ProxiSmart secures £325k Seed funding led by Mercia

Entrepreneur who set out to save high streets raises £325k for parking app

A North East entrepreneur who set out to help save the UK’s struggling high streets has raised £325,000 to deliver his idea.

Chris Reed has secured investment from the North East Venture Fund (NEVF), which is supported by the European Regional Development Fund and managed by Mercia, and TV ‘dragon’ Jenny Campbell.

His ParkingPerx loyalty app rewards consumers who spend on the high street with money off parking, and takes cashless parking to a new level. It uses ‘smart beacons’ in car parks which recognise customers as they approach, removing the need to use ticket machines or enter location codes. The funding will allow Chris’s Morpeth-based company ProxiSmart to roll out the system and create six new jobs in the coming year.

ProxiSmart has been named one of the 50 most innovative tech companies in England and Chris was shortlisted for NatWest’s Great British ‘High Street Entrepreneur’ of the Year. Yet, as an early-stage regional business, the company struggled for months to raise funds before Chris appeared on TV’s Dragons’ Den and approached Mercia and the North East Venture Fund.
 
He explained: “I’d struggled to find the right investors and was ready to give up on the idea, but Mercia showed strong support and then the opportunity to go on Dragons’ Den came up. The reaction from the programme has been brilliant and demonstrated that there was a real appetite for the solution across the UK. With the backing of Mercia and Jenny Campbell, I am now ready to start deploying into live locations over the coming months.”

ProxiSmart is now working in partnership with RingGo, the UK’s largest cashless parking solution providers, and has signed up over 150 national high street brands.

James Allsopp, Investment Manager with Mercia, said: “It is great to be able to support Chris with the roll-out of ParkingPerx. Chris has developed a great product that could not only help high streets but also have much wider applications. As the business can harvest meaningful information on the movements and habits of people in urban areas, it fits nicely into the current Smart City agenda.”

Richard Butts at Ward Hadaway provided legal advice to the company on the deal, while John Hammill from Square One Law acted for the fund.

The NEVF can invest up to £1.0million for firms in Northumberland, Durham and Tyne & Wear, particularly those which are engaged in innovation or developing disruptive business models. Funding is available to all companies with high growth potential and also pre-start enterprises.

ENDS

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About Mercia Asset Management PLC

Mercia is a proactive, specialist asset manager focused on supporting regional SMEs to achieve their growth aspirations. Mercia provides capital across its four asset classes of balance sheet, venture, private equity and debt capital; the Group’s ‘Complete Capital Solution’. The Group initially nurtures businesses via its third-party funds under management, then over time Mercia can provide further funding to the most promising companies, by deploying direct investment follow-on capital from its own balance sheet.

The Group has a strong UK regional footprint through its eight offices, 19 university partnerships and extensive personal networks, providing it with access to high-quality deal flow. Mercia has over £500million of assets under management and, since its IPO in December 2014, has invested over £84million across its direct investment portfolio.

Mercia Asset Management PLC is quoted on AIM with the epic “MERC” and includes the following wholly owned subsidiaries –

  • 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.mercia.co.uk

About The North East Fund

The North East Fund is a suite five venture capital and loan funds which was established in April 2018, to invest £120m in around 600 North East businesses in the period to March 2023.  The fund managers provide business development advice and investment finance to small and medium sized enterprises based in the seven Local Authority areas of North East England: Northumberland, North Tyneside, Newcastle, South Tyneside, Gateshead Sunderland and County Durham. The programme encourages investment in and the commercialisation of new technologies, including low carbon technologies, as well as stimulating new business creation, private investment and entrepreneurialism in the North East, with a view to creating over 2,500 new jobs.  The North East Fund has overall responsibility for the programme, which is delivered through five separate funds, each managed by independent, FCA regulated fund managers.  Details of these, and up to date information on the progress of the programme, is available on The North East Fund’s website: www.northeastfund.org

The North East Fund has been established with funding from the North East of England European Regional Development Fund programme, the European Investment Bank and from returns on previous North East based, publicly supported investment funds.  It is jointly owned by the seven North East local authorities

About the European Regional Development Fund

The North East Fund will receive up to £58,500,000 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.  Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.

About the European Investment Bank

The European Investment Bank (EIB) will lend up to £60,000,000 to the North East Fund programme.  The European Investment Bank is the long-term lending information on the progress of the programme, is available on The North East Fund’s website: www.northeastfund.org

The North East Fund has been established with funding from the North East of England European Regional Development Fund programme, the European Investment Bank and from returns on previous North East based, publicly supported investment funds.  It is jointly owned by the seven North East local authorities

About the European Investment Bank

The European Investment Bank (EIB) will lend up to £60,000,000 to the North East Fund programme.  The European Investment Bank is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals.  For more information, visit: http://www.eib.org/about/index.htm

Manoj Ranaweera

Manoj has founded, failed and successfully exited from a number of technology product companies as well as support organisations since 2004. Among them, Northern Tech Awards and edocr.com were acquired by GP Bullhound and Accusoft, Inc respectively. Today, Manoj is building a trusted support network for technology companies. He is working with founding teams to help them accelerate including raising investment and M&A.