Q4 2023 Featuring:
Editor’s letter. Welcome to the Q4 issue of The Business Concept. The Business Concept is dedicated to providing you with the latest, most intricate visions from across the business landscape. Globally, there is an endless amount of support for business development – and The Business Concept is here to showcase the solutions being provided around the world. As 2023 nears its end, we are naturally drawn towards slowing down a bit and taking the opportunity to reflect, to recharge, and to refresh. For businesses, this time of year is all about celebrating their accomplishments, while also recognising where they can improve. They can take the time to identify new ways to keep the best interests of their teams and customers at the forefront. Crucial in this is ensuring the wellbeing of staff members, with it being important to maintain a safe, comfortable working environment, recognise and reward success, ensure they have a voice, provide new opportunities, and ensure flexibility and a healthy work-life balance for all. Investing in these elements ensures happy people, and in turn, happy clients. As such, it is important for individuals to take the festive period as an opportunity to completely switch off, rest, and spend time with loved ones – so they can return to work in the new year feeling content and rejuvenated. The Business Concept team hopes you find this issue to be insightful, and we wish you a wonderful festive period and the most prosperous quarter ahead. In the meantime, we look forward to welcoming you back again soon for our Q1 2024 issue. Rebecca Scotland - Editor
Contents 4. News - Throgmorton Capital Management set to expand its client base with support from Shawbrook - AA extends its support for next generation of van drivers 6. Elex Products Ltd: Best Industrial & Domestic Cleaning Product Manufacturer 2023 - Kenya 7. WDS Components Ltd: Best European Standard Parts & Machine Accessories Manufacturer & Supplier 2023 - UK 8. Automotive Transformation Group and Auto Trader take partnership to new heights with real-time data sharing integration 10. UK companies struggle to meet increasing demands for transparency 12. Fellten Collaborates with Morgan Motor Company to produce battery for XP-1, a new experimental prototype electric Morgan 13. Bed bug detection tech company Spotta secures £3m funding to supercharge its growth 14. UK’s budding entrepreneurs stifled by cost of living crisis
News. 4 Throgmorton Capital Management set to expand its client base with support from Shawbrook Manchester-based financial advisers, Throgmorton Capital Management, is set to expand by acquiring client books from Roger Baron IFA Ltd and Jean Pritchett in deals backed by Shawbrook. Incorporated in 2018, Throgmorton provides financial planning and discretionary investment management services to clients across the UK. Throgmorton sought to re-finance existing debt alongside acquiring additional headroom to facilitate the purchase of client books from Roger Baron IFA Ltd and Jean Pritchett. The full terms of the deal include a day-one credit facility with further loans which will be drawn down in 2024 and 2025. Shawbrook was directly approached by Throgmorton who recognised the bank’s track record of successfully supporting IFAs in the past. Shawbrook’s ability to deliver a flexible solution which provided funding for both organic growth and growth through acquisition was also cited as a key reason why the lender was chosen as a funding partner. Alasdair McWilliams, founder and director at Throgmorton Capital Management, said: “We are delighted to now be working with Shawbrook as we move the company into this next phase of its growth journey. Throgmorton provides its clients with highquality financial planning and investment management services and over the last few years we have established the firm as an acquirer of choice for retiring advisers in the region. Our ability to offer sellers a stable longterm home for their clients and comfort that their clients will continue to receive the same personalised service from Throgmorton that they have invariably received from the retiring adviser is compelling. These latest acquisitions and the relationship with Shawbrook mark another significant milestone for the company. The deal Shawbrook put together for us provides the flexibility we need to continue our journey and we look forward to continuing our relationship going forward.” Nathan Burn, new business analyst at Shawbrook, said: “Throgmorton is a successful business with an experienced leadership team and a strong company culture, it was a pleasure to work with Alasdair and Brendan on this deal. The team at Shawbrook has every confidence that this additional funding will help them grow and expand the business, taking it to new highs with the acquisition of new client books.” Gunnercooke provided legal counsel for Shawbrook and Weightmans acted for Throgmorton. DTE Business Advisers Ltd conducted the financial due diligence on the deal.
5 News. Drivetech, part of the AA, has launched a new Van Driver Awareness course to help businesses give the right support to new van drivers, boost employee confidence and safety on the road. The driver training specialist has designed the course to support organisations and their new recruits in response to growing demand for the next generation of talent to enter the logistics sector. Logistics makes up around 8.2% of total UK employment (Logistics UK). There is a continued rise in new talent joining the sector and getting behind the wheel of a van for the first time. In light of this, Drivetech is urging businesses to put safety first and not overlook driver training as part of the employee induction process. The Van Driver Awareness course has been created by the experts at Drivetech to fast track the process of getting new van drivers used to the experience of driving a larger vehicle and the practical elements of the vehicles themselves. It will leave drivers more knowledgeable, better equipped to handle larger vehicles and, ultimately, safer on the roads. The course runs over two days, combining on-road and workshop training. It’s perfect for onboarding apprentices as the logistics industry looks to increase its appeal to new entrants. The new course is part of the AA’s wider commitment to supporting new talent. The organisation offers an award-winning apprenticeships scheme, with over 135 apprentices on board. Just last year, the AA launched its first Recovery Operative Apprenticeship programme to help build a pipeline of HGV drivers for the future. As well as a partnership with the 10,000 Interns Foundation, the AA also supports Generation Logistics, an industry led skills awareness campaign jointly managed by CILT (UK) and Logistics UK. Nick Butler, director of Drivetech, said: “Transitioning from a car to a van requires AA extends its support for next generation of van drivers a mindset shift, increased caution, and an adaptability to handle the unique characteristics of a larger vehicle. It’s vital that organisations don’t overlook this when it comes to onboarding new recruits and provide the training and support they need to get behind the wheel of a van safely and confidently. Drivetech’s new Van Driver Awareness course has been designed to fast track the process and give businesses and drivers the support they need. I’m proud that at the AA supporting the next generation of talent is front of mind, not only for our own organisation but across industry.” Drivetech offers a range of training initiatives to suit all businesses, including driver audits and support with ongoing driver monitoring and assessments to manage on road work related risk. Nigel - stock.adobe.com
DIY Metal Fabrication Solutions Company of the Year 2023 Kwiktech Pty Ltd has created a versatile and rated connection to join and brace hollow metal tube which is readily available from the customers local metal or hardware suppliers, with the most common sizing being 25 x 38 (1” x 1.5”) RHS and 50x50 (2” x 2”) SHS aluminium or duragalv steel. This product was created as a direct result of industry demand, whereby customers were constantly calling for efficient and user-friendly metal fabrication solutions suitable for all DIY needs. Kwiktech has a history of successfully navigating these demands, introducing such revolutionary products as the Easy Frame DIY system, which has empowered enthusiasts and professionals alike to achieve the dimensions required for their build with ease. Across the industry, there is further demand for accessible and versatile products and solutions. This system challenges the common difficulties that may arise from balancing ease of use with the necessary structural integrity to create viable and robust solutions for various projects. Kwiktech utilises readily available metal tubing from established metal suppliers, which enables it to act as a cost-effective solution for its customers. Kwiktech is always looking to the future by keeping a keen eye out for what’s next and envisions more innovative and strategic partnerships as it continues to meet the evolving demands of the industry. Behind this product is a vibrant internal culture, one which is centred around a true passion for innovation, teamwork, and an unbridled commitment to excellence. Kwiktech encourages an environment to create champions in creativity and seeks continuous improvement in order to offer 100% customer satisfaction. Looking ahead to 2024, the business is poised to nurture further growth and expand across the market, it aims to introduce new and diverse designs that will successfully cater to the diverse needs of the metal fabrication market. Recently, Kwiktech has been recognised as an official Independent Hardware Group vendor, which serves to reflect the drive to become a trusted name and a beacon for DIY building quality across the sector. This partnership marks a considerable milestone for the business, and the team look forward to similar successes down the road. Quintessentially, through a groundbreaking solution that more than transcends traditional methods in the field of metal fabrication, Kwiktech Pty Ltd has carved out a name for itself, and today stands rmly at the forefront of the industry, always striving for, and delivering Australian-designed Kwiktech is a revolutionary framing system which builds perfectly square and accurately every time, using just a tape measure and standard power tools. Used by both novice DIYer’s and tradespeople alike, the secret to the Kwiktech’s success is the combination of both joining and bracing, along with techniques that serve to effortlessly reinforce the product. Existing at the forefront of the metal fabrication solutions industry, Kwiktech Pty Ltd possesses an unbridled commitment to innovation, quality, and customer satisfaction in equal measure, allowing it to constantly reaffirm its position as a leading organisation that provides solutions for its clients that are at the cutting edge of what is possible, enabling them to curate metal construction projects that are finished to the highest standard. innovation, quality, and customer satisfaction. With these factors to boot, it is clear to see why the company has received this award, celebrating its distinction for metal fabrication solutions, by creating a product suited to novice DIYer’s through to experienced builders. We wish Kwiktech and the team the best of luck for the future and are excited to see the revolutionary ways they continue to pioneer across the sector. Contact: Nick Schutz Company: Kwiktech Pty Ltd Web Address: https://kwiktech.com.au/ Nov23486
76. Best European Standard Parts & Machine Accessories Manufacturer & Supplier 2023 - UK With a long history, WDS Components Ltd (WDS) prides itself on over 70 years in the manufacture and supply of essential everyday components. We find out more from Mark Moody as it gains recognition in the Industrial Production and Manufacturing Awards 2023. “Combined with great value it means we have what the customer wants when they want it, and at a great price,” enthuses Mark. “Whether our customer needs thousands or just one we have it on the shelf when they need it. If we don’t have it, we would love to hear from our customers so that we can adjust our stocks to accommodate their requirements.” WDS constantly evaluates the scheme to ensure that it is listening to its customer’s demands and requirements. By fully engaging with, and understanding customer requirements, the company is able to adjust its stocks quickly and effectively. Customers are at the heart of everything WDS does and everything it supplies and, from speaking to Mark, this is clear from the offset. The firm’s core focus principles have been developed and introduced following the difficult business trading period directly after the Covid-19 pandemic, and they take into account the latest issues faced globally, including supply chain issues, Brexit, the ongoing war in Ukraine, and the cost-of-living crisis, all of which have played a significant part in complicating normal business. To counteract these challenges, WDS strives to ensure that all of its colleagues embrace its strong customer-centric values. “In order to meet our customers’ expectations, we have a ‘right first time’ approach,” Mark states. “We achieve this by engaging with them clearly and accurately at every opportunity, with skilled and knowledgeable colleagues.” The WDS website is also designed to provide as much information as possible, with a simple user and purchase experience for customers, with trade account holders being able to login online and see their orders, check their order status, account information, and manage their own teams and web order authorities. “We aim to deliver quality at every stage of our customer journey, from initial contact with the website or the sales team, right through to our invoices being correct and the goods arriving at the right time and place.” To this end, WDS was recently celebrated for its dedication and commitment to its loyal customer base and rewarded with the title of Best European Standard Parts & Machine Accessories Manufacturer & Supplier 2023 – UK. Regarding the future, WDS Components Ltd has big plans for further growth and aims to become the UK’s market leading outlet for components, standard parts, and machine accessories, as well as to be recognised online as a global leader in the marketplace, by both customers and other suppliers. Following recent investment in machines, website development, and warehouse software, it seems that the next few years are looking very rosy indeed! Contact: Mark Moody Company: WDS Components Ltd Web Address: www.wdscomponents.com Established in 1952 under the name Woodside Die Sinking Co. Ltd, WDS Components is a leading European manufacturer and global supplier of standard parts, machine accessories, and work holding components. The firm caters to many sectors, including, but not limited to, aerospace, automation, chandler and marine enclosures, food and beverage, health and fitness, logistics, energy and power, pharmaceutical and medical, entertainment, sports, and DIY. In fact, WDS’s customer base includes some of the world’s most famous engineering companies and its components can be found in planes, trains, boats, automobiles, workshops, and everything else. The WDS range of products is characterised by high quality, superior performance, unrivalled choice, and excellent value for money. The firm is innovative and regularly reviews the market, evaluates its product offering, and enhances its range to meet current and future customer requirements. Whilst the firm has changed ownership several times over the decades, it remains privately owned. Employing almost 50 people in many roles, the company occupies one head office unit in Pudsey, Leeds, which is also home to its manufacturing and warehouse facility. “We provide a one-stop shop and single point of contact for all our customers, no matter where they are based in the world,” explains Sales and Marketing Director, Mark Moody. “Our sales team are friendly and always available to discuss our customers’ needs.” The company has moved with the times in the 71 years since its initial inception, and it now regularly engages and communicates with customers via social media, such as Facebook and WhatsApp, as well as utilising video calls, email, webchat, and other digital platforms. “Technology has made the business more digital, with growing numbers of customers now trading digitally,” Mark elaborates. “We’ve also gone from line drawings to us being leaders in CAD and its use in the market. In fact, WDS was one of the early users of CAD and CAD tech. Machines, technology, and automation have made us more efficient over the years.” The current market, whilst relatively buoyant, is not without its challenges and Mark tells us that the main issues are around availability. To this end, WDS has introduced a stock guarantee that continues to grow to give confidence in supply to its customers. Stocking more than three million items, with 50,000 sku codes, the number of products in the guarantee keeps on growing. May23211
Automotive Transformation Group and Auto Trader take partnership to new heights with real-time data sharing integration • Automotive Transformation Group launch Auto Trader Connect integration to full NetDirector® SalesMaster client base. • Circa 2,000 retailers will have access to market-leading taxonomy and valuations data, and benefit from real-time connectivity, boosting efficiency, margin and consumer satisfaction. • Vindis Group says the integration has ‘immediately improved [their] efficiency’ and ‘empowers [them] to make quicker, more informed decisions regarding stock profiling, procurement, and pricing.’ At a time when accuracy and efficiency are more important than ever to safeguard margins, Automotive Transformation Group (ATG) have integrated Auto Trader’s suite of API solutions, Auto Trader Connect, into its ecosystem. The partnership will enable thousands of its retailer customers to benefit from real-time data connectivity, helping them to increase efficiencies, maximise vehicle margin, and dramatically improve the consumer online experience. As part of the partnership, which was announced in October last year, ATG customers will now have full access to two key elements of Auto Trader Connect: both its Valuations, and Retail Essentials modules, with the next phase of the integration (including the newly announced Trended Valuations and enhanced Retail Check functionality modules) set to follow. These modules are available as part of Auto Trader packages as standard, but with the technical development now complete, thousands of UK retailer rooftops (which includes 82% of the top 200 locations) will also have seamless access to Auto Trader’s market-leading taxonomy and valuations data directly within ATG’s NetDirector® SalesMaster inventory management system. The Auto Trader Connect - Valuations module features components designed to inform retailers’ sourcing and pricing strategies with the most accurate and current view of the market. This in turn will enable them to buy and price with confidence without the need to reference multiple systems. Such is the accuracy and value of Auto Trader’s Valuations data in informing vital retailing decisions, it was requested over 20 million times in September alone. Additional VIN Specification data (optional specification items added to each vehicle as they were built in the factory) will add to margin potential by using precise valuations adjusted for the exact specification of each car. As well as driving further efficiencies by including optional specification details to listings automatically, it will improve the consumer experience by providing a more accurate and detailed advert, reducing the potential for customer complaints, negative reviews or even returned vehicles due to inaccurate descriptions. Consistency and accuracy maximising margin potential Combining Auto Trader’s data with the real-time capability of the Auto Trader Connect - Retail Essentials module, ATG’s customers can instantly update and manage multiple back-end and consumer-facing systems, ensuring consistency and accuracy with minimal effort. This includes publishing vehicles onto Auto Trader directly from the NetDirector® SalesMaster platform, amending copy, removing stock once sold, or immediately responding to changes in today’s fast-paced retail market with price changes, helping to further maximise margin potential. Prior to full integration, Automotive Transformation Group ran a comprehensive pilot with Vindis Group. Commenting on the success of the early adoption, Peter Toop, Director of Business Transformation at Vindis, said: “When Automotive Transformation Group and Auto Trader announced their partnership, we eagerly embraced the opportunity to become the first of many to experience its positive impact. This integration immediately improved our efficiency by reducing redundant tasks and allowing us to optimise our Auto Trader advertising slots with real-time updates. From a profitability standpoint, having a comprehensive view of valuations, performance metrics, inventory data, and costs all within the NetDirector® SalesMaster platform, empowers us to make quicker, more informed decisions regarding stock profiling, procurement, and pricing.” The benefits of real-time connectivity won’t be limited to just retailers. With the partnership enabling new car stock management as well as used, Automotive Transformation Group’s manufacturing partners, of which they serve 60% of the world’s most renowned OEMs, will also have the opportunity to utilise the Auto Trader Connect integration to manage stock on Auto Trader without having to leave the NetDirector® SalesMaster inventory system. Commenting on the completion of the integration, Automotive Transformation Group’s Simon Upton, Chief Operating Officer, said: “With salespeople spending so much of their time logging into system after system just to rekey the same information, the importance of effective automation cannot be overstated. By synchronising our Fusion suite with that of key players like Auto Trader, we can drive efficiencies for Retailers and OEMs alike, ensuring better usage of their resources and a better consumer experience. We take great pride in enabling customers to make more informed decisions during the most critical moments of their operation to maximise profitability. Auto Trader Chief Product Director, Karolina Edwards-Smajda, added: “The market is experiencing forces of change, which are not only causing uncertainty among retailers, but making it increasingly difficult to navigate. We know that businesses that are already utilising the real-time connectivity of Auto Trader Connect are driving better margins, greater efficiencies and an improved consumer experience. Combined with our vehicle taxonomy and valuations data, they’re able to respond instantly and effectively to changes in the market with the most accurate real-time valuations data available. More than 9,300 retailers are already benefitting from services powered by Auto Trader Connect, which is included as standard in all our packages. With the first phase of its integration into Automotive Transformation Group’s systems now complete, their customers will have the same capabilities and insights at their fingertips, and can look forward to achieving the same results.”
9 Automotive Transformation Group and Auto Trader take partnership to new heights with real-time data sharing integration
• UK’s top companies are failing to meet stakeholder demands for transparency on their corporate websites. • A recent survey of the top 200 UK companies reveals a significant need for businesses to better communicate to key audiences, which include jobseekers, investors, analysts and journalists. • Launched in 1997, Webranking, by leading agency, Comprend, is the only survey that ranks corporate websites for the top 200 UK and top 500 companies in Europe, based on stakeholder expectations. • This year, BP topped the list of UK companies, scoring highest overall for their sustainability, careers, investor and press and media content. The UK’s top companies are failing to meet increased stakeholder demands for online transparency by failing to include sought-after and essential information on their websites. New research by leading partner for tech-enabled communications and marketing, Comprend, which ranks the UK’s top 200 companies through their corporate websites, found UK companies do not have key information desired by including investors, analyst and job seekers. This includes investment proposition as well as sustainability and diversity information. The Webranking survey chimes with recent research found that the expectations of companies are at an all-time high among consumers, and that 53% of consumers aged 27-58 assume a brand is doing nothing, or hiding something if it does not communicate its actions to address societal issues.* Similar research found that global executives, on average, attribute 63% of their company’s market value to their company’s overall reputation, highlighting the importance of businesses being seen as a trustworthy source of information. ** Staffan Lindgren, Senior Advisor, Comprend, said: “A corporate website plays an important role as a trustworthy communication channel in today’s environment, where businesses are expected to be reliable and transparent. It is clear that for businesses to maintain and enhance the trust placed in them by society, they need to address the shortcomings in digital communication.” Now in its 27th year, Comprend’s Webranking survey is the largest survey of corporate websites and the only annual survey based on stakeholder expectations. It asks investors, journalists and jobseekers about their expectations when it comes to a company’s corporate website. The UK companies are measured against a set of criteria, based on these stakeholder expectations and then given an overall score. This year, the survey found that top UK companies performed particularly poorly when it came to investor relations, fulfilling on average only 26% of criteria to meet stakeholder expectations. Only half (53%) presented an investor case and just 18% presented financial targets. This compared to 28% for European companies. For Careers, UK companies performed slightly better, on average, fulfilling almost half (48%) of the criteria, including presenting information about learning and development (63%) and presenting their purpose (80%). But only a quarter of UK companies (26%) present any information about work/life balance and just 36% offer any information about working from home, which is of increasing importance to jobseekers since the Covid pandemic. In terms of presenting ESG information, there is a notable gap despite growing stakeholder interest. While companies effectively showcase documents like codes of conduct and tax policies, they fall behind in other important area such as targets and achievements. UK companies fulfil, on average just 43% of the criteria in the Sustainability section and while 72% present environmental targets, only 25% present data on target achievements. Top performers Energy company, BP, topped this year’s survey, scoring 61.4 out of a possible 100 points. It performed particularly well when it came to careers information for jobseekers as well as sustainability information. Global leader in premium drinks, Diageo, also rose in the rankings this year, climbing to second place, scoring 60.8 points. They scored highly, with a well-crafted Careers section, with information on flexible working and hiring information. Shell maintains third place on the UK list and performs well in financial reporting and sustainability. The top climber (the company that has improved its score the most since last year) is Reckitt Benckiser Group, improving the score with 16.6 points. This year’s ten best-performing UK companies were: UK companies struggle to meet increasing demands for transparency Rank Company Sector Score 1 BP Energy 61.4 2 Diageo Food, Beverage and Tobacco 60.8 3 Shell Energy 60.3 4 Unilever Personal Care, Drug and Grocery Stores 60 5 Centrica Utilities 57.6 6 Rolls-Royce Holdings Industrial Goods and Services 57 7 Coca-Cola HBC Food, Beverage and Tobacco 56.9 8 BAE Systems Industrial Goods and Services 56.5 9 GlaxoSmithKline Health Care 55.9 10 British American Tobacco Food, Beverage and Tobacco 55.5
Fellten Collaborates with Morgan Motor Company to produce battery for XP-1, a new experimental prototype electric Morgan Fellten, vehicle electrification innovators, today shared details of its collaboration with Morgan Motor Company. In a ground-breaking move blending tradition with innovation, Fellten has supported Morgan Motor Company in developing the electric XP-1 prototype, showcasing the seamless integration of Fellten’s cutting-edge battery technology. This collaboration comes on the heels of Fellten’s remarkable achievement at the 2023 SEMA Show, where its Universal Battery Pack UBP55E received the prestigious Global Media Award. The Morgan XP-1, a prototype electric three-wheeler, embodies a perfect blend of Morgan’s unique sports car ethos and Fellten’s advanced electric technology. The XP-1, based on the platform of the Super 3, operates on a sophisticated 33kWh battery system provided by Fellten, ensuring a lightweight build and dynamic performance. Fellten’s contribution to the XP-1 includes a state-of-the-art battery pack and battery management system, playing a pivotal role in maintaining the vehicle’s lightweight architecture. The integration of these systems testifies to Fellten’s capability in adapting to the specific needs of unique vehicle designs for concepts and as a Tier One supplier to the automotive industry. Further cementing its status as a leader in electric re-powering technology, Fellten’s UBP55E Universal Battery Pack, a 55kWh highdensity battery system, was honoured with the Global Media Award at the 2023 SEMA Show (USA) - showcasing Fellten’s excellence in engineering, offering versatility for a range of classic vehicles, from muscle cars to 4x4s. Both the XP-1 battery system and the UBP55E are designed for efficiency and ease of integration, featuring an in-built CCS rapid charging, advanced thermal management, and robust power delivery - and manufactured in Bristol, UK. Morgan’s Commitment to Electrification XP-1 is a statement of intent to Morgan’s electric future. The company is embarking on an electrification journey, with XP-1 playing a fundamental role in the development process of future electric Morgan sports cars. The firm is committed to producing electric sports cars that are lightweight, fun to drive, coachbuilt, and bespoke. Characteristics that have become synonymous with its models since 1909. Matthew Hole, Chief Technical Officer of Morgan Motor Company, said, “It has been great to be able to work with industry-leading experts like Fellten to provide a one-off battery for our new electric experimental prototype, XP-1. We are immensely proud to be sharing XP-1 with the world and showcasing some of the first-class engineering that takes place behind the scenes at Morgan. As we embark on our electric journey, this prototype will become a focal point of the engineering and design process, providing a wealth of insight and helping to build up our in-house EV capability. We are in no doubt that we can ensure future electric Morgan sports cars retain the core appeal of our current range, meaning they are fun to drive, lightweight, handcrafted, and bespoke. We will be relentless in our pursuit of preserving these characteristics for our customers for generations to come”. Chris Hazell, Fellten CEO, said: “Fellten’s collaboration with Morgan Motor Company on the XP-1 prototype underscores our commitment to leading the conversion-to-electric revolution. We are dedicated to innovation and quality, striving to blend tradition with modern technology on a large scale. We invite trade and industry partners to join us in shaping an electrified, sustainable future.” Leading EV Technology Firm Fellten Partners with Morgan to Develop three-wheeled electric Prototype
Bed bug detection tech company Spotta secures £3m funding to supercharge its growth Spotta’s pest-detecting technology expands into new markets following a year of surging demand In addition to expansion in hospitality, Spotta will use the funding to continue its international expansion in agriculture, forestry and horticulture. It is estimated that 40% of global crop production is lost to pests and diseases. Spotta’s technology allows farmers to detect and prevent the outbreak of insects before they kill crops. It also reduces the need for pesticides, helping to improve productivity and reduce the environmental impact of crop farming. The investment comes after a period of unprecedented growth for Spotta this summer. Covid hit the hospitality industry very hard indeed but its recovery over the past two years together with bed bug population growth has led to a record year for Spotta with over 3 million room nights now protected. Early investors Martlet, Wren Capital, Remus Capital, and business angels from Cambridge Angels and Cambridge Capital Group have also continued to invest in this round and Growthworks has joined as a new investor. Robert Fryers, CEO and co-founder of Spotta: “The approach to insect detection has remained unchanged for decades. Infestations are found too late, after the damage is done. Spotta changes this. The timing of our investment round coincided with the recent Paris bed bug infestation, which only reinforced the need for safe, effective and cost-efficient preventative measures like Spotta. This capital injection will be used to fuel our growth across the globe and to continue our expansion into new and exciting markets.” Tim Mills, Managing Partner, ACF Investors: “The Spotta platform built by Robert, Neil and the team delivers a real solution which can completely turn the insect pest control industry on its head. With their smart 24/7 monitoring enabling customers to precision target treatment for the first time. It’s a solution that protects people and crops but also hugely reduces the cost and environmental impact of treatment.” Spotta, the smart pest detection tech company, has raised a £3 million growth investment round led by The Yield Lab, STIHL Ventures, and ACF Investors. The latest investment will be used to drive the global growth of Spotta’s products, in particular the breakout success of the Bed Pod detectors for bed bugs. Founded in 2018, Spotta’s ultra-low-power insect monitoring sensors track pests continuously so customers can detect infestations early. The sensors detect insects in real time using machine learning/AI and can be installed wherever insect pests might be discovered– from hotel rooms to forests. Insect pests cost the economy approximately $570 billion a year by spreading diseases, killing crops and damaging businesses’ reputations around the world. Early detection allows organisations to take action to eradicate the problem before it becomes uncontrollable. Spotta’s platform technology shows exactly when, where and what types of insects are active. This allows the right intervention, in the right place and at the right time, massively reducing the damage pests can do. Its Bed Pods fit seamlessly under mattresses in hotel rooms and provide real-time data via automated alerts which inform the hotels of the location of the pests, complete with the room number, time data and photo tracking.
UK’s budding entrepreneurs stifled by cost of living crisis Nearly all (97%) of budding entrepreneurs across the UK feel that there are factors holding them back from starting a business, with the cost of living crisis heading up the list, referenced by nearly four out of ten (38%) as a top barrier. Underlining the prevalence of money-related concerns, the next most important barrier was ‘perceptions of the financial cost’ (cited by 26%). These were among the main findings of recent research, commissioned by the AI-driven business planning enterprise, Venture Planner, which polled the views of 2,000 people across the UK, who had previously considered starting their own business, either on their own or in partnership with others. Very few of the survey sample don’t know their market or lack motivation, or confidence in their skills, but 24% are nevertheless hampered by a fear of failure, and the same percentage are unsure of ‘where to begin’. More than nine out of ten respondents (91%) see “having the knowledge to create a business plan’ as a concern. The survey also reveals that the drive to become an entrepreneur is also in part the dream of realising the vision of an alternative lifestyle. Nearly half of the sample (46%) said that if they were to set up a new business, it would definitely be in a different sector from the one they are working in now. 48% say my current sector pays the bills but dream of working in a sector that aligns with their personal interests, while 41% say they would set up in a different sector to achieve a different lifestyle, or work-life balance. Alex Clansey, co-founder and CEO of Venture Planner, comments on the findings: “The data from our survey paints a vivid picture of the obstacles that stand in the way of prospective business founders helping both to realise the UK’s entrepreneurial potential and satisfy their own dreams. Our platform is designed to break down these barriers, offering intuitive, AI-powered tools to help anyone, from seasoned entrepreneurs to aspiring solo business owners, to confidently navigate the complexities of business planning and financial management.” Almost all dreamers and entrepreneurs feel they need support with at least one aspect of business planning., with 55% believing they need help with financial forecasting. AI is increasingly seen as a potential way forward. More than three-quarters of budding entrepreneurs (78%) say they would either ‘maybe’ or ‘definitely’ consider using an AI tool to help generate a business plan, while fewer than one in five (18%) said they were not sure where AI can help. Moreover, despite the fact that AI is new and unfamiliar to many, 42% of the sample would trust it as much as, or more than a human generated plan. Nicola McKenzie, co-founder, Venture Planner, said: “Many people today get their business advice either from online articles or from social media. 39% of our survey sample say they have followed and engaged with social media content from entrepreneurs or influencers as part of their research into starting a business. Actually by using an AI tool created by financial planning specialists, you are going to learn a lot more about the feasibility of your business idea. So, rather than scrolling through social media for hours to find business advice that is not personalised to your needs, have a go on Venture Planner and bring your dream to life.” AI-driven business planning tools offer new hope