competition.
Since then, five new winners have received a combined investment of over £ 800,000 from The Start-Up Series Fund and private investors. Three past winners received over £ 300,000 in follow-up funding from the same source after achieving their impressive growth targets. All investments underwent further due diligence carried out by the fund manager Amersham Investment Management.
Following the last round of investments, which closed in early April, Hayley Etherington, Worth Capital’s Business Operations Director, said, “As the start-up series is celebrating its 5th anniversary later this year, we are very proud to have 25 competition winners have been carefully selected and crowned from thousands of uses across the UK. You’ve received over £ 5.3M in SEIS & EIS stock investments – that’s real money creating real innovation, jobs and popular brands.
“We welcome these last five ambitious startups to the Worth Capital family with great optimism. As always, we will work hard with the talented founding teams over the coming months and years to avoid risk and accelerate their growth. “
Read on to find out about the latest winners, how your business might be considered for equity funding up to £ 250,000, and for hands-on help from Worth Capital.
LAST WINNER: UNIZEST, Fintech – SEIS investment
Founders: Matt Oldham, Anthony Shawcross and Chris Donnachie
UNIZEST (developed by Neofin Ventures) offers e-accounts for employees and students coming to the UK. Your solution is effortless to request and the account can be activated and used prior to arrival. It solves a major problem for the recruiters of the 1.5 million salaried workers who come to the UK each year. Unizest was built by an experienced team from the financial services industry and recently received an extensive marketing support package from Mastercard.
Matthew Cushen, Founding Partner of Worth Capital, said, “Unlike many companies in the frenzied fintech space, Unizest has a clear target audience and a clear problem that needs to be addressed. The team has a way to reach this target group that should have a very low acquisition cost. And they have a product and branded offering that is forensically tailored to their type of user, along with a team that has delivered in the past. “
YOUNGEST WINNER: FC LABORATORIES, Healthtech – SEIS investment
Founder: Mat Norbury
FC Laboratories develops portable security devices for monitoring and alerting mental acuity. They are initially targeting the hard hat market – construction, engineering, and utilities – for which health and safety are a high priority and which have the budgets to support investment.
Paul Soanes, Founding Partner of Worth Capital, said: “The UK is not the only country making our way out of the pandemic. We expect the construction sector worldwide to be vibrant in the next few years, and the FC Labs product is a very smart solution for companies investing in the health and safety of their employees while improving productivity and quality. We were very impressed by Mat throughout the competition. His understanding of both the technology and the market problem was truly remarkable. “
LAST WINNER: THE PREFERENCE HUB, B2B SaaS – SEIS investment
Founder: Adrian Lawson
The Preference Hub is a cloud software-as-a-service subscription (SaaS) product that registers, monitors, and maintains millions of handheld devices used across industries, such as: B. for inventory control, warehousing, price search and medical care. Your product solves a major organizational and operational problem for large corporate users. And they have already generated sales and concluded sales partnerships after just 10 months.
Paul commented, “Adrian recognized a recurring problem for companies that deploy a large number of rugged mobile devices – it’s difficult to keep track of them. His solution is a beautifully executed software platform that enables companies to control their devices with an obvious and measurable ROI. TPH’s outstanding growth is evidence of Adrian’s focused customer focus and natural sales and marketing skills. “
LAST WINNER: ONEƎ, Eco Apparel – SEIS investment
Founder: Carrie Davies
ONEƎ creates clothing with a lower environmental and social impact compared to traditional methods – less water, less energy, no chemicals, ethical work practices, circular reuse and fabric recycling and even fixing past mistakes. 1% of every sale goes to the cleaning of textile waste. You’re starting out by targeting the £ 6 billion UK underwear market.
Matthew commented, “We always make sure that any company we support leaves the world in a better place than they found it. Occasionally, however, the whole purpose of a business is to be commercial. ONEƎ is right on trend to create a clothing brand aimed directly at the consumer that is an antidote to fast fashion. “
PREVIOUS WINNER: FIVE-POINT BOTANY, Health & Beauty – SEIS Investment
Founders: Zaffrin & Brian O’Sullivan
Five Dot Botanics develops high-performance, semi-premium skin care products. The business is right on trend, with only five ingredients in each product, minimal and sustainable packaging, and a gender-neutral brand and target audience. Sales are increasing, including within two Hut Group brands and a new distribution agreement for the Middle East.
Matthew said, “Since the Start-Up Series Fund first invested in Five Dot in early 2020, we’ve seen steady growth in direct and wholesale sales in a market that is increasingly wanting to reduce chemicals and a less Ingredient, simple approach. “
YOUNGEST WINNER: FOX ROBOTICS, Agritech – EIS investment
Founder: Henry Acevedo
Fox Robotics is developing an autonomous logistics and data collection robot for farmers. The hardware and software solution significantly improves fruit and vegetable yields, reduces waste caused by labor shortages, and quickly pays back the farm’s investment. The electrical product, which is helping farmers become more climate neutral, is currently in a paid trial with the UK’s second largest soft fruit farm.
Paul said, “We like the Agritech room but struggled to find something we liked to consider for investment. Eventually we found Fox Robotics to lead this round to raise funds for the advancement of autonomous technology through real-world experiments this year. Fox Robotics is a very clever technology that solves a big and growing problem on fruit farms and we are excited to be on board. “
PREVIOUS WINNER: THE MOVING WAREHOUSE, B2B SaaS – EIS investment
Founder: Daniel Verblis
The Moving Home Warehouse is a packaging supply chain software company for the moving industry that enables moving companies to deliver directly to their end customers if required. This means that unnecessary journeys and administrative work are taken out of operation. With Pickfords and Any Van Group as customers, revenue is forecast to reach £ 2m in 2021.
Paul said: “The Start-Up Series Fund was first invested in November 2018. It appears that 2021 will be the breakthrough year now that three different solutions have been developed that will unleash tremendous value for the moving industry with two major new contracts with leading moving groups. Your latest investment will accelerate technical development and enable the existing working capital to be used for sales and marketing. “
PREVIOUS WINNER: WEEKLY10, B2B SaaS – EIS Investment
Founder: Andy Roberts
Weekly10 is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) subscription business that enables organizations to measure and improve employee sentiment, incorporate and develop company culture, and improve performance on business goals and objectives. Weekly10 is a simple and real-time alternative to traditional and unwieldy engagement surveys and performance reviews. It already has customers all over the world from the UK to the US, from New Zealand to Canada.
Matthew said, “Weekly10 is in a competitive but huge sector – and one with attractive exit routes and multiples. One of the reasons the Start-Up Series Fund initially invested is because the offering differs significantly from others in this area. Rapidly growing recurring revenue, very low churn, and high customer volume that benefits their users show that differences are beneficial. “
The Start-Up Series competition
The series opens for applications each month with the aim of choosing one or two winners to receive:
• Up to £ 250,000 SEIS / EIS Equity Funding (subject to due diligence, terms and conditions).
• At least 2 years of valuable practical help from experienced and battle-tested entrepreneurs
• Media coverage on smallbusiness.co.uk and other channels to promote your business and track your journey.
We are looking for B2B or B2C transactions across all industries. As long as your company is entitled to SEIS or EIS HMRC advance insurance, we will review your application.
We will be impressed with innovative products or services in high-growth or underserved markets with the potential to build a popular brand. If you can demonstrate these, you have a chance of fighting.
As the investment comes from a fund regulated by EIS & SEIS FCA, companies considering entry must meet the following criteria set by the HMRC:
• You must be a UK resident and run a UK based business
• You must be over 18 years of age at the time of entry
• Certain financial services and real estate companies are unlikely to be qualified.
Find out How to enter the start-up series Here