Minerva, a business angel network which is part of University of Warwick Science Park, has played a vital role in helping Lincoln-based tech start-up Tended access the funds and know-how needed to take its intelligent safety solutions to the next level.
Founded in August 2017, Tended creates intelligent wearables and safety solutions that can detect accidents and immediately notify the wearer’s emergency contacts with their GPS location, health and activity data.
After two Minerva pitching rounds, Tended secured a total of £935,000 through Minerva Business Angels, including a single investment of £810,000 from Blackfinch Ventures. They went on to secure a further £221,000 from innovate UK, taking the total raised to £1.15m.
Liz McKenzie, Vice Chair of the West Midlands Growth Company and a Minerva Angel, took the lead in supporting the Tended investment across the Minerva network. She has joined the start-up as Chair to lend her expertise and contacts to the fledgling company.
The company’s founder, Leo Scott Smith, first approached Minerva in February 2018. He explained: “After seeing Tended pitch a couple of times at Minerva events, one of Blackfinch Ventures directors expressed an interest in investing. Initially, I thought it was just him acting as an individual Angel, so when I heard the investment was to be through Blackfinch and they were interested in investing £810k, it came as quite a shock! It also came at just the right time as we had a number of very exciting opportunities opening up, which required a much larger cash injection than previously anticipated.”
Alex Toft Head of Minerva, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have helped Tended secure such a significant investment, supporting their growth and creating new high-tech jobs in Lincolnshire.
“It’s a real testament to Minerva’s strategy of identifying great companies that are worthy of support, and linking them up with our Angels.
“Minerva Angels don’t just put their hands in their pockets. As Liz has done for Tended, our angels lend their credibility, vouching for these young companies across the Minerva network.
“It's also great to see our own growth plans to improve access to Angel investment paying real dividends.”
Dr Reuben Wilcock, Ventures Director at Blackfinch, said “We were lucky to discover Tended at one of the Minerva Business Angel events and were impressed by the passion and drive of Leo and his team. Blackfinch is excited to be making this investment and keen to see Tended gain market traction with their intelligent wearables solution.”
Liz McKenzie, Minerva’s Lead Angel for the Tended raise, said: “Tended was one of my first investments as an Angel and to take the lead role was a great opportunity.
“Working together with my fellow Angel investors who can help support Tended demonstrates the important role we can play in the whole access to finance ecosystem for such companies.
“Being subsequently asked to become the Chair of Tended’s Board, was a great privilege and pleasure to accept, especially given my relevant background. My experience has been hard won, and it’s great when that experience can be used to support a young growing company. It’s also an additional benefit of Minerva, talented young companies can draw on a wealth of expertise.”
Leo Scott Smith, CEO of Tended added: “We are very excited to have received this investment to help develop safety solutions that could potentially save lives. It’s great to see Tended growing so quickly, made possible by the support of Minerva Business Angels.”
Minerva Business Angels, part of the University of Warwick Science Park, is the UK’s largest traditional Angel network with Angel groups operating throughout the Midlands and has recently expanded into London and the North West. In all there are 9 Minerva Investment Groups Minerva has been running since 1994 and has invested in over 80 companies.
Minerva is part of the University of Warwick Science Park Ltd and is an organisation which has helped over 70 companies receive more than £ 11 million through its network of Angel investors, attracting around a further £35 million in co-investment. https://Minerva.uk.net
The idea behind Tended came about five years ago when founder and CEO, Leo Scott Smith, was involved in the coordination of a charity dedicated to improving lives within the poorer communities of Nepal, particularly after the 2015 earthquakes. Each day of his work in the country unveiled new dangers, including aftershocks, landslides, and even ambushes and he was constantly battling for his safety.
Often alone in remote areas, Leo realised that in the event of the unthinkable, he may not be found for hours or even days. At the same time, his mother fell from a high ladder in the UK while renovating her house. Although not seriously injured, it could have been much worse, especially as she lives alone.
After searching the market for a personal safety solution that was adaptable to both situations, Leo found that there was a gap in the market. All existing products were large and bulky, used basic technology which either relied on manual activation or heavily manned call centres which as well as regularly resulting in false alarms made the solutions very expensive. This inspired the idea behind Tended and the development of intelligent safety solutions started.
About Blackfinch Group
Blackfinch is an award-winning investment specialist supporting advisers and clients in their aims. Entrusted with over £290 million in assets under management and administration, Blackfinch holds its values as core, constantly adapting to and evolving with market change.
About Blackfinch Ventures
Blackfinch Ventures invests in innovation. It targets high-growth opportunities, supporting start-ups and early stage businesses with technological potential. The focus is on disruptive businesses, offering products that address real world needs, with the capability to make an impact in global markets.
Blackfinch Ventures’ ethos is that Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) funding, together with strong, active business support, can fuel economic growth in new businesses. The Blackfinch Ventures EIS Portfolios enable clients to access tax benefits along with bringing the prospect of significant returns.
Blackfinch co-invests alongside clients, ensuring alignment of interests and the team remains closely involved with investee firms from investment through to exit to help create businesses with strong market value. The team offers advice and guidance, whilst remaining mindful of the entrepreneur’s need for independence and freedom.
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