In November 2016, Foresight VCT invested £4 million of growth capital into Simulity Labs (“Simulity”), a specialist technology business based in Bangor and Belfast, that produces embedded communications software for SIM, eSIM and the next generation of connected devices.
Following investment, Foresight and the management team developed and implemented a comprehensive 100-day plan, which involved expanding the company’s product offerings, transitioning the business to a more licensed and software focused growth strategy and opening additional offices in India and the USA. The investment, which led to a 25% growth in staff numbers in the UK, helped attract key global partners and customers with an increased level of confidence in the provision of critical products, especially in overseas markets such as Israel. It also attracted the attention of potential acquirers and, just eight months after investment, in July 2017, Foresight successfully completed the sale of Simulity to world-leading semiconductor IP company ARM delivering a near three times return to shareholders at an IRR of 400%.
Stephane Fund, Founder and CEO, Simulity Labs said: The institutional backing of Foresight allowed us to scale the business and continue to build our world leading team and technology, whilst also providing huge credibility in discussions with large global corporates. Foresight has worked closely with us, particularly during the exit process.”
Downing-managed VCTs provided growth capital to Xupes Limited, an online retailer of pre-owned luxury goods including high end watches, handbags and jewellery, to help support the business’ strong early growth metrics. Downing were attracted by the opportunity to back an experienced management team as they sought to build their brand into the go-to online store for pre-owned luxury goods.
Following Downing's investment the business has been able to hire additional sales, marketing and technology staff bringing their workforce from 22 to 38 full time employees. This expansion of the team has already begun to reap benefits with Xupes’ revenue 45% ahead of budget as at 31 December 2017.
The company has also generated excellent press coverage, featuring in Harper’s Bazaar, the Evening Standard and the Times in 2017, and Business Insider in 2018. Downing has been impressed with all aspects of the business and is delighted to be supporting the team at Xupes with their growth ambitions.
Secret Escapes was founded in late 2010 and offers an online marketplace for mass market, luxury discretionary travel. It is headquartered in London.
Secret Escapes recognised that even the best hotels do not have 100% occupancy and most luxury hotels are unwilling to discount their room prices publicly in case this damages the perception of their brand. Secret Escapes can help these hotels manage their revenue by selling excess capacity in advance to a dedicated audience of Secret Escapes members at a discount. Secret Escapes members love the service also: post stay satisfaction scores are above 95 per cent.
According to Alliott Cole of Octopus Ventures who led the initial round of investment, while Octopus was attracted to the commercial opportunity and the size of the potential global market, it was really the strengths of the founding team that led Octopus to invest at a very early stage and at all subsequent funding rounds.
Octopus first invested in Secret Escapes in 2011 from its Titan VCTs. As well as contributing its own capital, Octopus led a syndicate including the US Venture Capital house Atlas Venture and a number of UK based angel investors including angels who had founded or helped build businesses such as LOVEFiLM, Net-A-Porter, Zoopla and Huddle. This was followed by four more capital injections as the company began to scale internationally. Beyond their investment, the Octopus team was able to offer valuable strategic guidance to the business, assist with recruitment and team building and work with the senior management to define an international strategy.
From small beginnings four years ago with just three founders, Secret Escapes now employs over 600 people, with offices in London, Berlin, Munich, Stockholm, Warsaw, New York and San Francisco. Its membership has grown to 42m people worldwide. Co-founder Tom Valentine says the company is now a market leader in the UK, Germany and the Nordic countries, an achievement that would have been impossible without investment from the Octopus Titan VCT.
Channel Mum was founded in 2015 by highly successful 'mumpreneur', Siobhan Freegard OBE who in 2000 also co-founded the UK's biggest parenting website Netmums - aimed at millennials mums and parents-to-be.
Netmums was revolutionary and transformed the way women connected on the web, but as times changed Siobhan recognised the growing trend of searching YouTube for information on parental guidance and she saw the opportunity for a platform to present an ‘honest, authentic face of parenting’. NVM's funding has been used to accelerate growth and attract more millennials to the community.
The Channel Mum platform is described as ‘YouTube’s friendliest – and most honest – community for mums’ bringing together thousands of parenting videos in one easy to navigate site where vloggers and businesses alike are able to work with Channel Mum to get in front of their target audiences.
Siobhan leads a talented media team with parenting experience and created Channel Mum by gathering together a group of established vloggers to share their experiences of motherhood. The new site www.channelmum.com curates the best video parenting content from over 150 digital influencers signed to the company, known as ‘mummy vloggers’ and the aim is to build on the popularity of online parenting communities to be the leading video-based parenting proposition.