Archives for category: startups

From Tech City News:

Music engagement tool Buddybounce has raised its first seed round.

It makes the startup the very first investment of pro-female angel network Angel Acadame.

The amount of money raised is not being disclosed.

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Olivia Stiles of Kingsley Napley on Angel Academe:

I hadn’t had any real experience of working with entrepreneurs until I joined the Corporate and Commercial team [at Kingsley Napley] in September last year. I have to say that without exception, the entrepreneurs I have come across have been bright, astute, driven and incredibly focused people. Certainly no time for hanging out in Starbucks or pressing snooze; they have all been “do-ers”. I got a further insight into the world of entrepreneurs and angel investing when I attended my first Angel Academe event in October last year.

Angel Academe is a female friendly (but not female-only) angel investor group which provides, mentoring, non-exec advice and investment to technology focused startup businesses and entrepreneurs. Kingsley Napley are a sponsor of the Angel Academe and provide legal support to the investor group, drafting the heads of terms, investment agreements and ancillary documents when an investment is made and follow the process through to completion of the deal and the transfer of investment funds to the company.

More on the Kingsley Napley blog.

From TechCrunch: “With social media here to stay, it’s become a powerful tool for marketing amongst musicians, especially when they have fans who do so much of the heavy lifting by promoting the artist. Some of those fans are genuinely ‘super fans’ who act as, basically, unpaid promoters. And they can be powerful. For instance, Justin Bieber fan account @JustinCrew has over one million followers on Twitter. But identifying them, and then rewarding them for their dedication is a problem that needs solving.”

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Reposted from Angel Academe – where we’ve had a veritable slew of announcements this week!

Buddybounce raises seed investment in round led by Angel Academe

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We are in the age of the super-fan, where the most passionate followers of an artist, such as the Justin Bieber fan account @JustinCrew, can themselves have over one million followers on Twitter. In recognition of this trend, Angel Academe, a new, pro-women angel investment network, has just given its first seed capital to Buddybounce: an online tool that gives artists and their management teams the knowledge and insight to identify their super-fans, understand who they are as individuals and engage with them in new ways.

Buddybounce was launched in April 2013 by Emma Obanye and Giulia Piu and has attracted over 25,000 registered users to its beta site as well as the attention of artists, labels and brands including Transmitter, Union J and Conor Maynard. In that time they have given away over 150 prizes including Meet & Greets, Skype calls, signed merchandise and gig tickets.

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Giulia (left) and Emma (right)

As Emma explains, “the rise of social media has allowed fans to get closer to artists in a way that never existed before. When artists start having fans across various social media platforms, managing their relationship with them becomes tricky. We are here to help to provide them with a solution.”

This is the first investment by Angel Academe, a network whose mission is to encourage senior professional women to become angel investors, especially in women founded tech businesses. Sarah Turner, the founder of Angel Academe, explains that “we loved Emma and Giulia’s passion, we were very impressed by the momentum they’d achieved so far with extremely limited resources and immediately, crucially for us, saw where we could add value to their business.”

Lead investor Hannah O’Shaunessy will be joining the Buddybounce board and taking a hands-on role in the business. She brings extensive finance and operations experience. Other investors in the round include long-term advisors Alicia Navarro, CEO at Skimlinks and Geoff Heath OBE, former Climax chairman, Founder of Activision Europe and NCsoft Europe. Legal support has been provided by leading law firm Kingsley Napley who are Angel Academe sponsors.

For more information on Buddybounce contact:

  • Emma Obanye: emma@buddybounce.com
  • Giulia Piu: giulia@buddybounce.com

For Kingsley Napley, contact:

  • Louise Willows: LWillows@kingsleynapley.co.uk

Notes to editors

Buddybounce is a modern day fan club for fans of musicians. On one side it gamifies the fan experience allowing fans to earn status, recognition and be rewarded for supporting their favourite artist (both online and offline). On the other side, through the Dashboard, Buddybounce allows musicians and their teams to know who their superfans are, manage their communications with them all in one place and reward the core fans, to enhance engagement, advocacy, retention and drive sales. https://www.buddybounce.com/

Angel Academe is a female-friendly (but not women only) community and angel network for senior professionals with extensive business experience who want to support female tech entrepreneurs. We believe that to help more women go big with their ventures, we need to increase the number of women mentors and investors.

Kingsley Napley is an internationally recognised law firm based in central London. Our wide range of expertise provides support for clients in all areas of their business and private life. Jane Keir (senior partner) and Linda Woolley (managing partner) are the only women in the most senior posts of a top 100 UK law firm and with 40% of our partnership also being women, Kingsley Napley is proud to support the objectives of Angel Academe through mentoring and sponsorship. http://www.kingsleynapley.co.uk/

Sarah

Cross posted from the Angel Academe blog:

We’re just a week away from this year’s first AA networking event, held at the London offices of our sponsor Thomson Reuters. Here’s how the evening is looking…

We’ll be gathering over a coffee from 5.30 and then we’ll have introductions at 6 from Angel Academe founder Sarah Turner and Aarthi Thana, Global HR Business Partner, IT Services at Thomson Reuters.

This month’s “Inspirational Angel” talk will be from Kerri McKechnie, Director at My Wild and our associate on the City of London Entrepreneur Academe programme.

We’ll then have pitches from two very different businesses and entreprenuers: Vicky Brock, CEO at Clear Returns and Debbi Evans, Founder at Libertine.

And of course we’ll finish off the evening with drinks and networking. If you’d like to sign up for the event head over to our Eventbrite page.

Sarah

We’re delighted to report that our friends Brand Embassy have closed a $1 million round of seed investment with two funds and are opening six new offices globally. We first got to know Brand Embassy and its founder Vit Horky when acting as mentors on the Start Up Yard accelerator in Prague; it was clear from the get-go that Vit had a great business on his hands and we’ve watched its progress eagerly ever since.

Here’s how BE have made the announcement:

Brand Embassy equips companies to answer customer service inquiries through social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, enabling them to provide “social care” for their customers with its SaaS platform. it has moved quickly to establish its niche in the evolving customer service industry. “Our platform has been used by over fifty large international companies across the world,” says Vit Horky, Co-founder and CEO of Brand Embassy. “They’ve handled over 7.5 million service issues via Brand Embassy since 2012. Currently our strongest sectors are with telecoms and financial groups – two sectors where customers demand a fast and accurate response to their queries.”

Congratulations to Vit and the team; we look forward to watching where the business goes next.

For more information, go to the News page on Brand Embassy.

Simon

From the Angel Academe website:

We’re delighted to announce the first of this year’s Angel Academe networking event (and the fifth so far!), which will be held at the Tech City offices of our co-sponsor Thomson Reuters on the evening of March 4th.

As usual, we’ll hear from an inspirational angel investor and some fabulous founders looking for help for their businesses. We’ll also be announcing details of a mentoring programme for female entrepreneurs. 

We will release more details here as we have them and of course we’ll be covering the event on twitter (#AApitch) and blogging it extensively after the event. In the meantime, if you want to register for the event – and it’s selling fast! – head over to our Eventbrite page.

Sarah

Last week Sarah and I attended the second BBC Future Media Indie Briefing events of the year, once again held in the Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House, or New Broadcasting House as it seems it must now be called. Last spring’s event was hosted by Kirsty Wark; today it was the turn of Fiona Bruce, who was fantastically charming and smart – and a great anecdote spinner.

The first of the day’s speakers was BBC FM director, Ralph Rivera, who talked us through what his area had achieved over the last few months and where they were headed next (indeed, his presentation was simply titled “Where Next?”) Last year’s full digital service for the Olympics had inevitably led to lots of BBC teams asking for “the Olympics treatment”, and that treatment – now branded BBC Live – was rolled out this year to Glastonbury and Wimbledon. The next few months will see even more BBC Live moments, including the World Cup, the Winter Olympics and the Commonwealth Games.

In the meantime, FM are still executing the 1-10-4 strategy (1 Service, 10 Products, 4 Screens) and Ralph gave several examples of success arising from that strategy, including the CBeebies app (1.4 million downloads, effectively doubling CBeebies’ traffic) and BBC Weather.

However, Ralph admitted that so much of what FM does is still a digital extension of what’s already happening of BBC Radio and TV; his ambition is still to make “new stuff” in “new ways”. They’ve already made some strides here, including iPlayer-premiered Dr Who mini-episodes and the recently launched Playlister, which adds BBC radio editorial curation to the algorithmic and social recommendation normally found in such music services as Spotify (and apparently Spotify are very happy with it).

Alerts are going to be a big thing in future developments and the iPlayer catch up window is going to expand from 7 to 30 days – which is unquestionably a major deal.

Lastly, the future vision for the production was one of “continuous delivery”: Build > Deploy > Test > Release > Build and on and on. This is all about reducing time from idea to implementation and crucially, Ralph concluded, none of this could be done without partnerships – something no doubt most of the room would be relieved to hear.

Next up was the turn of a former colleague from my days in BBC Radio and Music Online: Tim Plyming. Last time we hooked up with Tim he was doing great stuff at the British Museum, but now he’s back at the Beeb as the digital exec leading the massive World War 1 Centenary. I say “massive” because, as Tim said, the centenary is going to be “the biggest season the BBC has ever done”, following WW1 in “real time” across 4 years.

At its heart the season is going to be about personal and locational connection to the war, and will be driven by online (the centenary has a recently relaunched website). Previous views of this war have tended to look at it through a particular prism, portraying it as four solid years of horrendous trench warfare. But there’s so much more to it than that, and digital only content will, over the next few months and years, start to tell rather different stories, not least about life on the home front (it was new to Sarah and I that Brighton Pavilion, just down the road from us, was used for treating injured servicemen).

And once again, partnerships were going to be key to making this successful. There’s already one up and running with the Imperial War Museum: “WWI at Home” which will eventually be home to over 1500 individual stories.

The opening session concluded with a presentation from BBC Audiences, represented by Carmen Aitken, Head of Audiences and Research Manager Simon Kendrick. Here are some of the headlines from their presentation:

  • 30% of UK homes has 5 or more connected devices.
  • 55% of digital consumers still access online only on a desktop PC (so rumours of the PC’s death have been greatly exaggerated, it seems)
  • The screen is not the biggest determinator of choice. Actually it’s more likely a combination of location, mood and content
  • “Time Rules All”; understanding the shape of people’s day is crucial to understanding their media use.
  • Upcoming demographic change meant that yes, the audience would be getting older – but there is going to be a lot more young media consumers too.
  • Kids: always online, always multitasking, on mobiles, but also – still watching TV and still reading books, apparently
  • (I was struck – though hardly surprised – that mostly what kids do on tablets is play games.)
  • Developers need to make stuff simple: don’t make things challenging
  • Despite all this, kids apparently aren’t going to have very different “basic human needs” from their predecessors (something I’m not so sure about, but that’s another issue.)

The pair took questions from the audience, with Sarah getting straight in with a question about how they arrived at audience insight. The answer it seems, is through a whole host of measurement methodologies.

We had a short break, then it was the turn of the Connected Studio team, with whom we’ve been working pretty closely over the last year, one way and another. The presentation opened with Robin Cramp who talked us through the 7 projects that are going through to production from the Build Studio phase (remember: 5 had been promised, so delivery is outstripping expectation). The projects included:

  • Perceptive Audio App, made by Aardman and Profero
  • Predicto Machino, from Leeds’ MadeByPi
  • EEZL, by Peekabu in Edinburgh
  • Virtual Crowd, also from MadeByPi
  • Pocket Pundit, from Aerian, Wiltshire

sportTwo things struck me about the projects: firstly, and mostimportantly, I really don’t believe these projects would have arisen from “business as usual”. And secondly, it’s great to see the geographical spread of the companies whose work is going through.

We were also given a couple of demonstrations. John Davison of Kanoti talked about the HTML5 “photographic comic” they developed for Inside No 9 at the Comedy Lab. And Matt Shearer from BBC News presented the work done at the BBC News Labs. #newsHACK was a 2-day event held at Shoreditch Town Hall that brought together 10 news organisations and 6 universities, and opened up APIs on over 400,000 articles. The event has led to collaborations with both Sky News and the Financial Times and a follow up is planned for spring.

newshack

Connected Studio’s chief, Adrian Woolard, finished up the CS presentation with a round up of some of the lessons learned, some examples of other people doing well in this space, principally because they are allowed to fail (including govUK and Makeshift), and finally a look at some upcoming initiatives, including a News Archive CS in Northern Ireland, a Classical Music CS in Wales, #newsHACK 2, more studio sprints and the relaunch of the CS online presence.

From our point of view, as strong supporters of Connected Studio, it’s great to see it take centre stage at this event once again.

Finally, Ralph took the stage again, this time with Jane Weedon, Director of Business Development, to take questions from the audience. I’m afraid I got in with the second Turner Hopkins question of the day. I wanted to know about the fate of the Digital Public Space in all of this – the answer to which seems to be that rather than an initiative in its own right, its become a kind of defining ethos behind a lot of other BBC FM activity, from CS to the WWI season.

All in all, another fine event, and a great window on the work BBC FM is doing with the external sector. Congratulations to all those who put in the evident hard work to pull it off.

Simon

We’re happy to present a series of cross postings from Delta 2020, who invest in in high growth start up or early stage companies, but also put out genuinely interesting insights on their blog.

A report compiled by Markit and KPMG has highlighted the strong performance of the UK technology sector in comparison to the private sector overall. Markit polled 150 tech companies as part of its regular survey of 1000 companies operating in the UK. The report identified tech employment clusters, job hiring and growth trends as well as business outlook expectations. Presented is an encouraging portrait of the UK tech sector.

Here are some of the key findings:

Location of UK technology sector employment clusters

  • Wokingham has the highest number of tech jobs in Great Britain, with a proportion of more than five times the UK average. This may be explained by Microsoft and Oracle’s UK HQ’s being situated there.
  • The top 10 tech jobs clusters are all close to major transport links in the South East.

Screen shot 2013-11-21 at 12.37.38

  • 70% of all local authorities in the South East have a higher proportion of tech jobs than the UK average.
  • Outside of the South East, the regions with the highest local authority tech jobs quotients, were Tewkesbury (11th overall), Christchurch (15th overall), Cambridge (18th overall), South Cambridgeshire (21st overall).

Job hiring and growth trends

The number of jobs in the sector now exceeds 1m out of a total of 28m employees across all UK sectors (~3.57%). This compares with 915,000 out of 27m in 2010 (3.39%). For the last four years, jobs in the tech sector have grown more rapidly than the private sector overall. Employment in the tech sector year on year for the first half of 2013 rose by 4.3% compared with 0.9% for the private sector as a whole. UK tech sector output growth is the fastest since May 2010.

Business outlook

83% of tech companies in the UK forecast a growth of business activity over the coming year, compared with 60% across all sectors. Tech companies’ expectations for business activity are at their highest since 2009. Tech companies employment levels are expected to be higher than the private sector average – a net balance of +31% for tech companies compared with the private sector net balance of +23%.

Notes

‘Technology sector’ terminology – The Markit and KPMG report classifies technology sector employment as a ‘workplace based’ concept, rather than an ‘occupation based’ concept. The report has also estimated that a weighted combination of the following five SIC categories represents the best available bellwether for the footprint of ‘technology jobs’ within UK local authorities.

The ‘Technology Sector’ industry groups:

  • Software publishing (SIC 582).
  • Computer programming, consultancy and related activities (SIC 620).
  • Data processing, hosting and related activities; web portals (SIC 631).
  • Manufacture of computer, electronic and optical products (SIC 26).
  • Manufacture of electrical equipment (SIC 27).

Sources

Tech Monitor UK: Understanding tech clusters and tracking the UK tech sector’s outlook for employment and growth
UK technology job creation outpaced other sectors for four years

Last Tuesday Sarah hosted the fourth of the networking events she’s putting on as part of her work for Angel Academe, the investor network she founded last year. For newcomers, Angel Academe is, in Sarah’s own words, “A community of professional women with extensive business experience who want to support tech entrepreneurs – as mentors, non-execs and angel investors.” This time out we were at Thomson Reuters‘ London HQ in Shoreditch, as TR have agreed to be one of the network’s key sponsors over the next year, along with the law firm Kingsley Napley.

Agenda Oct13

The evening took the same format as previous events: an introduction from Sarah, a talk by an “inspirational angel” and three pitches from female entrepreneurs. And networking over drinks, of course.

After outlining AA’s mission and the situation it’s trying to address (in short, the dire like of female investors in tech firms – or generally, for that matter), Sarah took the opportunity to talk about the work the network has undertaken over the last year, which includes three large networking events (at Tech City HQ, UBS and the BBC’s newly re-opened Broadcasting House) and the setting up of an investor group, who currently have two substantial investments under consideration.

Cyndi Mitchell

Sarah was followed by Cyndi Mitchell, Co-Founder and CEO of Logscape, experts in data analysis and visualisation. Cyndi gave a delightful talk, recalling how she had been an early investor in a friend’s scaling up of Foo Foo Fun Box, an initiative to help post-natal mums with pelvic floor health. What was refreshing about the story was that it showed how angel investment isn’t just for the super wealthy. Cyndi invested just £10k in FFFB, but this was enough to get it to the next level. Crucially, though, it wasn’t just cash she brought to the table; she was able to call on her massive personal experience as a tech entrepreneur to advise her investee.

Anne Bruinvels

The first of the evening’s pitches came from Anne Bruinvels, Founder at Px HealthCare (ie, “Personal Healthcare”). Anne talked about the Owise app, which gives people personalised healthcare solutions, initially focussing on breast cancer. A couple of things she said really resonated with me, and, I think, with many in the audience. “Those gathering anonymised health data should make it available for research”, something I’ve become acutely aware of watching the burgeoning Quantified Self movement. And she said that the company had started almost as a way of directly answering the question: “Is it possible to have a socially motivated business and make money?” She firmly believes, of course, that you can.

Julia Grinham2

The second presentation couldn’t have been more different. Julia Grinham is CEO and Co-Founder of Upper Street, a service which allows customers to design their own shoes. Julia definitely pulled off an Angel Academe first, handing out boxes of some of these custom made shoes, which are plainly beautifully made and come exquisitely packaged. She talked about the huge potential in the custmomised clothing market and cited it as context for seeking to grow the company into a £3m firm in the near term.

Buddy BounceFinally, Emma Obanye took the stage to talk about BuddyBounce, of which she is the co-founder. Buddy Bounce sets out to answer a key conundrum in the arena of social media marketing: brand owners (record labels, agencies, broadcasters and so on) might be able to lay their hands on a lot of stats, but in truth they don’t really know who their “superfans” are. Users of BB are able to aggregate all their existing social media activity in one space, allowing brands to interact directly with fans and rewarding superfan behaviour. The service is currently targetting the record industry and already has 20k active users, on effectively no marketing; it’ll be looking to other entertainment sectors once it’s proved its model in music.

Audience

So there you go. If you’d like a bit more detail on how the evening went, and what some of the key points made were, then look up the twitter hashtag #aanetworking. Sarah’s currently in Turkey, at meetings in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir, where she is, among other things, talking about inward investment to the UK and, of course, female angel investment. I’m sure when she’s back she may have a few things to add about the event.