Smart Recruit Online secures £630k Seed investment from Mercia

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£630k investment to boost growth of online recruitment business

A company which has designed a software platform that helps businesses optimise online recruitment has raised £630,000 to support its growth plans.

Smart Recruit Online secured the funding from the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), and private investors.

Smart Recruit’s system combines the latest technologies with insights from behavioural science and tried and tested recruitment processes. It enables companies to address the problem of how to attract the best talent online quickly and at low costs.

The funding will allow the Milton Keynes-based company to develop its technology further, while expanding its 12-strong team, creating up to six new jobs.

Smart Recruit was designed by Mark Stephens, who has over 20 years of experience in the sector, for use in his own recruitment business. After recognising its potential, the team rebuilt the platform in 2015 to enable clients to use it directly. It is now used by over 700 businesses, including Next, JCB, Securitas and Whistl, with an average cost per hire of under £300 and an average time-to-offer of 16 days, with 94% of vacancies successfully filled.

Mark Stephens, the company’s CEO, said: 

“Our platform solves a key problem for employers – how to recruit the best talent online quickly and efficiently and achieve better value from their budget. Our existing clients are proof of the benefits it offers, and the latest investment will enable us to roll it out to many more companies.”

David Baker of Mercia added: 

“Smart Recruit Online is ideally suited for today’s digital world and remote working practices. Mark and his team have already built a strong client base, and the latest funding will allow them to enhance the technology further and scale up the business.”

Grant Peggie, Director at the British Business Bank, said: 

“The MEIF Proof of Concept Fund is well suited to early-stage businesses with potential for expansion.  Smart Recruit is an example of an innovative, growing business seeking funding to scale up its activities and we would encourage other similar businesses across the Midlands to consider MEIF as a possible funding option.

Vicky Hlomuka, SEMLEP’s Growth Hub Manager, commented: 

“Having first engaged with Mark in August 2020, it’s great to see the business securing funding to continue to develop Smart Recruit Online. Not only will the platform continue to support businesses to optimise online recruitment, the funding will create additional job opportunities in Milton Keynes.”

Alistair Hammerton of Shoosmiths provided legal advice to Mercia, while Michael Pearce of DAC Beachcroft advised the company.

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.

ENDS

Press contacts

Alison Dwyer

Head of Marketing & Communications

Mercia Asset Management PLC

+44 (0) 7464 480 137

[email protected] 

Pauline Rawsterne
PR Agent
Turquoise PR

+44 (0) 161 860 6063
+44 (0) 780 163 9816

[email protected]

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 Connected Capital’. 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 footprint through its regional offices, 19 university partnerships and extensive personal networks, providing it with access to high-quality deal flow. Mercia currently has c.£800million of assets under management and, since its IPO in December 2014, has invested over £96million into its direct investment portfolio. Mercia Asset Management PLC is quoted on AIM with the epic “MERC”.

The Group raises its own Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) Funds and details about open offers can be found through Mercia’s website.

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 Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF)

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund will invest in Debt Finance, Small Business Loans, Proof of Concept and Equity Finance funds, ranging from £25,000 to £2m, specifically to help small and medium sized businesses secure the funding they need for growth and development.

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund is operated by British Business Financial Services Limited, wholly owned by British Business Bank, the UK’s national economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity.

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, the European Investment Bank, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and British Business Finance Limited, a British Business Bank group company.

The MEIF covers the following LEP areas: Black Country, Coventry & Warwickshire, Greater Birmingham & Solihull, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, The Marches, and Worcestershire in the West Midlands; and Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham & Nottinghamshire (D2N2) Greater Lincolnshire, Leicester and Leicestershire, and South East Midlands in the East Midlands.

The project is receiving up to £78,550,000 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 www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.

The funds in which Midlands Engine Investment Fund invests are open to businesses with material operations, or planning to open material operations, in, the West Midlands and East & South East Midlands.

The British Business Bank has published the Business Finance Guide (in partnership with the ICAEW, and a further 21 business and finance organisations). The guide, which impartially sets out the range finance options available to businesses and provides links to support available at a regional level, is available at www.thebusinessfinanceguide.co.uk/bbb

About the British Business Bank

  • The British Business Bank is the UK government’s economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity. Its remit is to design, deliver and efficiently manage UK-wide smaller business access to finance programmes for the UK government.
  • The British Business Bank’s core programmes support nearly £8bn[1] of finance to almost 94,800 smaller businesses[2]. Since March 2020, the British Business Bank has also launched four new Coronavirus business loan schemes, delivering almost £73bn of finance to around 1.6m businesses.
  • As well as increasing both supply and diversity of finance for UK smaller businesses through its programmes, the Bank works to raise awareness of the finance options available to smaller businesses. The British Business Bank Finance Hub provides independent and impartial information to businesses about their finance options, featuring short films, expert guides, checklists and articles from finance providers to help make their application a success.
  • In light of the coronavirus pandemic and EU Exit, the Finance Hub has expanded and it now targets a wider business audience. It continues to provide information and support for scale-up, high growth and potential high growth businesses, but now provides increased content, information and products for businesses in survival and recovery mindsets. The Finance Hub has been redesigned and repositioned to reflect this, during this period of economic uncertainty.
  • British Business Bank plc is a public limited company registered in England and Wales, registration number 08616013, registered office at Steel City House, West Street, Sheffield, S1 2GQ. It is a development bank wholly owned by HM Government. British Business Bank plc and its subsidiaries are not banking institutions and do not operate as such. They are not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). A complete legal structure chart for the group can be found at www.british-business-bank.co.uk

[1] Figures as at end of June 2020

2 Figures as at 28 January 2021

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Safiya Marzook

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