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Resolver.co.uk secures £2.8m of investment to transform consumer rights & complaint resolution

Posted by Isabella Cookson, 31 Oct 2016
 

Parent company Resolving Limited completes first institutional investment round to double team, double traffic and lead the way in resolving customer complaints internationally

  • Oversubscribed round saw key investment from Draper Esprit & Imperial Innovations
  • co.uk has seen 10% average month-on-month growth since 2014 launch
  • Site is developing AI to help make it easier for consumers to resolve their issues
  • After changing the UK consumer complaints landscape, Resolver sets sights abroad
Resolver.co.uk – the free and independent website dedicated to making it easier for consumers to make complaints or raise issues with brands, companies and organisations to get redress or money back – has secured a funding round of £2.8 million. By the end of 2016, the UK’s key resolution website for complaints expects to have helped resolve issues worth £100m+ for consumers and businesses. The site is projected to reach one million visitors a month by March 2017. Consistently rated 5* by users, many contact the site with their success stories showing how they’ve got back hundreds of pounds using a process that takes just a few minutes. Some have reported receiving thousands of pounds owed to them. And in its first institutional investment round, parent company Resolving Limited has now secured funding from Draper Esprit and Imperial Innovations to allow it to double its team and invest in new technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. Currently Resolver.co.uk boasts 556,000 registered users and raises an average of 1,500 new cases on any given day. It is growing at a rate of more than 10% month-on-month and receives more than 600,000 visits each month. Launched just two years ago in September 2014, it was created by founder James Walker, after he experienced poor service resolving a complaint with boiler repair insurance. Resolver.co.uk now has more than 30,000 companies, brands and organisations in its database and users can sign up in seconds via the website or through the iOS or Android apps. A case can be created and sent off within a few minutes thanks to technology that automatically writes a template email based on a few details about the problem. James Walker says: “What we have done so far with a small but extremely dedicated team is awesome. We have made real tangible impacts on a range of industries and our presence has encouraged better customer service in many sectors. That’s down to the hard work of everyone at Resolver and shows why our funding round was so popular and oversubscribed. “But there is much more to do. By the end of 2016, we expect to have resolved issues worth more than £100m and this initial round of institutional investment allows us to focus on increasing our user base. We will also put in place new emerging technologies to automate many processes that make raising cases faster and help us and the consumer to predict the likelihood of a resolution and what it may be. We also have plans to expand internationally.” On signing up to Resolver.co.uk, consumers provide a few details about their issue and the technology then advises them of their consumer rights. The platform automatically helps prepare their case submission by creating an email with all the relevant details. The consumer can then send this off through the platform to the appropriate organisation. The system stores all communications including documents and photographs and can log phone calls. It also reminds consumers to escalate their case if there is no reply – including for an independent assessment to the regulator or Ombudsman. Resolver is engaged with key consumer Ombudsman, regulators and leading consumer rights organisations. James adds: “The aim of Resolver is to help consumers and businesses resolve issues quickly and simply making a positive difference to customer service, which is very patchy across all industries in the UK and crying out for improvement.” Funding will also be used to double traffic to more than 1.5m registered users over the next 12 months with investments in marketing, PR, content and social media. Stuart Chapman, Managing Partner of Draper Esprit, which has an interest in consumer services and is behind firms such as Trustpilot and Conversocial, says: “We see a continued growth of services to help empower consumers and Resolver helps in a key area for customer loyalty. We see Resolver as making a real difference in helping and empowering consumers but also helping businesses to deliver better services.” Jon Edington, Partner of Imperial Innovations – which is interested in the future of Artificial Intelligence – adds: “Resolver is working to transform consumer rights and complaint resolution by automating the process for the benefit of both consumers and businesses. “The company has made fantastic progress since its creation two years ago and we are looking forward to working with the team to grow its user base and increase its breadth of offering, both for consumers, and for the thousands of companies in Resolver’s database that use the services to improve their customer services.” As part of the site’s free and independent ethos, users of Resolver.co.uk don’t have any of their personal consumer data sold to third parties and they are not met with adverts. Instead Resolver as a company raises revenue by helping businesses understand how well their own companies and organisations are performing – as well as their competitors – based on anonymised user data taken from the system. Resolver.co.uk sees 65% of cases offered a resolution with many users receiving back hundreds of pounds each. Top issues include banking (including packaged bank accounts), travel and flight delays, shopping instore/online, telecoms, utilities and dining out. For more information/pictures, to speak to James Walker or to arrange a demo of Resolver.co.uk, please get in touch with: Jonathan Weinberg, Bootstrapped PR, jw@bootstrappedpr.com, 07947 141014 Lauren Soar, Bootstrapped PR, lauren@bootstrappedpr.com, 07720 089487   About Resolver.co.uk Resolver’s free and independent website and iOS/Android apps enable people to get their complaints heard quickly and easily – and resolved successfully. After entering details of issues into the impartial platform, users are given templated emails created automatically with all their relevant details. These are then sent through the Resolver system to the right department/s at any one of 30,000+ brands, companies and organisations. Complaints can then be escalated all the way to Ombudsman Services or appropriate regulators. Each day, an average of 1500 new cases are raised through Resolver.co.uk. The website receives more than 600,000 visits each month and offers up-to-date advice and tips at the start of the process to inform users of their consumer rights. The company was launched in September 2014 by James Walker following an awful complaints experience relating to a boiler repair at his home. Based in Borough, south London, in 2015, Resolver won business SME award The Pitch. Resolver are proud members of AdviceUK, TrustMark, Trading Standards Institute and Buy with Confidence and work in consultation with regulators, government departments, Ombudsmen and consumer rights organisations.  



 

Graphcore secures $30m to accelerate artificial intelligence

Posted by Isabella Cookson, 31 Oct 2016
 

31 Oct 2016, Bristol, UK: Graphcore Ltd, a startup developing new technology to deliver massive acceleration for machine learning and AI applications, has completed a $30m Series-A funding round from a world-class line up of venture capital and strategic investors. The funding was led by Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH with Samsung Catalyst Fund and other major technology firms, alongside leading venture capital funds from London, Silicon Valley and Israel: Amadeus Capital Partners, C4 Ventures, Draper Esprit plc, Foundation Capital and Pitango Venture Capital. Graphcore has spent the last two years building an experienced hardware and software team to develop a system designed from the ground up to accelerate both current and next generation machine intelligence applications such as natural language dialogue, autonomous vehicles and personalized medicines. The company will bring its IPU (Intelligent Processing Unit) system to market in 2017 with the IPU-Appliance™ designed to lower the cost of accelerating AI applications in cloud and enterprise datacenters. The IPU-Appliance aims to increase the performance of both training and inference by between 10x and 100x compared to the fastest systems in use today. The company also plans to make its low power IPU technology available for embedded consumer applications including autonomous cars, collaborative robots and intelligent mobile devices. IPU systems will accelerate the full range of training, inference, and prediction approaches. Its huge computational resources and software tools and libraries are flexible and easy to use, allowing researchers to explore machine intelligence across a much broader front than the current focus on feed-forward neural networks. This technology will enable recent success in deep learning to evolve rapidly towards useful, general artificial intelligence. A Bank of America Merrill Lynch report citing IDC research recently predicted that the AI industry will exceed $70 billion by 2020 and Tractica predicts that spending on hardware for deep learning projects will grow from $436 million in 2015 to $41.5 billion by 2024. Graphcore CEO and co-founder, Nigel Toon, said, “Machine intelligence will have a bigger impact on our lives over the next 10 years than mobile technology has had in the last two decades. Next generation machine intelligence will allow us to translate foreign languages in real-time, help diagnose illnesses and develop personalized treatments, control robots that clean our houses and offices, drive cars autonomously and provide us with intelligent digital assistants that can help us organize our busy lives. The IPU is the first system specifically designed for machine intelligence.” Graphcore CTO and co-founder, Simon Knowles, said, “For 70 years we have built computers to do exactly what a software program says, step by step. The program is an algorithm for solving a problem, and that algorithm must come from a human. Today’s computers do not actually help the human to solve the problem. Machine intelligence is turning that on its head.  Intelligent machines can analyse data like humans, discover underlying patterns, and effectively write their own programs. They can then adapt their behaviour through trial and error, like humans. They can deal with probabilities and exercise judgement in the presence of uncertainty, like humans. We are at the dawn of this second age of computing, in which machines are given the capacity for intelligence. The value to society of intelligent computing will be far greater than that of all computing so far. Silicon is still our best technology for building such machines, but the design details will be quite different from today’s microprocessors. Graphcore is at the vanguard of this revolution in computer design and has assembled a peerless engineering team to deliver the first processors designed from scratch for general intelligence.” Linley Gwennap principal analyst of The Linley Group commented, “Machine intelligence and deep learning applications are now popular enough to justify new silicon approaches. The team at Graphcore has a strong track record of creating successful new processors for emerging markets.” Dr Hongquan Jiang, Partner at Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH added, “Graphcore has a unique technology that has massive potential in the fast emerging market for deep learning. A new processor technology is needed for intelligent systems and Graphcore has the first technology that we have seen which really delivers the performance and efficiency needed for this style of compute. We are excited to have led this very significant investment round.” “Graphcore’s approach is unique in its capability to enable advanced intelligent systems,” said Ekaterina Almasque, Managing Director, Samsung Catalyst Fund, Europe. “It closes the gap between the level of intelligence we want to see on edge devices and compute limitations of existing hardware architectures. At Samsung Catalyst Fund, we invest in disruptive companies in this space, and believe tremendous value will be created in the next 10 years  by artificial intelligence applications. Graphcore will play an important role as a key enabling technology.” Hermann Hauser, co-founder at Amadeus Capital Partners and a renowned technology entrepreneur, said, “I have worked with Nigel and Simon before in their previous companies where they achieved over $1bn in successful exits for their investors. The team they have assembled is second to none. Machine learning is becoming a major market and Graphcore has the technology to lead this next wave of computing.” Bill Elmore, General Partner and co-founder at Foundation Capital, one of Silicon-Valley’s top venture capital firms behind a large number of highly successful companies including Netflix, said, “Graphcore will lower the cost of accelerating AI applications in the cloud. This is exactly the type of world-class systems company, with breakthrough technology, and a great team, that Foundation Capital supports.” Simon Cook, CEO Draper Esprit Plc, stated, “Graphcore is one of the first investments made since we publicly listed in London and Dublin. This is a sector we know well and a founding team that we have successfully backed before. Nigel and Simon have created an exciting company developing next generation processor technology and we are pleased to be investing at this key stage in its development.” Pascal Cagni, Founding Partner of C4 Ventures, Apple GM and VP EMEA (2000-2012), said: “Since its foundation C4 Ventures has been backing hardware companies revolutionising their sector and we believe Graphcore’s disruptive technology is a game changer in the computing field. Graphcore’s solution pushes further the boundaries of Machine Intelligence, which will unlock value across every industry.” Eyal Niv, Managing General Partner at Pitango Venture Capital, said: “We are very excited to become part of Graphcore and to be backing great entrepreneur like Nigel and Simon. I believe we are on the verge of a new and smarter era, in which computer intelligence, machine learning and deep learning, will transform every aspect of our lives. Smart personalized medicine, autonomous transportation and robotics, smart infrastructure and accurate business prediction are just some of the areas which will be transformed and immensely improved by machine learning technologies. I really believe machine learning will bring about the biggest transformation ever, bigger than the internet, mobile and social put together.” Graphcore was advised by Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in the financing. About Graphcore Graphcore is a systems and silicon company that has created the Intelligent Processing Unit (IPU) to accelerate machine intelligence, making it faster and easier to deliver AI applications. Graphcore is backed by leading venture capital and strategic investors including Amadeus Capital Partners, C4 Ventures, Draper Esprit, Foundation Capital, Pitango Venture Capital, Robert Bosch Venture Capital and Samsung SSIC, and is headquartered in Bristol UK. More information can be found at http://www.graphcore.ai Press Contact: Sally Doherty sally.doherty@graphcore.ai +44 7815 873601



 

Perkbox, UK’s leading employee perks & benefits provider, secures £2.5m backing from Draper Esprit

Posted by Isabella Cookson, 24 Oct 2016
 

24 Oct, London, UK  Digital employee engagement firm Perkbox has today secured £2.5m backing from VC Draper Esprit who invested on the same terms as other early-stage investors on equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs. Perkbox launched on Seedrs this Monday with a target of £1.5 million and has already overfunded to £4 million exceeding its crowdfunding target by 270%. This is the first funding round for Perkbox since launch, when the founders made a decision to grow organically following a £350,000 investment secured at seed stage from Zoopla CEO Alex Chesterman and AC Sherry Coutu back in 2011, when it originally launched as Huddlebuy, a group-buying platform for SMEs. Perkbox was conceived after the business pivoted three times to hone its offering of providing a digital engagement platform that enables companies of all sizes, including startups, to incentivise, motivate and attract staff through over 200 perks and benefits and a sophisticated rewards & recognition infrastructure. Launched in 2015, the company already has over 300,000 paying members ranging from SMEs to large corporations such as British Gas and BUPA. Monthly recurring revenue has grown more than 10 times to £1.4m/month in 18 months, tripling sales in 2015 and expecting to triple sales again in 2016. The company's goal is to achieve a turnover of £100 million in three years and become one of the UK's largest software services for businesses. The money raised from Draper Esprit and Seedrs investors will fast-track Perkbox's mission to transform unhappy workplaces stateside and across Europe having seen the appetite for the scheme in the UK. The estimated global potential is £22 billion and Perkbox has its sights firmly set on tapping into these markets. Perkbox was recently listed no. 2 in the Startups 100 Index for being one of the most innovative emerging ventures in the country. Simon Cook, CEO, Draper Esprit, comments: "We are excited to be leading this growth round in Perkbox alongside a great angel group and the crowd. Employee motivation is a fundamental issue for today's best companies, small and large, and the Perkbox digital platform is the best we have seen. Perkbox sits alongside other investments we have made in the customer satisfaction space, such as Trustpilot and Conversocial, while its growing focus on employee well being exists with companies such as Graze, Push Doctor and Lifesum." The campaign remains open for funding on Seedrs. - ENDS - Notes to editors: About Perkbox Perkbox is a cloud-based employee perks and engagement platform for business of all sizes, giving employers and employees a range of great perks, social reward and recognition tools and health and wellness platforms that help employers promote the financial, emotional and physical wellbeing of their team. Perkbox was set up with the belief that the best companies to work for look after their teams and value their staff.  The most successful businesses are comprised of people who are engaged, satisfied and loyal. Providing perks and engagement tools helps build stronger teams and incentivises workers to aspire to greatness. Until recently, only large corporations could afford to pay for employee perks. Perkbox's easy and wholly customised offering allows SMEs to reward and incentivise their growing team with perks that help build a happy work culture with an investment in line with their budgets. For more information about Perkbox and interviews / image requests contact: Andrea San Pedro, PR Director, tel: 07891 625928, email: andrea@perkbox.co.uk About Draper Espirt Draper Esprit (http://www.draperesprit.com) was founded in 2006, and is one of the largest and most active VC firms in Europe, helping entrepreneurs to build global ground-breaking technology companies. In 2016 it moved its primary funds into a listed PLC model (LSE: GROW.L) in order to take a longer term, multi-stage, patient capital approach. In recent years, Draper Esprit's exits have generated more than $3 billion in combined enterprise value. Draper Esprit is the exclusive European member of the Silicon Valley-based Draper Global Network with offices around the world, with portfolio companies including Baidu, Skype, Space X, Tesla and Yammer and other world leading companies.



 

Appointment of Chief Financial Officer and Sale of Portfolio Company Qosmos

Posted by Paula Darlison, 24 Oct 2016
 

Draper Esprit plc (“Draper Esprit” or the “Company”) Appointment of Chief Financial Officer and Sale of Portfolio Company Qosmos Draper Esprit (AIM: GROW, ESM: GRW), one of the leading venture capital firms involved in the creation, funding and development of high-growth digital technology businesses, is pleased to announce both the appointment of a new Chief Financial Officer (“CFO”) and the sale of portfolio company Qosmos to ENEA, the NASDAQ and Stockholm listed global supplier of network software platforms and services. CFO The Company is delighted to announce that Benjamin Wilkinson has been appointed as Chief Financial Officer to the Management Board of the Company. Mr Wilkinson is a senior finance executive and Chartered Accountant with extensive international experience in financial management, corporate finance and investment banking and most recently was the Chief Financial Officer at AIM-listed President Energy PLC. Before his tenure at President Energy PLC, Mr Wilkinson worked at Levine Capital Management Advisors Ltd, a Private Investment Fund and held roles in Corporate Finance at ABN AMRO Bank/ Royal Bank of Scotland. Commenting on the appointment of Ben Wilkinson, Simon Cook, Chief Executive, said: “Ben has extensive public company experience and a track record of delivering on strategic financial benchmarks. The recent IPO was transformational for Draper Esprit and we are confident that Ben’s addition to the senior management team will help us continue to drive growth. We are excited to have him on board and look forward to introducing him to our investors.” Sale of Portfolio Company QOSMOS to ENEA The Company also today announces that ENEA, a leading global information technology company that provides real-time operating systems and consulting services, has signed an agreement to acquire portfolio company, Qosmos for a total cash consideration of approximately €52.7 million. Qosmos is a supplier of Network Intelligence software based on Deep Packet Inspection and commands a dominating share of its market. Closing of the transaction is subject to approvals from French government authorities and is expected to be completed beginning December 2016. The disclosed audited NAV of Draper Esprit’s holding in Qosmos as at 30 April 2016 was £4.9 million (which reflects the valuation as at 31 December 2015 adjusted for Forex as set out in the Admission Document). The amount received by Draper Esprit on completion of sale will be approximately £6 million with a further €1.9m expected in 24 months’ time and consequently this will have a positive impact on the Company’s overall Net Asset Value (“NAV”). Commenting on the sale Simon Cook added: “We have achieved much since the IPO with a number of new investments and notably the Movidius and now Qosmos exits. Our NAV is, as planned, showing strong progression and we look forward to updating Shareholders in further detail next month at the time of our maiden Interim Results.” Draper Esprit will be announcing maiden Interim Results for the six months ended 30 September 2016 by the end of November 2016 and will give a further portfolio and NAV update at that time. -ends- Enquiries Draper Esprit plc Simon Cook (Chief Executive Officer) +44 (0)20 7931 8800 Numis Securities Nominated Adviser & Joint Broker Alex Ham Richard Thomas Paul Gillam +44 (0)20 7260 1000 Goodbody Stockbrokers ESM Adviser & Joint Broker Don Harrington Linda Hickey Dearbhla Gallagher +353 1 667 0420 Belvedere Communications (PR) John West Kim van Beeck +44 (0)20 3567 0510