Midlands-based travel management platform ‘You. Smart. Thing.’ has secured a development capital boost of £1.1m, including funding from Maven Capital Partners, to invest in sales, marketing and recruitment to create 29 new jobs by 2024.
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund (“MEIF”) Debt Finance, managed by Maven Capital Partners (“Maven”), has provided ‘You. Smart. Thing. Limited’ (“YST”), with £250,000 from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) alongside an existing £250,000 MEIF loan, taking its financial backing of the company to £500,000. Maven’s funding, in addition to an Innovate UK grant (via West Midlands 5G) and private investment, will accelerate the company’s pre-Covid market traction and ambitious expansion plans, enabling it to invest in continuous product development, fuel its sales and marketing activities and embark on a recruitment drive to create 29 new jobs by 2024 in the Midlands region.
YST will use the funding to develop its existing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) ‘Travel Assistant’ platform which allows consumers to plan their journey to a venue or event and is completely free to use via the destination or ticket vendors’ website, app or at the point of booking tickets. By embedding the Travel Assistant into existing customer touchpoints, its licensees can offer up-to-date personalised travel assistance, manage travel demand and curate the visitor experience to destinations, venues and events. Users are kept up to date in real time with any changes or disruption to their journey and are notified of alternative routes or travel options.
The global destination management software market was projected to grow from $5.7 billion in 2019 to $11.4 billion by 2024, driven by the growing need for software to plan, manage, and automate the activities associated with venues and events throughout their lifecycle. Since the pandemic this need has become significantly more acute. As it helps the cultural sector navigate its recovery from the pandemic, YST is seeing additional un-met demand for a platform development that can allow transport operators to more effectively promote services whilst managing capacity, a feature that it is now deployed for Transport for Wales and Transport for West Midlands metro services.
Alongside a UK wide roll-out and plans for international expansion, the team at YST are currently working with Coventry City Council on a bespoke Travel Assistant deployment for the 2021 UK City of Culture programme of events.
Jacob Gough, Production Director at Coventry City of Culture Trust, said:
“The major events planned throughout our year as UK City of Culture will attract diverse audiences from the city and beyond. Effective travel planning is essential to help these audiences connect with our world-class programme. Working with ‘You. Smart. Thing.’ will help us make sure people travelling to, and around, Coventry will be able to do so both smartly and safely.”
The company is led by Founder and CEO, Chris Thompson, whose career spans digital product development, marketing and technology. Chris is supported by COO, Andrew Steele, who has 20 years’ experience managing intelligent mobility software product development.
Chris Thompson, Founder and CEO of ‘You. Smart. Thing.’, said:
“The funding will enable us to continue to invest in our platform, which is tailored around optimisation of resources, improved customer service and access to data that enables better marketing and service delivery for destinations and transport operators. Thanks to the team at Maven, we are continuing our upward trajectory and look forward to extending our team to help us meet our goals.”
Sajid Sabir, Investment Associate at Maven Capital Partners, added:
“Travel Assistant is an innovative product delivering a genuinely personalised travel experience. The business is backed by an experienced management team who have in-depth sector knowledge and technical know-how to drive the business forward and we look forward to working with Chris and the team as they execute their ambitious growth plans.”
Ryan Cartwright, Senior Manager at British Business Bank, said:
“The MEIF is committed to championing innovation in the Midlands and it’s great to see this latest investment into ‘You. Smart. Thing.’ being used to support the firm’s ambitious growth plans both here in the region and internationally.”
Tim Pile, Chair of Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, said:
“You. Smart. Thing. is a real innovator within the travel industry and its hugely encouraging to see a company with ambitious expansion plans. With the Commonwealth Games coming to the GBSLEP region in 2022 it is essential we support the movement of people between venues and events. At GBSLEP we support the creation and application of new ideas and believe innovation is key to increasing productivity, competitiveness and growth.”
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is managed by the British Business Bank on behalf of, and with the financial backing of the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy (BEIS).
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.
About Maven Capital Partners UK LLP
Maven Capital Partners UK LLP (Maven) is a lower-mid cap private equity house focused on the provision of growth capital and mezzanine finance to SMEs across the UK. It is one of the most active private equity fund managers in the country, managing over £600 million of assets for a variety of client funds, including Venture Capital Trusts, UK regional debt and equity funds, and Maven Investor Partners – a syndicate of institutional, family office and experienced investors.
Headquartered in Glasgow, and with ten other offices throughout the UK, Maven has nationwide coverage of the market for SME finance and is introduced to around 400 deals per year through 40 regionally based investment executives. With over 70 staff and partners, Maven executes a range of private company transactions, offers hands-on proactive portfolio management to investee companies and provides a fully integrated back-office support function to client and third-party fund managers. Since 2009 Maven has invested over £347 million in SMEs across the UK.
Since MEIF Maven Debt Finance launched, Maven has developed regional focused strategies, tailoring its approach to tackle the specific barriers local SMEs face in each Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area. In the West Midlands and East & South East Midlands, Investment Specialists, who each bring a wealth of knowledge of the region, have been appointed and the team is working closely with local chambers of commerce, advisers and business support organisations to assist local companies to identify and access the right funding to help their businesses grow.
For more information about Maven visit: www.mavencp.com and funds.mavencp.com/meif
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF):
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund will invest in Debt Finance, Small Business Loans, Proof of Concept and Equity Finance funds, ranging from £25,000 to £2m, specifically to help small and medium sized businesses secure the funding they need for growth and development.
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund is operated by British Business Financial Services Limited, wholly owned by British Business Bank, the UK’s national economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity,
The Midlands Engine Investment Fund is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, the European Investment Bank, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and British Business Finance Limited, a British Business Bank group company.
The MEIF covers the following LEP areas: Black Country, Coventry & Warwickshire, Greater Birmingham & Solihull, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, The Marches, and Worcestershire in the West Midlands; and Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham & Nottinghamshire (D2N2) Greater Lincolnshire, Leicester and Leicestershire, and South East Midlands in the East Midlands.
The project is receiving up to £78,550,000 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.
The funds in which Midlands Engine Investment Fund invests are open to businesses with material operations, or planning to open material operations, in, the West Midlands and East & South East Midlands.
The British Business Bank has published the Business Finance Guide (in partnership with the ICAEW, and a further 21 business and finance organisations). The guide, which impartially sets out the range finance options available to businesses and provides links to support available at a regional level, is available at www.thebusinessfinanceguide.co.uk/bbb
About the British Business Bank
The British Business Bank is the UK government’s economic development bank. Established in November 2014, its mission is to make finance markets for smaller businesses work more effectively, enabling those businesses to prosper, grow and build UK economic activity. Its remit is to design, deliver and efficiently manage UK-wide smaller business access to finance programmes for the UK government.
The British Business Bank programmes were supporting more than £8bn of finance to over 98,000 smaller businesses at end of March 2020. Since March 2020, the British Business Bank has launched four new Coronavirus business loan schemes, delivering tens of billions of pounds of finance to over a million businesses.
As well as increasing both supply and diversity of finance for UK smaller businesses through its programmes, the Bank works to raise awareness of the finance options available to smaller businesses:
- The British Business Bank Finance Hub provides independent and impartial information to high-growth businesses about their finance options, featuring short films, expert guides, checklists and articles from finance providers to help make their application a success. The site also features case studies and lessons from real businesses to guide businesses through the process of applying for growth finance.
- The Business Finance Guide (published in partnership with the ICAEW and a further 21 business and finance organisations) impartially sets out the range of finance options available to businesses at all stages – from start-ups to SMEs and growing mid-sized companies. Businesses can take the interactive journey at https://thebusinessfinanceguide.co.uk/
As the holding company of the group operating under the trading name of British Business Bank, British Business Bank plc is wholly owned by HM Government and is not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The British Business Bank operates through a number of subsidiaries, none of which are authorised or regulated by the FCA or the PRA.
British Business Bank plc and its principal operating subsidiaries are not banking institutions and do not operate as such. A complete legal structure chart for British Business Bank plc and its subsidiaries can be found on the British Business Bank plc website.