Urban-style food deliveries in the French Alps, indulgent chocolate treats, a customer service chatbot, recycled sustainable products and well- being solutions for communities

Dorset Business Angels hosted over 30 attendees at their recent pitch event evening which took place in Bournemouth. Enthusiasm and inspiration were demonstrated in abundance by the companies pitching.

Food ‘with attitude’ in ‘urban-style delivery in the Alps’!

A Ski catering convenience food business took to the floor in a bid to capture the attention of the investors. Their proud claim being that they bring ‘food with attitude’ to the French ski slopes and are the Deliveroo for the mountains! Comprising 4 proven business leaders from a variety of sectors, the Angels learnt of the company’s 2- year journey to date, which has seen them become number 1 catering partner to the UK Ski industry. They presented themselves as a business with zero debt, 100% founder owned, with an impressive tech and operating model and with gross margins of 40 – 60%. The business set out in 2016 to revolutionise the ski holiday eating experience by supplying top quality cuisine, both to ski operators and the self-catering skiing community in the French Alps. They advised that France was chosen for its launch as it has the biggest ski market in the world, with its food and drink market being worth £387 million and 11 % of its visitors being from the UK. A pitch was made for an investment of £500,000 and the entrepreneurs gave themselves a pre-money valuation of £2.5m. The founders explained that the investment would allow them to expand rapidly, with a very strong order book validating this expansion. Their current average value of an order is growing year on year and is currently 240 Euros. The business has forged some excellent relationships with some high- quality catering suppliers such as COOK, Charlie Bigham’s and Gourmade. Expressions of interest were made to further investigate this investor opportunity.

‘Indulgent chocolate treats and an impressive global client list’

A confectionary company which creates a range of ‘impulse and indulgent’ chocolate products suited to the refined adult palate, immediately grabbed the audience’s attention by making the smart move to bring along chocolate samples! They detailed their ultra- impressive client listing, including Ocado, BP service stations and a M &S franchise. They also provide mini versions of their bars for Virgin Atlantic and Delta Airlines and provide almost all the confectionary for the Houses of Parliament and the National Science Museum. Distributed throughout the UK by wholesalers they have around 400 independent retailers, farm shops and delicatessens. Exports partners around the world include locations in the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, Ireland and Belgium. Seeking to raise £900,000 with a pre-money valuation on the company of £2.7million, investors were advised that the funding would be used to enable them to secure a factory in Wales and equip it with plant and machinery to allow the business to deliver on its bulging order book. Interest was shown from Angels.

Artificial intelligence provides customer service chatbot

A young and innovative Bournemouth based company, which is still in the early stages of its products development and growth, were invited to show their progress to date, with a view to being invited back in to the Angels ‘den’ in the Spring of 2019 to report on further progress. The inventive team have developed Artificial Intelligence (A.I) for the restaurant business which allows users to have their online questions swiftly handled by an automated customer service chatbot. The founders share many years of experience in the IT and hospitality industries. They identified that restaurants are generally being inefficient in their staff handling of customer calls, phone calls are missed and thus missed business, there is the potential for bad reviews if phones are not manned and booking reminders don’t happen which can potentially lead to loss of revenue from no shows. The new A.I allows customers 24/7/365 access to restaurant information, responses are immediate and can provide supplementary information such as disabled access, dietary requirements, opening times, menus and the ability to make a booking at any time. The business model stated that the software is sold as a service at £30 per month per venue, no administration fees, instant setup and a reseller scheme available. The Angels learnt how it is anticipated that 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human by 2020 and that 51% of customers expect and want businesses to be contactable 24/7. Investors were impressed by the presentation and insisted that the founders return at the end of quarter 1 in 2019 to update on restaurant sign ups and present the financial plans for the business.

Recycled sustainable products

A company offering brand owners, retailers and packaging manufacturers a solution to the problems created by plastic waste, passed around examples of their paper-based containers amongst the audience. It is developing a process to manufacture green, mono-material packing containers using moulder fibre, treated with bio-degradable coatings and is backed by a strong IP. Significant developments have taken place since the first production scale prototype was made with the help of an EU grant in 2014. Their ambition is to target market entry in 2019/20 in dry good applications. The functional containers have been designed for easy recycling and rapid, safe decomposition. They are moulded to shape for brand identity, are durable, environmentally sustainable and are very cost competitive. The team currently have 2 manufacturing patents applied for and they are developing a 3rd generation demonstration production machine. A significant achievement to date was acknowledged as a £1m development programme with Britvic to demonstrate proof of concept for a soft- drinks application. The funding requested by the business was £0.5m, with a pre- money valuation of £3m. The funds will allow further production of a wider range of product samples, enabling them to complete the development of the version 3 production machine, put in place a marketing resource and expand engineering capability and facilities. Whilst investors found this interesting it was felt that it was too early to invest in.

Wellbeing solutions for communities

A company which aims to make physical activity a way of life through expertly delivered, measurable campaigns, with long-term community benefits were the final presentation of the evening. Their business combines technology with behaviour change to build more active communities and hence reduce costs to local and national government and transform lives. They emphasised the importance of being active and the direct impact this has on a person’s health and well-being. Inactivity is something of an international health crisis with 77% of disease in Europe being due to lifestyle. The audience learnt that 38% of adults in England aren’t meeting recommended activity guidelines and 80% of children in England don’t get the recommended 60 minutes of activity a day. The programme development includes a game called ‘Beat the Street’ which turns a town into a game, which they claim can engage up to 38% of the population. Since 2012 ‘Beat the Street’ has had some 950,000 participants, of whom half of these have taken part in the last 2 years. The team has worked with a large and growing number of clients, including Sport England, Sport Ireland, Tesco, Public Health England, Active Essex, Hampshire County Council, Dorset county council, Decathlon and more. Investment required is £250,000, with a pre-money valuation of £3.3m. The funding would be used to develop an IT platform to enhance the customer experience, increase user engagement and provide improved gamification. Interest was shown from one of the local DBA partner investment networks that attended.

The evening also included a presentation by one of the DBA sponsors, Saffery Champness Chartered Accountants. Saffery Corporate Advisory Director Mark Kilbey and Tax Director Ian Harlock-Smith discussed the benefits of investing through the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and some of the pitfalls and challenges that they have experienced in relation to investors and businesses.

The presentation slides from Saffery Champness are available to view here.

Don added;

“We hosted our very first networking session which took place before the pitches and we were delighted to welcome along several new potential investors. There were lots of interesting discussions taking place and new connections being made. We are always keen to welcome new investors and would urge anyone interested in joining us at our next event in February to register on the web site. We’d be very happy to see you there and would like to point out that there is no obligation, if attending, to make an investment! I’d like to offer thanks to our sponsors, Saffery Champness Accountants, Laceys Solicitors and Investec Wealth and Investment.”

 

DBA was formed in 2013 with the aim to bring investors and entrepreneurs together to accelerate the growth of early stage businesses. DBA provides quality, private equity investment opportunities to local high net worth (HNW) and sophisticated investors (SI).

Four times a year companies are invited to attend an event at which they pitch their business to the savvy Angels in a Dragon’s Den type scenario. Angel investment might come from a single investor or it could be 2 or 3 Angels pooling funds together to support a company. Any investments are in the form of an equity investment and not a debtor’s loan. Investments are made across all sectors.

To book a place at the next DBA Pitch Event visit our Eventbrite page.

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