Force24 secures £4.8 million Series A investment from YFM Equity Partners

Digiqole ad

Force24 announces growth plans following £4.8m investment into marketing automation platform

YFM Equity Partners (YFM) has invested £4.8m in marketing automation platform Force24, to support further roll outs of intuitive technology features, double its headcount, strengthen the team’s skill set and continue to build its global footprint.

It has been Force24’s mission to deliver a world-class, intuitive marketing automation platform that enables brands to grow by removing marketers from the day-to-day grind and freeing up their time to think strategically.

 

During this time, the Leeds-headquartered organisation has helped over 4,000 marketers from B2B and B2C brands – including Michelin, Tarmac and BBC Children in Need – to deliver over 900 million marketing emails throughout 2020. In addition, its company revenues are expected to reach over £3.5m by the end of 2020, despite the economic impact of the global crisis.

The latest round of investment comes on the back of a profitable 2019 which saw the 10-year-old Yorkshire firm double email delivery from 80m to 190m, launch 2,000 additional platform features and grow its workforce from 35 to 54.

And now all eyes are on what Force24 can achieve next.

Commenting on the large-scale investment, managing director and founder Adam Oldfield said:

“In a competitive space traditionally dominated by huge American vendors, we’ve grown – at times against all odds – because we have long stood in the marketer’s corner and are not prepared to lose sight of our values. We take great time and effort to ensure our relationships with clients come first and results second. This has been crucial to our 98% retention rate.

“We’ve worked tirelessly to liberate marketers from the time-intensive shackles of their role, and enable them to achieve what they actually want to do. This investment won’t detract from this – it will supercharge our efforts, enhancing and amplifying everything we stand for as a business.

“We are here to empower marketers to deliver more with less. The funding means more free training, the recruitment of more creative colleagues on hand to offer support exactly when our clients need it, us ploughing more knowledge and educative efforts into the market, and the further expansion of our platform’s functionality, so it solves an even greater number of problems in the marketer’s tech stack.”

Force24 manages 400 trillion data exchanges which pass through the UK-built and managed, GDPR-compliant platform each year, which gives some idea as to the expansion of the company to date.

And Force24’s commercial director Nick Washbourne said YFM’s proven track record of supporting fast-growing businesses proved critical to progressing this investment collaboration. 

“We are immensely proud to have seen our business go from strength to strength – not least during one of the most difficult economic climates in modern history,” he said. “Force24 is now at a crucial next stage of development and, to take the business forward, we knew we needed to partner with an investor that has real insight into our sector.

“We are confident that YFM is the right fit for us culturally – this team really understands what we’ve already achieved and want to do next as we continue on our growth trajectory.”

Speaking about how the investment will help to develop more business opportunities, Adam added: “During 2020, Force24 has seen a significant increase in client numbers, because the pressures of Covid-19 have only reinforced the need for brands to have strong digital relationships with their customers and prospects.

“Over the next three years, our customer numbers could rise to in excess of 2,000 because I truly believe we’ve started a movement around prioritising the relationships we hold with our clients.”

YFM has a national portfolio of software and tech businesses, including data transformation software company Matillion, retail footfall data firm Springboard and global e-learning platform Elucidat.

Mike Clarke, partner at YFM – and who will also join the Force24 board following the investment – said:

“Adam, Nick and the team have identified a gap in the market to provide a sophisticated marketing platform that delivers a high level of service and account management, at an attractive price point.

“Force24 has an ambitious vision for the future, including doubling the size of the team over the next 18 months, and we want to play a key role in helping it to achieve this.”

ENDS

About Force24

Force24 is an award-winning, multichannel marketing automation platform which powers ultra-personalised email, SMS, direct mail and social media conversation with clients throughout the UK.

As well as saving marketers an average of eight hours a week via its technology, the Leeds-headquartered team helps to equip professionals with the skills to build website landing pages in under five minutes and email campaigns in seconds.

About YFM Equity Partners

YFM Equity Partners are specialist, independently owned, private equity investors. With over 30 years of experience, we seek to unlock value and growth potential by providing up to £10 million of equity to fuel the development of established business throughout the UK regions. We do this by helping our portfolio companies grow niche businesses, launch new initiatives, make transformative acquisitions and upgrade technologies and systems. Through our offices in Leeds, London, Manchester, and Birmingham, we are dedicated to working alongside management teams to create long-term value for our investors, the companies we invest in and a positive impact on people, society, the economy and the environment. We manage funds in excess of £300 million which include venture capital trusts and private equity funds.

YFM Equity Partners conducts its investment business through its subsidiary YFM Private Equity Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN: 122120). 

Investor Press Release :

YFM makes investment into fast growing marketing automation platform

YFM Equity Partners (YFM) has boosted its growing portfolio of high-growth technology businesses with an investment into award-winning marketing automation platform, Force24.

Force24 is a cloud-based marketing automation platform that allows an in-house marketing manager to deliver personalised marketing campaigns with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) integration. The platform is already trusted by a number of  household brands including Michelin, Tarmac and BBC Children in Need, to deliver over 900 million marketing emails so far this year, and the business saw turnover leap by 40% from 2018 to 2019, with revenues expected to reach over £3.5m this year despite the economic impact of the global pandemic.

Led by the founders, managing director Adam Oldfield and commercial director Nick Washbourne, Force24 has grown to a 54-strong team with its headquarters in Leeds.

Adam Oldfield said:

“We are immensely proud to have seen the business go from strength to strength, it is now at the next stage of its development and, to take it forward, we knew we needed to partner with an investor that has real insight into our sector.

“YFM has a proven track record of supporting fast growing businesses and we undertook our own due diligence, talking to entrepreneurs within the PE house’s investment portfolio as well as to professional advisers, all of whom were very positive. We are confident that they are the right fit for us culturally – they really understand our business and believe in our growth trajectory.”

YFM has a national portfolio of software and tech businesses, including data transformation software company Matillion in Manchester; Springboard in Milton Keynes which provides footfall data to the retail industry; and global e-learning platform Elucidat, based in Brighton.

Nick Washbourne added:

“Over the last few years, Force24 has experienced fast paced growth and despite some initial customer disruption at the outset of the pandemic, we have seen a resurgence in demand as more businesses accelerate their digital transformation.

“We have already established a strong foothold in the UK with increasing numbers of marketers recognising the key differentiators of our platform. This investment will help us to strengthen our sales and marketing operation, enabling us to build our profile in the market as well as continuing to develop the platform and invest in innovation.

“Over the next three years, we plan to significantly invest in our technology to enable marketers to save even more time and deliver even better messages via a broader range of message mediums. Force24 works with small, medium and large companies in a wide spectrum of industries, across B2B and B2C markets. During 2020, we’ve seen a significant increase in customer numbers, and changes to working practices  have meant brands now place even more importance on holding strong digital relationships with customers and prospects.”

Mike Clarke, partner at YFM, will join the Force24 board following the investment. He commented:

“Adam, Nick and the team have identified a gap in the market to provide a sophisticated marketing platform that delivers a high level of service and account management, at an attractive price point. With the ever-growing demand for online marketing and the company’s commitment to helping upskill and support users, the business has huge potential.

“Our portfolio experience means we are well placed to help cutting-edge tech businesses scale up, and many are experiencing a surge in demand in the current environment. Force24 has an ambitious vision for the future, including doubling the size of the team over the next 18 months, and we want to play a key role in helping it to achieve this.”

The YFM team comprised Mike Clarke, Ian Waterfield and Aaron Lowery. Jim Whittaker, Rob Umpleby and Jonny Haygarth at Grant Thornton in Leeds ran the investment process for management at Force24; and Jonathan Simms and Sarah Harrison of law firm Clarion advised management. James Foster and Sophie Davies of Shoosmiths provided legal support for YFM; Martin Athey of BHP led financial due diligence; James Bagan of Sales Forensics provided sales due diligence; and Phil Snell of James Cowper Kreston provided tax advice.

Jim Whittaker, director at Grant Thornton, which acted as lead financial advisers on the fundraising, commented:

“Force24 is a best of breed marketing automation platform, and YFM’s investment will allow the company to accelerate its development roadmap and growth ambitions. It has been a pleasure to support yet another fast growing tech business in the Yorkshire region.”

  • Ends –

About YFM Equity Partners:

YFM Equity Partners are specialist, independently owned, private equity investors. With over 30 years of experience, we seek to unlock value and growth potential by providing up to £10 million of equity to fuel the development of established business throughout the UK regions. We do this by helping our portfolio companies grow niche businesses, launch new initiatives, make transformative acquisitions and upgrade technologies and systems. Through our offices in Leeds, London, Manchester, and Birmingham, we are dedicated to working alongside management teams to create long-term value for our investors, the companies we invest in and a positive impact on people, society, the economy and the environment. We manage funds in excess of £300 million which include venture capital trusts and private equity funds.

YFM Equity Partners conducts its investment business through its subsidiary YFM Private Equity Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN: 122120).

Digiqole ad

Safiya Marzook

Related post