Blipfoto secures new funding for international growth

Blipfoto has secured a substantial new round of investment, which will allow the Edinburgh-based photo-sharing platform to focus further on international growth.

The funding round was led by Steven Morris of the ESM Investments syndicate and includes Gareth Williams, co-founder and CEO of fellow Edinburgh-based online firm Skyscanner. Blipfoto has also attracted new private investment from North America, while additional funding has been added by previous investors, technology entrepreneur Ian Ritchie, former MIT managing director Ken Morse and the Scottish Investment Bank. The new funds take the total investment in Blipfoto up to almost £700,000 (approx $1,120,000 ) and will be used by the company to build a scalable customer acquisition model and fuel growth. Speaking of the investment, Blipfoto founder and CEO, Joe Tree said: “This is a massive step forward for the company, and provides the funding to build quickly on our established worldwide audience. Our new investors bring renewed strength and the experience of building big consumer brands online, so I’m really excited about this next phase of growth. 2013 is going to be a huge year for Blipfoto.”

Blipfoto, which allows its users to share just one photo a day on their online photo journal, already has tens of thousands of users globally, with around 17m monthly page views. The platform is home to almost 2.5 million images – each representing a single day in someone’s life. Blipfoto’s growth is set to be fuelled further by the release of a major new iPhone App. The new app – which is just the first in an armoury of releases – will look to build on the strong community aspects of Blipfoto’s existing online presence. Blipfoto, which counts Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak among its high profile users, has also worked with a host of international brands on partnerships and projects, including Calumet Photographic, Channel 4, the Scottish Government and the Edinburgh Festivals.

Gareth Williams said: “Blipfoto is a great concept, excellently executed, that creates a wonderful mode of personal expression that builds over time.” Ian Ritchie added: “I was delighted to invest in Blipfoto, a superb Scottish company with a genuine global scope. This is the site for people around the world who care deeply about the quality of the photographs that they take, and who want to share them with others who feel the same.” ESM Investments’ Steven Morris said: “Nearly 1 minute in every 5 minutes spent online is now spent on social networking sites, whereas this category accounted for only 6% of time spent online in March 2007. The Blipfoto platform maps to this growth trend by delivering a clearly differentiated product that adds real value across many demographics and cultures.”

Notes:
• Blipfoto.com is the online daily photo journal. What started in Edinburgh now has tens of thousands of contributors in 172 countries worldwide. With 17 million monthly views, Blipfoto is a hugely engaged online community – and it is already home to almost 2.5m images. Blipfoto won a Scottish BAFTA award and has collaborated with a number of big organisations, and governments.

PressureFab Group invests circa £1m in Dundee

PressureFab Group, a supplier of transport and development equipment for the offshore oil and gas industry, will invest £935k to upgrade its Scottish facility, which will create 25 jobs over the next two years.

The upgrade will enable PressureFab Group to take advantage of future demands from the oil and gas industry, as well as the emerging renewable energy sector. In support of this investment, the company has been awarded a £250k Regional Selective Assistance grant from Scottish Enterprise; this grant was successfully identified, applied for and its application project managed by DC Consulting

Hermann Twickler, managing director of PressureFab Group, said: “This investment package is urgently required to sustain further growth for the group and to enable us to compete on the world market, as well as within the Scottish offshore sector. PressureFab Group is also now ready to handle any new challenges and opportunities that the developing renewable industry may bring. Part of the investment will be used to purchase heavy duty CNC plate forming and rolling machinery, as well as industrial coating and shotblasting facilities. These additions will enable PressureFab Group to improve productivity with an aim to double capacity and production output.£

Since it moved into its Scottish facility two years ago, the firm has created nearly 40 new jobs in Dundee. Mr Twickler added: “We are currently recruiting for several positions, including at least ten welders, and hope to increase our staff numbers by more than fifty per cent over the next two years.”

Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing said: “Scotland’s oil and gas sector leads the world, and makes an immense contribution to our economy, thanks to our expertise and innovation. With more than half of the value of the North Sea’s oil and gas reserves yet to be extracted, oil and gas will remain an enormous economic resource for decades to come.

“The Scottish Government’s oil and gas strategy promises increases in public sector support to companies with significant growth prospects.”

Acquisition of Oil & Gas Business for £5m

Aberdeen-based oil and gas services company Screw Conveyor has been bought by a private equity firm, Azure Investments.

Azure Investments paid £5m for the business, which specialises in designing and supplying conveyors that move waste materials away from drilling sites.

Azure chairman John Stodart said the business was highly profitable and well-positioned to expand abroad. He said: “We have very ambitious growth targets for the business which we are confident we can achieve given the existing strength of the order book and the pipeline of opportunities in overseas markets. “We have very good relationships with the rig operators in Russia and a strong presence in Kurdistan and Iraq, as well as Saudi Arabia and Dubai. Our plan to have fabrication plants in both Dubai and Singapore will help consolidate on our success to date.”

DC Consulting acted as lead adviser and deal initiator to Azure Investments.

Succession Planning Exercise

DC Consulting has recently completed a confidential transaction to enable a client to realise significant value over a controlled period of time, which will assist in succession planning over the medium term – transaction value of £2m.

May 2012

Innovation Grant Secured of £1m

On behalf of one of its clients, DC Consulting has recently secured £1m of innovation grants in order to assist with funding its strategic growth plans. This grant will provide an integral part of the company’s funding as it embarks on the next evolution of its technology development and commercialisation.

May 2012.

£500,000 Funding Boost for Albagaia

Albagaia will use some of the £500,000 of new funding for an export drive for its testing kits. This funding was split between equity and grant funding; half of the equity investment came from Equity Gap angel group and half from Scottish Enterprise’s (SE) Scottish Investment Bank, with this funding unlocking a further £250,000 in research grants.

The company’s test can detect the Legionella bacteria in 25 minutes compared with up to two weeks in a traditional lab. Legionnaires’ is a bacterial disease that causes a lung infection or pneumonia and is transmitted by contaminated water, especially from heating or water supply systems. The Linlithgow-based firm also plans to develop its water treatment systems and has developed smartphone software which speeds up the process of reading test results.

Albagaia chief executive Graham Tyrie said: “This demonstration of faith in Albagaia’s future prospects allows us to fund both water treatment and our innovative smartphone reader software which reads test results independently and transmits them to a central database.”

Equity Gap chairman Jock Millican said: “Albagaia is an excellent investment with the three strands of the business at different stages of development.”

www.albagaia.com

May 2012

Investment Secured for Rail Engineering Business

DC Consulting has successfully assisted a specialist rail engineering business to position itself and then secure investment to commercialise its technology.

This assignment involved a detailed strategic planning exercise, coupled with a number of market scenarios, in order to determine the most appropriate route forward, culminating in securing investment.

DC Consulting also assisted with EIS advance clearance and positioning from a tax perspective.

April 12

Sonis Europe Completes Funding Round

March 2012 = Sonis Europe has developed a new home alarm system which houses a single sensor in the control keypad.

Sonis Europe, led by Bill Marr, has now completed its equity fundraising by securing equity from Discovery Investment Fund. Sonis was introduced to Discovery Investment Fund and to two other angel syndicates by DC Consulting, although the two other syndicates who expressed interest in investment withdrew once it was clear Discovery Investment Fund had quickly reached Heads of Terms with Sonis.

The alarm system, which has been in development for some time uses sound recognition to determine whether a door or window has been opened. The business was started by Bill Marr after leaving Marconi. He had plenty of experience of the systems currently in use, which use an array of contact sensors and infra-red beams, but felt that the increasing sophistication of such systems led to unnecessary complexity, the end result of which was that systems are not appropriately utilised, or are occasionally not used at all. He felt that sound recognition was the answer to simplifying an alarm system, as it enabled a single sensor to replace the range of different sensor types in conventional systems; doors and windows make much the same noise when being opened, so he began by capturing the sound signature common to them all.

Sonis Europe now has a production model of the alarm system ready and will next be completing the tooling for the device, ready for a market launch in June 2012. The company plans to market directly to DIY chains in the UK, to electrical retailers and installers and to traditional installation forms. The system will be available for purchase online with video footage of its capability already commissioned.

Further information is available at http://soniseurope.com

Refinancing Completed

DC Consulting recently completed the refinancing of a Small Trading Group, which involved the identification of the most appropriate funding mix, marrying this with the available funders in the market and project managing the entire process through to drawdown.

March 2012