Product Guru, an online platform described as ‘Tinder for retail buyers and product suppliers’, has secured a £300,000 investment.
The Scottish company has received financial backing from Asia-based retail technology investor Belmond Capital, Scottish retailer Scotmid and Scottish Enterprise.
Buyers from high street retailers including John Lewis, Tesco and TK Maxx have already signed up to use the technology platform, which allows their buyers to find new products for their shelves.
Simon Coyle launched Glasgow-based Product Guru in September 2018 after spotting a gap in the market.
“After running my own companies for nearly 20 years, I have first-hand experience of how difficult it can be for emerging brands to get their products in front of retail buyers,” he explained.
“From the retailers’ point-of-view, they may have lots of customer-facing modern technologies in their stores – such as automated checkouts or digital ads – but Product Guru is the first technology platform to shake-up their back-office product discovery operations and make it easier for them to discover the latest trends and find exciting new products for their customers.”
He added: “This £300,000 investment will allow us to further develop our platform for both buyers and suppliers with analytics and intelligent recommendations, while marketing our services to a much wider audience.
“Buyers are pushed for time, so Product Guru makes it quicker, easier and – ultimately – cheaper for them to connect with potential suppliers.”
Patricia Poon, Managing Partner and Founder of Belmond Capital, and a former head of retailer WH Smith’s business in Asia, said: “Product Guru is solving problems on both sides of the fence – it allows both local and international emerging brands to get their products in front of buyers and it allows retailers to stay on trend and choose from a wide selection of options cost effectively at the click of a button. Product Guru’s intelligent platform digitises retailers’ product discovery workflows, and greatly improves the productivity of retail buyers.
“Belmond Capital invests in companies that are disrupting their markets, across retail, financial services, communications and industrial sectors.
“Product Guru fits perfectly into our portfolio and I’m looking forward to working with Simon to add more intelligent functionalities, and to scale the platform both in the UK and internationally.
Belmond Capital’s other retail tech investments include Nextail, a prescriptive analytics and AI-powered inventory optimisation platform based in Spain, Frenzy, an US-based exact-match visual search platform revolutionising computer vision and London-based Yapster, a mobile messaging platform for deskless hospitality and retail teams.
Paul Cross at Scottish Enterprise, said: “What’s most exciting about Product Guru is that it helps brands and distributors get their products under the noses of influential buyers.
“Simon is not only growing his own business but is also helping other emerging brands and smaller companies – in Scotland and elsewhere – to grow as well.
“Backing businesses like Product Guru is at the heart of the Scottish Enterprise’s mission.
“Technology has revolutionised so many parts of our working lives and it looks like Product Guru is now set to change the way that buyers and suppliers do business.”
Product Guru operates a freemium business model. Basic features are free for suppliers and retailers with a subscription service available to brands providing sales analytics, product engagement statistics, product trends and other rich-data analytics.
Product Guru is a product discovery platform that allows suppliers of products across all FMCG, home, gift and travel categories to showcase their products to retail buyers. Product Guru has been designed to overcome the challenge to both buyers and suppliers in getting the right products into the right hands at the right time.
The unique platform allows suppliers to showcase their products to relevant buyers, and provides details of the products in a uniform way. This allows buyers to make clearer decisions by giving them the information they need to isolate the products that meet their criteria.
Foresight Group LLP (“Foresight”) and Williams Advanced Engineering (“Williams”) are pleased to announce a £2 million investment as part of a £2.9 million growth round into the disruptive technology business Synaptec Ltd (“Synaptec” or the “Company”). The Foresight Williams Technology EIS Fund led the round alongside £100,000 from the newly created Foresight Scottish Growth Fund financed by the Scottish Growth Scheme through a combination of Scottish Government funds and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and £800,000 from existing shareholders, including The Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise, Equity Gap and the University of Strathclyde.
Synaptec was founded in 2015 as a spinout from the University of Strathclyde and is led by Philip Orr, Managing Director. The innovations developed by Synaptec are based on work Philip and his co-founders conducted at the University of Strathclyde’s Institute for Energy and Environment, one of Europe’s leading power engineering research groups.
Electric power grids are becoming increasingly complex to manage due to a growing proportion of energy being provided by renewable sources. New methods are required to measure and maintain a stable electricity supply for customers. Synaptec addresses this problem by passively monitoring the grid using existing optical fibre networks. It avoids expensive auxiliary equipment for communications, GPS or power at measurement locations and can operate over a range of 100km. Synaptec’s systems are safer to install, have a smaller footprint and lower environmental impact than alternative sensors.
Synaptec offers the first secure and scalable system for wide area fault detection, monitoring and analytics of electric power grids that is cost-effective at scale. It has already seen demand for its systems from international customers.
The investment round led by Foresight will be used to scale-up manufacturing, engineering and business development capabilities.
Commenting on the investment, Andrew Bloxam, Senior Investment Manager at Foresight said:“Synaptec offers a truly disruptive technology that addresses a global problem. The experienced management team has already achieved a considerable amount of success over the past three years of development and we are delighted to have the opportunity to support the business as it scales.”
Matthew Burke, Head of Technology Ventures, Williams Advanced Engineering, added: “With Synaptec combining innovation, technology and reduced environmental impact, it is a company that very much aligns with the objectives of Williams Advanced Engineering. We look forward to working with Synaptec to help commercialise their technology to enhance energy network performance and resilience.”
Philip Orr, Managing Director and Co-Founder, Synaptec, added: “The backing of Foresight and Williams Advanced Engineering brings both financial acumen and world-renowned expertise in engineering design and manufacturing to Synaptec. Their support is a significant moment in the continuing growth and success of our highly interdisciplinary engineering firm as we continue to disrupt the instrumentation market and revolutionise how critical electrical infrastructure is managed and controlled. The technical fit between Synaptec and Williams is excellent, and we will be drawing upon their know-how to scale up our manufacturing capacity and rapidly develop new product offerings. This investment represents an exciting new phase of growth and development for Synaptec and will enable us to make a positive and lasting impact on the global energy transition.”
Kerry Sharp, Director of the Scottish Investment Bank, said: “Synaptec is a great example of an innovative Scottish company which has developed technology that brings solutions to challenges within the power industry. The Company has global growth ambitions and this investment round demonstrates the strength of belief in the technology and the team. Scottish Investment Bank is delighted to provide funding alongside co-investment partner Equity Gap and new investor Foresight Group and also to bring the wider support mechanisms from Scottish Enterprise to support the Company’s next stage of growth.”
Stuart Mackenzie, Commercialisation Infrastructure Manager at the University of Strathclyde, said:“The University is delighted to participate in this latest milestone in Synaptec’s growth. Synaptec is a fantastic example of the contribution Strathclyde technologies can make to industry, and of the types of companies the University is looking to create and support through its role in the Glasgow City Innovation District, where Synaptec is based.”
For further information contact:
Amy Smith, Communications Executive, Foresight Group firstname.lastname@example.org/020 3763 6978
NOTES FOR EDITORS
About Foresight Williams Technology EIS Fund
Foresight and Williams announced the unique collaboration represented by the Foresight Williams Technology EIS Fund in November 2016. It combines the Williams Advanced Engineering team’s expertise with Foresight’s successful investment track record.
The Fund enables investors to qualify for relief under the UK Government’s Enterprise Investment Scheme (“EIS”) for investment into early stage UK SMEs with strong intellectual property in their own specialist fields.
The Fund plans to make investments of up to £3 million into at least ten qualifying UK SMEs per investor, supporting the next generation of engineering technology success stories in the UK.
About the Foresight Scottish Growth Fund
The recently established £20 million Foresight Scottish Growth Fund under the Scottish Growth Scheme contributes up to £2 million of equity to investment rounds of up to £10 million in growing Scottish SMEs. Investing over the next five years, the Fund aims to support economic growth and job creation in Scotland, also attracting additional private sector investment, by backing exciting growth companies across a range of sectors.
The Foresight Scottish Growth Fund (Scottish Growth Scheme – Foresight Group Equity Finance LP) is financed by the Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund from the 2014-20 European Structural Funds Programme in Scotland. It is part of the Scottish Growth Scheme, a £500 million package of financial support for Scottish businesses backed by the Scottish Government, which aims to help businesses grow.
About Foresight Group LLP (“Foresight”):
Foresight is a leading independent infrastructure and private equity investment manager which has been managing investment funds on behalf of institutions and retail clients for more than 30 years.
Foresight has £2.9 billion of Assets Under Management across a number of funds, including Listed Vehicles, Limited Partnerships, Enterprise Investment Schemes (EISs), Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) and Inheritance Tax Solutions using Business Property Relief (BPR).
Foresight’s Private Equity team, comprising 24 investment professionals, pursues four discrete but complementary investment styles: Venture, Impact, Growth and Replacement Capital through its growing regional office network.
Foresight was voted ‘Best VCT Investment Manager’ at the 2017 Growth Investor Awards, having been previously awarded ‘VCT House of the Year’ at the 2016 Unquote British Private Equity awards. Foresight was recently a shortlisted finalist in the 2018 Unquote British Private Equity Awards as Venture and Growth Capital House of the Year. Foresight was recently names ‘Fund Manager of the Year’ at the PLC Awards.
Foresight is headquartered in London with regional UK offices in Manchester, Nottingham, Milton Keynes, Leicester and Guernsey and international offices in Sydney, Rome, Madrid and Seoul.
Williams Advanced Engineering Limited operates a technology and engineering services business and is part of the Williams Group.
In 2010, Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited began diversifying its operations, leading to the establishment of the Williams Advanced Engineering division, which has now become Williams Advanced Engineering Limited. Combining cutting edge technology and the industry’s best engineers with precision and speed to market derived from four decades of success in the ultra-competitive environment of Formula One, Williams Advanced Engineering provides world class technical innovation, engineering, testing, manufacturing and operational consultancy services to the automotive, motorsport, aerospace, defence, health and energy sectors. Working in close collaboration with its customers, Williams Advanced Engineering helps meet the sustainability challenges of the 21st century and improve performance, with its expertise in aerodynamics and thermodynamics, electrification, advanced lightweight materials, simulation and vehicle integration. The Company was honoured with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation 2018.
TheScottish Investment Bank(SIB) is the investment arm of Scotland’s national economic development agency, Scottish Enterprise, operating Scotland-wide in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise. SIB’s activities support Scotland’s SME funding market to ensure businesses with growth and export potential have adequate access to growth capital and loan funding.
SIB also provides funding into LendingCrowd, Scotland’s marketplace lender providing loans to SMEs. SIB’s team of Financial Readinessspecialists help companies to prepare for new investment and access appropriate finance.
Tidal energy company Sustainable Marine Energy Limited (SME) has secured equity investment totalling £3.46 million to further develop its PLAT-I tidal energy platform system.
The Edinburgh-based business has closed its latest funding round, to which the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB) has committed £1m on behalf of the Scottish Government via the latter’s Energy Investment Fund (EIF).
Marine propulsion and renewable energy company SCHOTTEL HYDRO GmbH (SCHOTTEL) has contributed £2.46m to the fund-raise.
SME undertook initial testing of the PLAT-I system near Connel, Argyll and Bute in 2018. The device was then transported to Grand Passage, Nova Scotia, where it generated power for the first time in February this year.
There it is continuing SME’s testing and demonstration programme in preparation for the build out of a larger project at the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) located in the Minas Passage of the Bay of Fundy.
Jason Hayman, Managing Director, SME said: “It is fantastic, and a great testament to the team for all their hard work to close this funding round. Securing new investment from the Scottish Investment Bank and commitment from SCHOTTEL for our work in Nova Scotia will enable us to take a significant step forward on our renewable energy journey.”
SIB Director Kerry Sharp said: “SME has repeatedly proved its resourcefulness, culminating in the successful testing of its innovative PLAT-I platform and generation of first power. We’ve supported the company every step of the way since it relocated to Scotland in 2016 and have underlined our continued backing by contributing to its latest fund-raise.
“This investment could ultimately see SME further its commercial activity, placing the company at the forefront of the development of tidal energy technologies and further cementing Scotland’s position as a leading player in the global transition to a low-carbon economy.”
Press Office email@example.comScottish Enterprise is Scotland’s national economic development agency and aims to deliver a significant, lasting effect on the Scottish economy. Our role is to help identify and exploit the best opportunities for economic growth. We support ambitious Scottish companies to compete within the global marketplace and help build Scotland’s globally competitive sectors. We also work with a range of partners in the public and private sectors to attract new investment to Scotland and to help create a world-class business environment.