Category: Funds of Funds

FundsFunds of Funds

Showpad Secures $70 Million in Series D Funding

Investment will accelerate global expansion and drive continued platform innovation by the world’s largest sales enablement software provider

Showpad, the leading sales enablement solution, has secured $70 million in Series D funding, a combination of debt and equity, led by Dawn Capital and Insight Partners with participation from existing investor Hummingbird Ventures and new investor Korelya Capital. Silicon Valley Bank provided the debt financing for the deal. The investment will fuel Showpad’s continued global expansion and new product development as Showpad accelerates delivery on its mission to empower sales and marketing to sell the way modern buyers want to buy.

 

Showpad is the world’s largest sales enablement software provider, with more than 1,000 customers worldwide spanning a breadth of industries including manufacturing, healthcare, technology, and financial services. With more than 90 percent year-over-year growth, Showpad’s rapid expansion is indicative of the explosive growth of the sales enablement market segment. According to Gartner, 15 percent of all sales technology spending will be applied to sales enablement technology by 2021.

 

“The growth we’ve experienced in the past year is proof that sales enablement solutions are now a must-have for B2B businesses. We pride ourselves on empowering modern sales teams to increase win rates, deal size, and buyer engagement with a single, scalable platform and a consumer-like user experience,” said Pieterjan Bouten, CEO of Showpad. “The continued support of our investors is validation of our vision for the sales enablement market and our ability to deliver innovation that maximises sales productivity and optimises marketing impact.”

 

Showpad has experienced explosive growth in recent years. In the U.S., the company has experienced 150 percent year-over-year revenue growth and grew the headcount of its Chicago office to more than 150 employees in just 18 months. With this investment, Showpad will drive continued growth in the sales enablement market by adding more than 200 new jobs to its global workforce of 400 in 2019. This investment will also drive the next chapter of the company’s geographic and platform expansion, including deeper penetration into the European market, which Showpad has dominated since its founding in 2011. In addition to its headquarters in Belgium, Showpad has offices in London, Munich, Poland, Chicago, San Francisco, and Portland.

 

With organisations accelerating their investments in sales enablement, Showpad remains focused on extending its leadership position in the sales enablement industry. In 2018, Showpad acquired two technology companies to broaden its sales enablement capabilities, including the $50 million acquisition of sales training software, LearnCore, and the acquisition of meeting intelligence platform, Voicefox. As a result, Showpad now offers the most flexible and complete sales enablement platform and is recognised as a Leader in The Forrester Wave™: Sales Enablement Automation Platforms, Q3 2018.

 

“To date there has been enormous innovation in automating the marketing and sales workflow. However, in the end, sales comes down to one person selling to another,” said Norman Fiore, General Partner at Dawn Capital and member of the Showpad Board. “Historically, this has been an offline process that has been wildly inconsistent and opaque. Showpad’s suite of products succeeds in bringing this process online for the first time with data-rich feedback loops on the effectiveness of teams, managers, salespeople and even individual pieces of sales content.”

“Its AI-driven recommendation engines work at all these levels recommending, for example, the most effective next piece of content for specific customers or the most appropriate training for an individual seller. Since we first invested in 2014, Showpad has consistently demonstrated its ability to define and lead the sales enablement category and we are thrilled to double down on this category, co-leading their Series D alongside Insight.”

 

To learn more about Showpad’s product, mission and vision, visit showpad.com

EquityFunds of FundsInfrastructurePrivate Client

Fairjungle raises €1.8m to accelerate is growth in the European business travel market

The Paris-based start-up, founded by former McKinsey mangers and Apple engineers, has recently raised close to €2m to accelerate the deployment of its modern business travel management solution in France, the rest of Europe, and beyond.

Fairjungle shifts into second gear. After making a name for itself in 2018 in the world of business travel, the start-up intends to accelerate its growth in 2019 with this raise of €1.8m. This round is highlighted by a complementary group of investors such as entrepreneurs Thibaud Elzière (Fotolia, eFounders; PayFit investor) and Eduardo Ronzano (Keldoc; Meero investor), business travel expert Bertrand Mabille (former Europe MD of Carlson Wagonlit Travel), and Whitestones Ventures, an investment fund led by Goldman Sachs alumnus Youssef Kabbaj.

Corporate travel in the technology age
Launched at the end of 2017 by former managers and engineers from McKinsey and Apple, the start-up has developed a solid reputation as an innovative challenger in the world of business travel.

Today, Fairjungle allows business travellers to book all their trips on a single platform in just a few simple clicks, while saving their companies 20-25% on their travel budgets.

Using proprietary algorithms based on the latest machine learning technologies, Fairjungle helps customers reduce the average booking time from 25 minutes to 60 seconds.

Voted 2018 Start-up of the Year at the IFTM Tourism Fair, Fairjungle’s platform today boasts more than 400 airlines and over a million accommodation options, all available at the best prices on the market.

For CEO Saad Berrada “everything started from our experience as consultants at McKinsey. We spent a fortune travelling but had to do so via a user experience dating back to the 1980s. With the technological tools we have today it was mindboggling that there was such a large gap between leisure and business travel. Thus, we set ourselves the goal of providing business travellers with an experience closer to that of Amazon than that of the La Redoute phone catalogue. We worked with a team of former Apple engineers and designers to rethink everything from the ground up; that’s how Fairjungle was born!”

For Youssef Kabbaj, managing partner of Whitestones Ventures (www.whitestones.vc) “FairJungle is a one stop shop solution for lean organizations who want more efficient business travel while improving massively the user experience and streamlining the booking process. The market is enormous and the team is amazing. We are very proud at Whitestones Ventures to be part of this adventure as investors and as (very satisfied) clients.”

Fairjungle redesigned the typical booking process of a business traveller to save time and money for all stakeholders involved. Thus, the platform now allows users to book and prepay their next trip (flight and hotel) in less than one minute (vs. an average 25 minutes with traditional tools). On the employer side, travel management is facilitated through automated travel policy functionality, a travel budget approval module, and an accounting reconciliation support tool.

The start-up has also innovated by offering a gamification module allowing businesses to save nearly 30% on their business travel expenses, while improving employee satisfaction. How? By directly influencing the purchasing behaviour of employees and rewarding them for choosing cheaper travel options. Think of it as an “inverted” loyalty program that promotes savings, realigning the financial interests of the company (the payer) and the travelling employee (the trip consumer).

A barely disrupted €260 billion market
With this raise of nearly €2 million, Fairjungle intends to shake up the European business travel market, estimated at more than €260 billion. Although the market is still largely in the hands of traditional, poorly-digitised agencies, new players are developing abroad. TripActions, a California start-up, is positioned in the same segment in the US and is now valued at more than €1 billion. Fairjungle’s formula for success is to focus on technology and the user experience for both the traveller and employer.

Fairjungle Co-Founder & CTO, Bertrand Guiheneuf, trained at Apple and was long-time right-hand man of Jean-Marie Hullot, CTO of Apple. For him “the opportunity is, above all else, a technological one. The journey, and especially the business trip, has been inadequately disrupted by digital technology: the technical culture dates back to the 1980s and 90s. Much of business travel today is still done manually. This limits the possibilities of existing solutions but also opens up a world of exciting possibilities for a team trained in the development of consumer applications, like Fairjungle.”

Fairjungle shifts into second gear
By leveraging the latest technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence, NDC), Fairjungle is primarily targeting modern companies that are looking for a tool to help them manage their journeys easily and with better costs, whether or not they currently use a travel agency.

Having seen the power of Fairjungle’s platform, a large number of start-ups and SMEs, as well as some larger companies such as OVH, are onboard. With additional success abroad, especially in London and Dubai, the company sees big things ahead beyond France.

Funds of Funds

Rural communities receive a significant boost from The Prince’s Countryside Fund

In June, The Prince’s Countryside Fund has awarded half a million pounds of grant funding to 26 grassroots, community-led projects across the UK, which will benefit people living and working in rural areas.

The Prince’s Countryside Fund awards grants to local organisations, and since 2010 has distributed over £10 million. The Fund’s mission is to help ensure a vibrant rural economy with a thriving and resilient farming sector at its heart, and its grant programme is a major focus of activity to achieve this.

The broad range of successful projects will create locally-delivered solutions to the ever-pressing challenges facing rural communities – from farmer mental health support in Wales, to rural skills training in the north east, and the creation of rural hubs in Northern Ireland.

The Rural Four programme supported 13 of these projects with thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Rural Four aims to tackle isolation in rural areas and is funding projects including social hubs in Norfolk and rural transport schemes in Northamptonshire. It is helping rural communities in Norfolk and Cheshire to improve their digital connectivity by installing high speed broadband in a central hub, which is open to all, and to provide digital skills training in Lincolnshire.

Announcing the grant recipients, Claire Saunders, Director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund said: “It is great to see so many organisations coming up with unique ways to combat the challenges that are facing rural communities and to know these projects are key to making a difference. From funding a community brewery in East Anglia, to a mentoring and land access programme for young entrants to agriculture in Northern Ireland – The Prince’s Countryside Fund is committed to improving the quality of life, in all aspects, for all people living and working in our great British countryside.

“This has been our most competitive round of grant applications in Fund history, with nearly 300 applications requesting £10 million of funding. The applications were all of a very high standard and we are delighted to be working with the 26 successful beneficiaries.”

The Fund will be open again for grant applications in January 2020. More details can be found at www.princescountryside.fund.org.uk/grants.

Funds of Funds

Credit Kudos Raises £2.2m in Latest Round of Funding

Credit Kudos, challenger credit bureau and leader in commercial applications of Open Banking, announced today they have raised £2.2m in their latest round of funding. Funding is led by Ascension Ventures, through its social impact fund Fair by Design, with additional investment from existing investors NFT Ventures and Entrepreneur First’s Next Stage Fund. New backers include Dragons’ Den star Sarah Willingham; prolific angel investor Charlie Songhurst (investor in Affirm, ClassPass, and Coindesk); and key figures from the credit industry, including both the former CEO and MD of Callcredit, now TransUnion, John McAndrew and Graham Lund. The investment will be used to drive further growth within the UK and support expansion into Europe, alongside further investment into Credit Kudos’ platform.

Credit Kudos, which launched its Open Banking platform in January 2018, was co-founded by software engineers Freddy Kelly and Matt Schofield. Upon returning to the UK after working in Silicon Valley, Freddy faced a myriad of challenges accessing credit due to his ‘thin’ credit file. With little to no recent financial activity in the UK, Freddy was offered only limited credit product options, with higher interest rates and restrictions. This experience led Freddy to co-found Credit Kudos to help all people access affordable credit.

In the UK alone, it is estimated that 1 in 4 UK families have less than £100 in savings, demonstrating a pervasive need for access to affordable credit. However, due to insufficient data, many individuals with the most need for credit are at risk of being pushed into high-cost credit options, and have the hardest time accessing affordable loans. It was also revealed that financially excluded individuals pay on average a “poverty premium” of £490 per annum.

Credit Kudos’ mission is to advance financial inclusion through new applications of technology. Credit Kudos provides lenders, brokers and financial institutions with a highly accurate and transparent scoring system based on consumer consented data, providing a fairer representation of an individual’s creditworthiness. Credit Kudos’ solution enables lenders to make better decisions, whilst simultaneously helping previously overlooked individuals access credit.

Investment in this round by Ascension Ventures’ social impact fund Fair by Design (FBD), is a testament to Credit Kudos’ work towards the advancement of financial inclusion and reducing the poverty premium, to enable previously overlooked individuals access to mainstream credit through alternative measures of creditworthiness. “Credit Kudos is very much at the centre of the FBD investment thesis,” said Emma Steele, Investment Manager for Ascension Ventures “They are a core solution to tackling the lack of fair and affordable access to credit for customers, with thin files or no credit history. We very much back Freddy’s ambition to change the way the risk profile of a potential borrower is assessed. By doing that, Credit Kudos has the potential to 1) advance financial inclusion by improving approval rates for people previously excluded by the system 2) help prevent borrowers from being forced into higher priced products and 3) make it easy for lenders to check affordability. We are excited to back the team on this journey.”

Also providing further investment is the world’s leading talent investor, Entrepreneur First. Entrepreneur First have been a part of the Credit Kudos story since inception. Matt Clifford, Entrepreneur First CEO said, “Credit Kudos is tackling a highly complex and challenging problem, taking a new approach that leverages machine learning to power smarter decisions. We are thrilled to be doubling down on our commitment to the team and their vision.”

This funding round has brought a number of new backers including BBC Dragons’ Den star Sarah Willingham, “I’m thrilled to be backing the Credit Kudos team and their mission to make credit scoring fairer and easier for both businesses and consumers. Sadly the traditional methods are still opaque and confusing and all too often consumers are penalised despite being very creditworthy. Applying new data and technology to the problem gives Credit Kudos the ability to make smarter decisions, empowering consumers and giving them greater choice. I look forward to seeing Credit Kudos make a lot of lives easier.”

Securing further investment from both original investors and further industry leaders is evidence of Credit Kudos’ success and growth since Open Banking became a reality in early 2018. “This investment allows us to scale up our business to meet the demands of a post-Open Banking and PSD2 world,” said Freddy Kelly, Credit Kudos CEO. “This funding will be used to expand our engineering and development team to continue to deliver first to market technology across our platform, as well as supporting expansion into wider Europe.”


Foreign Direct InvestmentFunds of Funds

Bitcoin: Stability Not Likely For Burgeoning Investment Product

Since it first became accepted as an investment product, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been fluctuating in price and popularity, going from a viable replacement for cash and credit cards through to merely another flash-in-the-pan concept. Hannah Stevenson, Staff Writer, shares an insight into this product and how its value has changed since it first took off.

Cryptocurrencies, a digital currency that can be exchanged for goods and services in a similar way to cash, have been in circulation since around 2009, although they only became mainstream more recently. Some firms even started accepting it as genuine currency, whilst others have viewed it as an investment opportunity.

Over the years, the currencies have fluctuated in value, as investors and users alike try to understand their potential and adjust to the realities of using online currency as opposed to physical money.

On 8th May, the world’s largest and original digital currency, Bitcoin, jumped around 10 per cent within 24 hours, pushing past $3,700 for the first time in three weeks. Nigel Green, chief executive of deVere Group, commented on the increase.

“It was a relatively sudden jump, and, of course, positive news for those currently holding Bitcoin. However, the price only reached the top of the trading range and investors should not be popping champagne corks just yet.”

 “There are three likely drivers of Bitcoin’s price spike. First, there are widely published reports that according to a leaked interview with a commissioner, a Bitcoin ETF could imminently secure approval from the U.S. securities watchdog.

“Second, the development of the lightning network which will dramatically improve Bitcoin’s well-documented scalability issues, allowing it to move towards mass adoption. And third, the 2020 Bitcoin halving. The code for mining Bitcoin halves around every four years and the next one is set for May 2020. When the code halves, miners receive 50 per cent fewer coins every few minutes. History shows that there is typically a considerable Bitcoin surge resulting from halving events.”

“Bitcoin is the flagship cryptocurrency and, as such, we can expect when its values climb, it will drive prices of other major digital currencies such as Ethereum and XRP.”

This increase is a positive point for Bitcoin, which has faced many challenges in 2019 already, with a number of firms deciding that the currency’s popularity in 2017-2018 was not enough to continue to make it a viable option as a form of payment. 

Among those firms whose attitude towards Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is forward-thinking waste management firm, BusinessWaste.co.uk, which has recently said that it is ‘reluctantly’ no longer accepting cryptocurrencies – such as Bitcoin – as payment for its services.

The company originally announced it had become the first refuse and recycling business to accept these virtual currencies as payment in 2017 in order to give flexibility to their customers in an increasingly digital age. However, the firm says that despite its efforts, the uncertainties of the market are making digital currencies an unreliable source of payment.

Mark Hall, Communications Director of BusinessWaste.co.uk, commented on the figures and his firm’s inability to accept the currency as a form of payment.

“Cryptocurrencies have become much more mainstream in recent years – which is why we were happy to move with the times and accept these digital forms of money as payment. As a business we are dedicated to being thought leaders and innovating to provide the best service to our clients, and accepting internationally-recognised digital currencies was one way we could do that – but, as with many emerging technologies, there are still wrinkles to be ironed out within the cryptocurrency market.”

These forms of currency – which include the most well-known, Bitcoin, as well as other forms such as Ethereum and Litecoin – are not tied to a particular country’s economy as with standard, or fiat, currency. This means it has a tendency to be much more volatile than fiat currency; for example, in 2010, when the currency made its first real-world transaction, 1 Bitcoin (BTC) was worth less than £0.01. In December 2017, 1 BTC was worth over £15,000 – a fluctuation many times higher than a fiat currency would experience over a 7-year period.

This volatility has come to be considered an intrinsic hazard of a currency whose value works much like traditional stocks and shares – where market rumours and movement have potentially massive knock-on effects on its value. This could have potentially serious ramifications for businesses who accept crypto payments and then find themselves with a payment which has dropped significantly in value within a short period – such as in December 2017, when 1 BTC fell in value from £15,000 to £2,500 today in response a crackdown on improper practices in the market.

However, the popularity of cryptocurrencies has also led to unscrupulous users attempting to use ‘scam’ or fake coins to pay for goods and services. Cryptocurrencies rely on key information to verify that they are legitimate, such as the ‘white paper’ which details the origins of a coin, who made it, and how it works. These papers can be forged and simply just made up – which can cause businesses who end up with scam coins to be out of pocket, and as such firms such as BusinessWaste.co.uk have come to realise their fallibility and declined to accept them as payment.

Overall, the issue of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency’s effectiveness and continued acceptance rests on proving their legitimacy as a currency and creating systems where they can be safely traded. This will remain a challenge for the future and will provide many interesting developments for investors and users alike.

ArticlesCorporate Finance and M&A/DealsFunds of Funds

5 ways cognitive assistants are revolutionising banking

Martin Linstrom, Managing Director for UK and Ireland at IPsoft, looks at the next stage in technological evolution of the banking industry and how artificial intelligence (AI) will redefine banking as we know it.

 

The banking industry has made huge strides to drive innovation by investing in new technologies over the last few decades. Commercial banks first adopted telephone banking, then came internet banking and now, for most customers, all your financial services needs can be met via an app. Now, as we enter the conversational era enabled by cognitive AI, customer expectations have evolved once again.

 

Banks have long been ahead of the curve in terms of elevating the user experience for their customers and so, it’s perhaps unsurprising that many are already looking to AI-powered digital assistants and are investing in cognitive solutions to upgrade and scale customer-facing financial management processes. Many banks are also looking at how they can provide the same simple, frictionless service to their own employees. 

 

As AI-powered customer interfaces gain mainstream acceptance, we will once again see a revolution in technological change within the banking industry. So, what functions within banks will cognitive assistants transform?

 

Building a hybrid workforce

Virtual assistants have a twofold capability which is driving innovation in the banking industry. Firstly, they can be implemented in back office functions such as finance or HR and secondly, they can supplement customer service centres. Creating a hybrid workforce of human employees and AI-powered virtual assistants can help drive enormous cost efficiencies and increase staff productivity. Employees in administrative roles can pass their repetitive tasks over to their digital colleague, freeing up their time to focus on more creative or interesting work that requires soft skills whilst customer service agents can pass standard requests through an AI system leaving them with only the most complex of customer queries to deal with.

 

Ubiquitous customer services

One of the most attractive things about AI-powered customer services for banks is its ubiquity. With virtual customer service agents available 24/7 and through a variety of channels such as live message, telephone or email, it’s a win-win situation for both bank staff and customers. From a customer’s perspective, simple requests such as password resets or international transactions can be performed in an instant and there’s no need to visit the bank or spend an hour in a telephone queue to speak to a human agent.

 

Banks adopting customer-facing AI solutions are in fact seeing increased customer satisfaction rates despite removing the human-to-human contact element. For example, since implementing IPsoft’s AI solution, Amelia, SEB, a leading Nordic bank has been able to avoid 544 hours of escalations to customer support with an average handle time of six minutes. What’s more, Amelia has reached an 85% accuracy in immediate intent recognition which has meant a faster service delivery to customers and soaring customer satisfaction. 

 

24/7 banking support

Unlike human agents, digital assistants can work around the clock, seven days a week with no breaks and without tiring. For modern consumers, particularly young digital natives who expect to be able to manage their finances at any time of the day, integrating AI into a bank’s customer service centre will soon become the norm. Chatbots are already an industry standard, therefore at the very least, banks that don’t continue scaling this technology throughout their business will find themselves at a severe competitive disadvantage, trailing behind the market by delivering an inferior customer service experience.

 

Go beyond simple chatbots

Digital assistants with cognitive intelligence capabilities represent the next leap in automation for financial institutions. Digital colleagues like Amelia are now able to perform tasks above and beyond mere transactional ones, digitising more complex financial management processes such as wealth management onboarding and mortgage applications. Unlike simple chatbots, digital colleagues are also able to develop their cognitive abilities through an advanced Natural Language Interface (NLI) which can process customer queries asked in hundreds of different ways, including slang. More importantly for the banking industry, they can handle context switching so that when a customer moves quickly from one request to another, the interface is able to process both requests without starting over.

 

Many banks have already integrated voice capabilities into their finance management solutions. Customers communicate via text or voice to gain quick answers to banking questions, tailored financial advice and can even carry out transactions all from the same channel. Voice-enabled digital assistants can handle payments and transfers, credit card activation, charge disputes and travel alerts for customers at any time, freeing up customer services teams to focus on more complex customer enquiries and giving customers full control and access to their finances. Conversational AI will become more and more widely accepted as banks start to harness the technology to help drive customer engagement and operational efficiencies.

 

Delivering better insights and improved security

Unlocking key business insights is another key driver motivating banks to invest in AI. Sophisticated systems can recognise patterns from the sheer amount of data that they are processing. Thanks to these capabilities, businesses can easily find out the most common types of transactions by customers of a certain demographic and can then retarget this group for specific marketing or sales campaigns, helping to drive revenue. These real time insights can help business leaders make better, more strategic decisions that are informed through concrete data.

 

Real-time data mining can also be applied to improve customer security as many AI tools have built-in privacy and security by design. An AI-powered virtual assistant can pick up on irregular payments immediately, flagging potential “phishers” to a human agent for additional authentication. What’s more, advanced machine learning solutions can improve over time so that banks can continue to scale up their services. Virtual assistants like Amelia can go one step further by ‘learning on the job.’ Essentially, when Amelia does not understand a request or query she can pass it on to a human colleague but remains in the conversation to learn how to resolve the issue next time.

 

The future of retail banking

The financial services industry has long been at the forefront of technological innovation. Whilst many businesses are still debating whether to invest in AI, major banks are very much leading the way to invest in the technology and are thriving as a result. As virtual assistants become increasingly more intelligent and their cognitive abilities develop, the expectations for banks and the services they offer will be elevated. Banks that rest on their laurels and refuse to acknowledge this risk falling behind permanently, particularly with the slew of challenger fintech companies that are appearing on the market, offering dynamic and tailored financial services at a lower price. 

 

 

Cash ManagementFinanceFunds of FundsHedgeWealth Management

BUY YOURSELF A HORSE WITH BITCOIN

Equinox Racing is a London based horse racing syndicate like no other. Focused on delivering immersive experience to its members, Equinox Racing recently opened its horse’s shares to cryptocurrency. From now on, you can use your Bitcoins to buy yourself the thrill of horse racing and the privilege of horse ownership.

 

Rob Edwards, co-founder of Equinox Racing, commented: “There is a huge amount of capital in the crypto world, and not too many tangible opportunities out there. A lot of the people who invested in crypto, particularly in the early days, are punters. They are our kind of people!” 

 

Equinox Racing believes horse racing should not be limited to the chosen few but made available to enthusiasts and new audiences on a wider scale. Having nine horses and about 100 club members and owners to date, Equinox Racing offers a range of exciting experiences. Visit your horse at the stables, speak with the trainer and the jockey, follow his evolution on social media and support him at the race!

 

D Millard from Norwich, Norfolk (horse owner), commented: “Equinox Racing delivers fantastic days out, real prize money winning opportunities, and its stable of horses just continues to grow.” 

 

For the equivalent of £34,99 per month in crypto, which is the average price for gym memberships, Equinox Racing enables you to be part of something greater than a pair of weights. And ownership is available from £150 pounds (in crypto as well)! Thrill, suspense, joy, grace, excitement, exclusivity, are the words that describe the emotions experienced during a horse race.

 

J MacLeod from Ayr (horse owner) commented: “Simply amazing.  My passion for racing has grown now that I have affordable ownership.  I never thought I would be able to own any part of a horse with such a stunning pedigree.” 

 

Equinox Racing is currently expanding its horse’s portfolio and looking at new acquisitions. It is now the perfect time to get involved!

 

More information on: https://equinox-racing.co.uk

crowd funding
FundsFunds of Funds

Top Five Crowdfunding Myths

Top Five Crowdfunding Myths

Joel Hughes, Head of UK and Europe at Indiegogo

Launching a crowdfunding campaign is a lot easier said than done. It takes a lot of effort before the launch, during the campaign and even after funding is complete. Despite the fact that crowdfunding has been around for almost two decades, there are still many misconceptions about what makes a successful campaign, so before you launch your crowdfunding campaign, make sure you have all your facts straight. Joel Hughes, Head of UK and Europe at Indiegogo, debunks the five most common crowdfunding myths.

Myth #1: A good idea is enough to get you funded

Reality: Having an interesting idea is often just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to crowdfunding success. There are thousands of active campaigns for all sorts of gadgets and products across multiple crowdfunding platforms at any given moment.

To reach your goal, you need to develop a plan of action to spread the word about your campaign. Don’t restrict this just to your immediate network of friends and family. Make sure that everyone and anyone knows about it. There are tons of ways to spread the word including social media channels, direct emailing, LinkedIn networking events, and more. If you combine a few of these methods you’ll reach more people, so mix it up!

Myth #2: The work starts when the campaign starts

Reality: Crowdfunding requires hard work long before launch. You can’t just post a description of your project on the campaign page and expect backers to be willing to invest. You need to have all your ducks in a row before you launch.

We recommend beginning work on the campaign at least two months before your official launch date. This is the minimum amount of time needed to create a strong email list and build a community around your idea – two essential factors in your campaign’s success. Use this time to do your research, have a schedule, gather a strong team, define roles, and line up all your assets before your launch. If you prepare well in advance, you’ll be able to work in an efficient manner for the duration of your campaign.

Myth #3: It’s all about the money

Reality: A successful campaign isn’t about just reaching your funding goal. Crowdfunding offers more than just a boost in finances. It’s a great way to validate your idea and generate some buzz.

Crowdfunding is changing how entrepreneurs and innovators are bringing products to market. It is enabling thousands of innovators to generate brand awareness and facilitate a larger conversation with backers and potential customers, all while still in the product development process.

Myth #4: All crowdfunding platforms are the same 

Reality: There are a wide variety of platforms that you can choose from, so you need to understand the nuances between them in order to identify which one is best for your project. Choosing the right crowdfunding platform is important to the success of a crowdfunding campaign in converting people who view your campaign into backers.

Be sure you research what each platform offers, including fees, flexibility, customisation and support to help you run a successful campaign. Depending on your product, there may be some platforms that are more appropriate than others. Another factor to consider is the fundraising model each platform uses as there are several available, including rewards, equity, donation, hybrid, and lending.

Myth #5: A big social following is required to be successful

Reality: Social media is a great way to spread the word about your crowdfunding campaign, however, it’s not the only way.

The fundamental key for effective outreach is engagement. When planning your outreach strategy, keep your request as personalised as possible in order to increase the chance of a contribution. Email, for example, is often a more effective way of reaching contributors because it’s direct and personal. Avoid sending mass ‘BCC emails’ and instead send individually tailored messages. Whilst this might take more time, it’s likely to result in more contributions.

Regardless of your assumptions about starting a business, the most important thing to remember is that crowdfunding is much more than a months’ long campaign to reach a funding goal. It can also be used to raise awareness amongst consumers and for market validation. There are a plethora of factors to take into consideration before launching a campaign such as who’ll be part of your team, what incentives you’ll be offering your backers and how you’ll be building your database of contacts. Once you have your assets all lined up and you’re ready to go. It’s time to click the ‘launch’ button and dispel the crowdfunding myths once and for all.

 

Libero Development Fund: Absolute Excellence in Absolute Returns
FundsFunds of Funds

Libero Development Fund: Absolute Excellence in Absolute Returns

Libero Funds was developed through a combination of over 50 years’ experience in Alternative Assets Services, Funds and Financial Services and a deep frustration with poorly performing market correlated investment strategies. In 2012, Mary Murphy (Former Executive Managing Director of IFS) and Iain Cahill decided to create an investment strategy which is low risk with low volatility but generates strong returns in all market conditions.

This strategy became the Libero Development Fund, an absolute return offering with a pioneering strategy which Iain is keen to explain.

“Our Libero Development Fund strategy is truly unique in how it is structured and operates. It is designed to achieve consistently positive returns with low risk and low volatility. Based on the fund structure and key risk management policies, and agreed with the Auditors, the Fund only recognises income earned. By not recognising unrealised gains the monthly NAVs reflect actual income earned by the Fund.

“Overall we see our fund as having the potential to aid other funds who hold large cash balances and are concerned about deploying them in the current market environments. As we all know from the moment investor capital is raised, we have a duty of care to both protect their capital but also have it working. Libero can help to bridge that gap for other fund managers.”

All of Libero’s funds are offshore, non-US investor, funds that offer a flexible framework with several funds for experienced investors who include Family Offices, Fund of Funds and Sophisticated Investors who are seeking a real alternative investment to cash or bond equivalent low risk strategies while at the same time seeking strong capital growth or income. Iain explains how the firm supports clients and ensures that its investment products meet their individual needs.

Key to how Libero Funds work, is listening to investor requirements and working with experts in all aspects of the funds operation. The fees charged by hedge funds are still a focus for investors and that challenge is a fair one. However, ultimately the onus is on any Fund to first deliver a fair return to investors, and as such we aim to offer the best risk adjusted returns possible.

“As a growing fund our time is spent between fund raising and investment management. While our internal investment team make the day to day trading decisions, we maintain full oversight on the activities. As any investor in a hedge fund should expect, we took the time and effort to ensure that our service providers are best in class which allows us to spend a great deal of our time with both existing and prospective investors. With such a vast array of funds in the market, our ongoing challenge is to create the right investor attention through strong returns which are low risk and with low volatility.”

Owing to investor demand, Libero have recently launched a complementary second fund, the Libero Growth Fund which seeks to create an important offering for those looking for a more mezzanine type fund and is already garnering significant investor interest. As such the future looks bright for Libero Funds, and in his concluding comments Iain outlines the firm’s exciting future plans and how it aims to ensure that clients continue to receive the best possible returns and service across all of the firm’s funds.

“During 2017 at Libero Funds we intend to grow our Libero Development Fund strategy and deliver additional Fund strategies where we see opportunities driven by investor demand. For now, Our driving ambition is to see the Libero Development Fund become a true benchmark fund within the Absolute Returns sector.”

Company: Libero Development Fund
Name: Iain Cahill CIO and Mary Murphy COO
Email: [email protected], [email protected]
Web Address: www.liberofunds.com
Address: 33-37 Athol Street, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM1 1LB
Telephone: 0044 7496 057894

Malta's New NAIF Framework Addresses one of the Biggest Issue in Fund Management
FundsFunds of Funds

Malta’s New NAIF Framework Addresses one of the Biggest Issue in Fund Management, MPG says

Malta, together with Luxembourg, is one of the first two jurisdictions in Europe to adopt the new framework and the move is likely to expand its share of the alternative investment funds (AIF) market, marking yet another step in the country’s move to becoming a leading financial centre, Jeremy Leach says.

Under the NAIF framework, product providers are directly regulated rather than their products, so new funds can be launched without the need for pre-authorisation by the regulator. The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) will maintain an updated list of NAIFs in good standing on its website while the AIF manager assumes full responsibility for the NAIF.

Speaking ahead of the annual Finance Malta Conference on 25/26 May, Jeremy Leach commented: “Asset managers often complain that regulation is strangling them. European regulators are notoriously slow in getting authorization and it is the biggest frustration most financial groups have. Time to market is critical when you have competition and the delay with getting authorization through various authorities is commercially compromising.

“This move by Malta is a game changer. It sends out the message that the MFSA is amenable to speeding up the time taken to launch products and it will enhance its share of the European fund market. This new framework is easier, quicker and cheaper without any compromise to the regulatory framework.”

Jeremy Leach says Malta has a number of advantages that are supporting its emergence as one of the world’s most important financial jurisdictions. These include its membership of the European Union and the Commonwealth, its tax framework, both domestically and internationally with 65 tax treaties with other countries and the legislation it has put in place around securitsations means it is the only EU jurisdiction outside of Luxembourg that has the legislation in place to offer these flexible tools.

While some other EU financial centres might attempt to get into the securitisations market, it is far easier for smaller jurisdictions to establish the necessary laws and there are very few principalities that have the same passporting rights as Malta and Luxembourg, Jeremy Leach says.

Managing Partners Group intends to offer securitisations and alternative fund management services to the pan-European market and Malta’s Securitisation Act has been a key factor in its decision to locate there, as well as its other attributes.

Institutional Venture Partners Announces a $1.4 Billion Fund
FundsFunds of Funds

Institutional Venture Partners Announces a $1.4 Billion Fund


Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), a later-stage venture capital and growth equity firm, today announced IVP XV, a $1.4 billion fund. This is the largest fund raised in the firm’s 35-year history and brings cumulative committed capital to $5.4 billion. The fund was significantly oversubscribed, with IVP’s existing Limited Partners contributing the vast majority of the fund.

The fund’s General Partners are Todd Chaffee, Somesh Dash, Steve Harrick, Eric Liaw, Jules Maltz, Sandy Miller, and Dennis Phelps. After 26 years as a General Partner at IVP, Norm Fogelsong will serve the new fund as an Advisory Partner. Collectively, the Partners have more than 150 years of venture capital and operating experience.

“I have invested with the IVP team for over a decade now and they consistently deliver exceptional performance for us,” said Limited Partner Rick Hayes of Jasper Ridge Partners. “I continue to be impressed by the way this multi-generational team maintains their industry leadership position throughout investment cycles.”

IVP partners with talented entrepreneurs to finance rapidly growing technology and media companies that are addressing large market opportunities. Since its inception in 1980, IVP has invested in over 300 companies and 101 of those have gone public.

IVP has backed many well known consumer companies such as HomeAway, Kayak, LegalZoom, LifeLock, Netflix, Prosper, Shazam, Snapchat, SoundCloud, Supercell, The Honest Company, and Twitter. Successful enterprise investments include AppDynamics, ArcSight, ComScore, Datalogix, Domo, Dropbox, Fleetmatics, Marketo, MySQL, Omniture, OnDeck, Pure Storage, Slack, and Zenefits. With IVP XV, the firm will continue to invest in both the consumer and enterprise sectors throughout the United States.

“IVP has invested in both of my companies and I have personally invested in IVP’s two most recent funds,” said Josh James, CEO of Domo. “The IVP team is absolutely one of the best in the business. Their partners are smart, they ask great questions, and they have been incredibly helpful to us over the years. I consider them a trusted resource and a great partner.“

With the new fund, IVP plans to invest $10 to $100 million per company in 12 to 15 businesses each year. The firm believes that this highly selective approach is an essential driver of fund performance. Given its focused expertise in later-stage investing, IVP offers entrepreneurs many years of experience in helping companies recruit exceptional executives, scale operations, refine business strategies, and expand internationally.

More Needed on Minimum Wage to Tackle Low Pay
FundsFunds of Funds

More Needed on Minimum Wage to Tackle Low Pay, Says CWU

Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary, said: “An increase is always welcome, but this year of all years – when the economic recovery is continuing and there is a general election on the horizon – we expected the government to be bolder in sharing that success with low paid workers who have suffered most under this government.

“The minimum wage remains inadequate for the majority of families to live on, meaning the government is simply subsidising low-paying companies through in-work benefits to make up the shortfall.

“George Osborne has failed to meet his promise of a £7 minimum wage which he made over a year ago. Wages have stagnated for years under the coalition government. They have taken strong action on apprenticeships’ pay, but number 11 has missed its opportunity to put low pay for over a million workers right before the election.”

The government has announced that the minimum wage will rise in October by 20p an hour to £6.70 (3 per cent). The hourly rate for 18 to 20-year-olds will go up from £5.13 to £5.30 (3 per cent) and by 8p to £3.87 for 16 and 17-year-olds (a 2 per cent rise).

The statutory minimum for apprentices will increase by 57p to £3.30, an increase of 20 per cent.

Top Tips for Approaching Your Bank for Funding Your Business
FundsFunds of Funds

Top Tips for Approaching Your Bank for Funding Your Business

These top five tips have been produced by Paul Brooks, Santander’s Business Development Director for Wales. Santander is generously sponsoring the ICAEW event Latest Developments for Members in Business on Thursday, 23 April in Cardiff. The event is aimed at finance directors/controllers/managers of SMEs.

To maximise the support a bank can give you, there are a few simple tips to bear in mind:

• Plan ahead – give your bank a reasonable amount of time before the funding will be required to ensure everything will be ready in time for when you need the funding. Having a well thought out plan in advance of any meetings can also help make the process more efficient.

• Have the right statistics and up-to-date financials to hand – being able provide the correct financial information on past performance and realistic forecasts on potential future growth can help ease the process along.

• Give a clear rationale as to why the business needs the funding – let the bank see that you have done the right research and have the right insights into your market.

• Keep an open mind – when it comes to types of funding, there are many more options than just a loan or overdraft so it’s best to look at the full range before deciding what to go for. Be flexible and open to suggestions and alternatives.

• Finally, ensure that the agreed solutions match what your business needs, but also give some headroom for any additional slippage. Flexibility is key in business.

FundsFunds of Funds

UCITS Funds See Largest Quarterly Inflows in 8 Years

The industry body data shows that there was inward investment amounting to more than €152bn (£121bn) in the quarter. This is an increase from €138bn in Q1 for the year.

Conversely, money market funds returned back to the more normal net outflow rate, achieving a quarterly level of €22bn and reversing the €14bn net inflows which were seen in the first quarter of the year.

The return to net outflows saw UCITS, (Undertaking for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities), sales drop from €152bn in the first quarter to €130bn, but this is still high.

The EFAMA data also shows that combined, UCITS and non-UCITS assets saw an increase of 4.6% in the quarter. This amounted to a total of €10,617bn for the end of June.

Over the year, UCITS funds have a recorded net inflow total amounting to €283bn. This is a notable increase of €139bn from the results through the first half of last year. The biggest contributor to this total has been from bond funds, which have seen the largest net inflow, of €118bn.

Balanced funds and equity funds at €100bn and €51bn respectively round off the top three performers in the quarter.

UCITS Sales Increase Significantly in January
FundsFunds of Funds

UCITS Sales Increase Significantly in January

 

The European Fund and Asset Management Association (EFAMA) has today published its latest Investment Funds Industry Fact Sheet, which provides net sales of UCITS and non-UCITS for December 2013 and the entire year of 2013, as well as net assets data at the end of 2013.

26 associations representing more than 99.6 percent of total UCITS and non-UCITS assets at the end of January 2014 provided us with net sales and/or net assets data.

The main developments in January 2014 in the reporting countries can be summarised as follows:

• UCITS recorded a significant jump in net inflows in January to EUR 71 billion, up from EUR 14 billion recorded in December, reflecting increased net sales of long-term UCITS and a considerable surge in net inflows to money market funds.

• Net sales of long-term UCITS (UCITS excluding money market funds) increased to EUR 42 billion, up from EUR 27 billion in December.

o Net sales of bond funds rose to EUR 13 billion after breaking-even in December.

o On the other hand, equity funds registered reduced net inflows of EUR 11 billion down from EUR 15 billion in December.

o Balanced funds recorded a fifth month of increasing net sales of EUR 16 billion, up from EUR 13 billion in December.

• Money market funds registered net inflows of EUR 29 billion in January, being the highest level of net inflows since August 2011. This high level of net inflows follows net outflows in December of EUR 13 billion.

• Total non-UCITS recorded net sales of EUR 13 billion, down from EUR 15 billion witnessed in December.

o Special funds (funds reserved to institutional investors) recorded reduced net inflows amounting to EUR 9 billion, compared to EUR 15 billion in December.

• Total assets of UCITS stood at EUR 6,974 billion at end January 2014, representing a 0.6 percent increase during the month.

o Total assets of non-UCITS also enjoyed an increase of 0.6 percent in January to stand at EUR 2,823 billion at month end.

Bernard Delbecque, Director of Economics and Research commented:

“UCITS recorded in January 2014 the highest monthly net sales since the onset of the global financial crisis, and this in an environment characterized by falling long-term interest rates, continued low global inflation and rising stock market uncertainty reflecting tensions in several emerging markets.”

Guernsey adds 33 new funds in Q3 2013