Rent Chief secures £250k Seed investment from Mercia Technologies

Mortgage duo secure £250k investment for new property platform

A Birmingham company which is developing a new property management platform has secured a £250,000 investment from the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund – managed by Mercia and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund – and a number of private investors.

Rent Chief’s new online platform aims to help property investors, landlords and lettings agents maximise returns and time by automating routine tasks, such as finding new tenants and reliable tradespeople. The platform also provides updates on new sector regulations and sources mortgage and insurance products.

Rent Chief has been launched by serial entrepreneurs Patrick Shuker and Jon Whitmore, the same team behind the TrigoldCrystal mortgage services group which was sold to Avelo in 2012.

The funding will allow the firm to bring its product to market, launch a sales and marketing campaign and create five new jobs. As part of the deal Jon Whitmore, the former CEO of TrigoldCrystal, has been appointed as Non-Executive Chairman of the company.

Patrick Shuker, CEO of Rent Chief, said: “From our work in the property sector and experience as landlords, we recognised that there was a gap in the market for a platform that could bring together all the different aspects of property investment and management. We are looking forward to the launch of Rent Chief and working with our investors as we continue to develop and enhance the product.”

David Baker, Investment Associate with Mercia, said: “Patrick and Jon have a strong track record within the financial services and property sectors and Rent Chief has already attracted interest from a number of early adopters. This investment will allow them to complete the software development and put their plans into action.”

Ken Cooper, MD at the British Business Bank, added: “It is great to see finance from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund being used to bring innovative products to market. With the backing of the team at Mercia, Rent
Chief looks well positioned to roll out its online platform and enter a new stage in its growth journey.”

Pat Hanlon, Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership’s (GBSLEP) Board Director for Access to Finance, said: “Helping to support ambitious companies like Rent Chief with their growth plans is key to our local economy. We are pleased to see another start-up bringing its innovative services to the region and contributing to the region’s economic growth.

“We will watch its success with interest, and continue to support businesses with investment to realise their full potential.”

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.

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For more information, please contact:
Katy Horrocks
Marketing Director
Mercia Technologies PLC
+44 (0) 330 223 1430
+44 (0) 772 521 8579
katy.horrocks@merciatech.co.uk
Pauline Rawsterne
PR Agent
Turquoise PR
+44 (0) 161 860 6063
+44 (0) 780 163 9816
pauline@turquoisepr.co.uk

About Mercia Fund Managers
Mercia Fund Managers provides both equity and debt finance to small businesses based in the UK regions. The Group has approximately 400 businesses in its portfolio, a strong record including 11 IPOs and has circa £0.5billion of assets under management including Mercia EIS Funds.
• Mercia Fund Management Limited is authorised and regulated by the FCA under firm reference number 524856
• Enterprise Ventures Limited is authorised and regulated by the FCA under firm reference number 183363
• EV Business Loans Limited is authorised and regulated by the FCA under firm reference number 443560
www.merciatech.co.uk

Source: https://static.wixstatic.com/ugd/497d73_5ade9262fdbe49c4b7adc77a12dca7ad.pdf

LendInvest secures up to £200 million in funding from HSBC UK to back entry into home loan mortgages

London, 8 April 2019 – LendInvest, the marketplace for mortgages, has secured funding of up to £200 million from HSBC UK, one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations, bringing further institutional capital to its platform.

This new funding will enable LendInvest to enter the regulated home loan market for the first time, marking the company’s next step towards achieving its ambition of becoming a whole-of-market mortgage provider. Launching in 2019, LendInvest’s first home loan product will be available to homeowners that require short-term bridging finance for terms up to 12 months.

The £200 billion mainstream UK mortgage market is ripe for disruption. LendInvest’s unique marketplace model and proprietary technology supported by high quality institutional funding provide borrowers with attractive products, a much faster process and excellent service – and investors with the opportunity to access an attractive, secured asset class.

LendInvest has lent over £2 billion to borrowers to date, having quickly taken market share in the short-term finance market and rapidly built scale in the buy-to-let market.

LendInvest manages a substantial and diverse capital base. In addition to HSBC UK, LendInvest’s bank funding partners include global banks Citigroup and Nomura, European banks and a number of UK-listed challenger banks. Alongside multiple institutional funding lines, LendInvest enables corporate investors and sophisticated or HNW individuals to invest in the mortgages it writes via its Co-Investment Platform, discretionary fund and £500m LSE-listed bond programme.

Christian Faes, Co-Founder, and CEO of LendInvest commented: “LendInvest continues to attract investment onto our platform from some of the world’s largest and most sophisticated investors. This new funding from HSBC is a further important step forward in the evolution of our business. We have shown to great effect how our technology-driven approach to lending can succeed in the specialist loans market. Our sights are now firmly set on continuing to build out our platform and on ultimately disrupting the £200 billion mainstream UK mortgage market.”

David Langford, Relationship Director in HSBC’s Non-Bank Financial Institutions Team in London added: “We are delighted to partner with LendInvest and the platform’s experienced team on this funding. The deal demonstrates our commitment to providing access to funding in an evolving UK residential property market in order to help support housing supply. We look forward to the launch of this exciting mortgage product and seeing how it will benefit new and existing LendInvest customers.”

About LendInvest

LendInvest is a new type of financial services business: the marketplace for mortgages. LendInvest’s unique platform and proprietary technology solve complexity for borrowers and provide investors with stable income secured against property.

Since launching in 2008, LendInvest has lent over £2 billion and built a significant and diverse capital base comprising individuals, corporates and some of the world’s largest financial institutions.

Media contacts

Leigh RimmerPublic Relations Manager

Tulchan CommunicationsTom Murray / Jonathan Sibun

Acre Platforms secures £5 million investment from Aviva and Sesame Bankhall Group

02 April 2019 → Sesame Bankhall Group (SBG) and Aviva today announce a £5 million investment in new technology start-up firm Acre Software.

Sesame Bankhall Group (SBG) and Aviva today announce a £5 million investment in new technology start-up firm Acre Software – the next-generation mortgage, protection and general insurance platform. The exclusive arrangement between SBG and Acre will help to transform the way mortgage and protection advisers process business and service their clients.

Acre was born out of Founders Factory, which is an organisation that offers an incubator for start-up companies and assists with product development, market insight and capital. Aviva Ventures is an investor in Founders Factory and worked with SBG to help facilitate Aviva’s investment in Acre.

Despite the rise in direct-to-consumer strategies, led mainly by lenders and new challengers, nearly three quarters of UK mortgages are facilitated by advisers 1. However, in order to retain their position, advisers need to match the speed and end-user experience of these market disruptors, but are slowed by fragmented workflows and compliance headaches.

Acre’s goal is to radically improve the whole experience around the mortgage and insurance application process for advisers and their clients. Acre uses blockchain to bring together all the components of the mortgage advice process into one unchangeable ‘record of the transaction’, putting brokers back in control of their business and offering a seamless, faster journey for consumers. With the volume of transactions provided by Sesame Bankhall Group, Acre aims to become one of the largest users of blockchain in the UK.

Commenting on today’s announcement, John Cowan, Executive Chairman, Sesame Bankhall Group said: 
“After undertaking a comprehensive 12-month review of the market, we concluded that we could no longer ignore the new competitive threats circling around our profession and we had to act. Working with Aviva Ventures, we saw an opportunity to turn the threat posed by new disruptive technology on its head. Acre will bring the latest technology know-how, and that coupled with our distribution expertise will help advisers and their clients reap the benefits.”

Justus Brown, CEO/founder of Acre Software and former Founders Factory Chief Product Officer, said: 
“Buying a house is one of the biggest financial transactions a person can make, yet the process is slow, opaque and fragmented, which is increasingly out of step with consumer expectations. We’re changing this – levelling the playing field for brokers using innovative tech, while putting an informed consumer at the centre of the mortgage process. We are thrilled to have SBG’s distribution muscle and industry expertise, along with Aviva and SBG’s financial support at our disposal on this journey.”

Commenting, Martin Schultheiss, Group Managing Director, Sesame Bankhall Group added: 
“SBG serves over 10,000 financial advisers across the UK and facilitated £42 billion in mortgage completions last year. These advisers are looking to us to help build the next generation of adviser services to ensure they stay competitive. The SBG and Acre relationship helps to enable this future vision for us.”

Commenting on Aviva’s investment in Acre, Ben Luckett, Managing Director, Aviva Ventures, said: 
“Acre is a fantastic example of the kind of fintech business we want to help nurture. They have identified a market which could be improved through technology and they’ve gone for it by securing a very large distribution partner, which is often the missing ingredient for success. I’ve really enjoyed watching the company develop, and the investment we’re announcing today will allow them to build their team further and realise their full potential.”

The Plum Guide raises £14 million led by Talis Capital

London, 21 March 2019 – The Plum Guide has raised £14m from some of Europe’s leading early-stage investors to support its ambitious rollout to 12 new cities this year. Known as the “Michelin Guide for Homes”, The Plum Guide differs from mass market booking platforms by selecting only the top 1% of properties in any city to feature on its site. By the end of 2019 it expects to offer almost 12,000 verified homes in the most sought-after cities for holiday rentals, with 100 new hires being made to support its growth ambitions.

The latest funding round is led by Talis Capital, with participation from Latitude and Hearst Ventures, as well as Octopus Ventures – who led the Series A funding round.

The Plum Guide uses hospitality industry experts to vet every property in person and applies a scientific Plum Guide test – which covers 150 points from proximity to cafes and transport, to speed of WiFi – when selecting which homes to feature. Since launching in London in 2015, The Plum Guide has achieved year-on-year growth of three times revenues, for three years’ running. In 2018, it added homes in five new cities to the platform and saw repeat bookings jump 27% after it opened in Paris, its second location after London. The key to its success has been customer referrals, which drive a quarter of all bookings.

“We are on a mission to build a marketplace of the world’s most beautiful holiday homes. This isn’t some vague qualitative ambition. We mean it. We are taking a systematic and obsessive approach to vetting every single home on the planet and accepting only the top 1%,” Doron Meyassed, Founder and CEO of The Plum Guide, said.

The Plum Guide was founded to solve the problem of inconsistent quality, encountered by anyone booking a vacation rental online. Most open marketplaces rely on peer-to-peer review systems to judge quality, but standards vary hugely in reality. The Plum Guide instead uses a rigorous testing approach that aims to guarantee consistent quality every time.

It uses a proprietary algorithm to find the highest rated and best located homes in a city. Expert hospitality critics from The Plum Guide then visit each home to interview the host and meticulously test the property. Ultimately, only 1 out of every 100 properties in each city is invited to join the collection.

The approach has resonated with a lucrative customer segment of mature affluent individuals, who make up the majority of Plum’s 1.3 million global user base. “Most rental platforms are trying to get as many people as possible to use their site. We are clearly targeting a highly discerning group of affluent professionals that live in global megacities, love to travel and value great design, quality and locations,” says Meyassed. “Previously they have stayed away from the open marketplace booking platforms, which they consider too risky compared with the reassurance that a hotel provides.”

The Plum Guide has innovated relentlessly on meeting the needs of this customer, through a unique mix of expert property curation, impartial and trustworthy vetting processes and outstanding customer service through its team of MatchMakers. It has achieved customer satisfaction scores that outperform industry peers in a sector notorious for over-promising but under-delivering.

Matus Maar, Managing Partner and Co Founder at Talis Capital, said: “The consumer market has entered into an age of curation where data, ratings and reviews need to be carved into useful information to support buying decisions. We see huge value in businesses and teams that create a competitive advantage by being strategically data driven. The Plum Guide has something very special and customers are already showing amazing loyalty for its hand-picked and meticulously-vetted holiday rentals. In Doron, we have also found a determined, highly ambitious and creative entrepreneur with a track record of building a successful business that competes at the very highest levels.”

Megumi Ikeda, managing director Hearst Ventures, said: “The Plum Guide appeals strongly to the affluent, discriminating traveller as we have seen in its impressive growth in the last three years. Endorsement from professional critics and experts has always been worth having and holiday accommodation is no exception to this rule. As The Plum Guide adds more cities, it will become even more useful to the customer base who are already convinced by its rigorous approach to vetting properties.”

George Henry, partner at LocalGlobe, said: ““Travel and accommodation continues to be a fast-growing market but the supply has become incredibly fragmented, especially in the p2p market. As consumer travel has always suffered from a very low NPS, we believe that a differentiated brand offering a more hands-on service powered by expert curation and data is going to continue to deliver a very unique experience. We are excited to be able to follow on our seed investment in The Plum Guide, which has a keen understanding and eye for detail of what is possible as it rolls out its highly-selective, highly targeted product across new cities and countries.”

Zihao Xu, Early Stage Investor at Octopus Ventures, commented: “The more cities The Plum Guide is in the better it will be for all its customers. We’re excited to continue supporting Doron and the team in taking the company truly global, and building out their vision of what an iconic hospitality brand in the 21st century should be.”

– ENDS –

Contact: sayula@burlington.cc

About The Plum Guide: The Plum Guide is a curated collection of the best holiday rentals available in leading international cities. Listing in London, Los Angeles, Paris, Milan, Rome and New York. The Plum Guide rigorously tests and handpicks only the cream of the crop of rental properties so that customers need never worry about their travel accommodation. For beautiful holiday homes, see: www.plumguide.com

About Talis Capital: Talis Capital is a venture capital investment firm that takes smart money from some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and business people and invests it strategically in early stage technology companies with global potential. Talis has invested over $500m worth of transactions since 2009 and the portfolio includes Darktrace, Onfido, iwoca, Pirate Studios, Luminance, Ynsect and Oh My Green. Focused on building long-term partnerships, Talis leverages its network to give some of the world’s most innovative startups opportunity to thrive. For more see www.taliscapital.com.

About Hearst Ventures: Hearst Ventures is a global investment group that makes strategic investments in fast-growing companies in the media and technology sectors. Since its initial investment in Netscape in 1995, the group has grown to become one of the most active and successful corporate venture funds, with more than $1 billion in strategic investments in companies including BuzzFeed, E Ink, Hootsuite, Pandora, Roku, Via and XM Satellite Radio. Visit http://www.hearst.com/ventures.

About LocalGlobe: LocalGlobe is a UK-based venture capital firm that focuses on seed investments. Seeding ambitious UK founders since 1999 including Transferwise, Zoopla, Improbable, Citymapper, Algolia and Robinhood. Visit https://localglobe.vc/.

About Octopus Ventures: Octopus Ventures, part of Octopus Group, is a leading European venture capital firm that helps pioneering entrepreneurs change the world by taking ideas from inception to international scale-up. Where there is change there is huge entrepreneurial opportunity, particularly in three key areas; industry, money and health. We’ve refined our focus towards these specialisms to discover the next generation of innovators. Octopus Ventures is headquartered in London and New York, with Venture Partners in San Francisco, Shanghai and Singapore who offer exclusive insight and advice to our portfolio companies looking to expand into new markets. Octopus Ventures has supported over 70 outstanding entrepreneurs that are leading the way in disrupting their industries. Companies backed in recent years include allplants, Elvie, Depop, Big Health, graze.com, Eve, Magic Pony, Secret Escapes, Sofar Sounds, Swiftkey, Swoon Editions, tails.com and Zoopla Property Group. Octopus is a group of companies that are experts in start-ups, renewable energy and healthcare infrastructure. Octopus Group currently manage more than £8.5 billion on behalf of our customers. Octopus Energy, Octopus Healthcare, Octopus Investments, Octopus Labs, Octopus Property and Octopus Ventures are all part of Octopus Group. Visit octopusgroup.com.

Leading UK real estate fintech disruptor REalyse secures £3m Series A venture capital investment lead by Anthemis Group

(UK, London): REalyse, a leading UK provider of real estate data and analytics for institutional property investors, lenders and developers, has closed its series A fund raise. The latest investment round was led by market leading venture capital firm, Anthemis Group, and XTX Ventures – the venture capital affiliate of XTX Markets, a leading global electronic liquidity provider.

Set up in 2016, REalyse’s vision is to transform the world’s most valuable asset class by making it faster, easier and more efficient for residential property professionals to determine where, when and what to build. The automated integration of hundreds of datasets covering the entire UK for over 20 years into the platform allows users to reach more accurate conclusions, up to 10x faster than they could before. The company has a significant portfolio of major corporate clients who use its institutional grade data systems; including Legal and General, Cushman and Wakefield, Quintain and Colliers International.

This is the third round of investment for REalyse in just two and a half years. The company’s prior round of investment came in 2017 from a combination of institutional and private investors, including Anthemis Group, Roundhill Capital and PiLabs. Commenting on the news, founder and CEO of REalyse, Gavriel Merkado, said: “We are applying cutting edge quantitative analytics technology to traditional real estate development and investment management, which is crying out for the same type of transformation seen previously in financial markets and other industries. We offer a powerful institutional product which brings clarity and transparency to investment in UK real estate and we want to thank our clients and investors for their continuing support in helping us continue on our mission.”

Iason Nikolakis, managing director at Anthemis Group, said: “Anthemis sees significant growth potential in REalyse. We are believers in the team’s strategy and are excited about the unique, data-driven product they are bringing to the real estate industry.”

-ENDS-

For more information, please contact Jodie Mulchrone (jodie@realyse.com)

About REalyse

REalyse’s vision is to transform the world’s most valuable asset class by making it faster, easier and more efficient for residential property professionals to determine where, when and what to build.

The average professional can spend up to 40 hours per project, or 13 days per month, reviewing data and making sense of the market. REalyse can cut this by roughly 90%.

REalyse’s data analytics platform provides accurate and up to date information on hundreds of data sets including rents, prices, demographics, property ownership information, planning applications and economics that are critical for mid-enterprise real estate development, investment and lending firms.

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