Beringea backs children’s gifts personalisation site My 1st Years

My 1st Years, the children’s gifts personalisation site, has secured £5m in growth funding led by venture and growth investor Beringea, and supported with funds managed by Hargreave Hale. The investment will be used to drive developments in operations, marketing and international expansion into the US.

My 1st Years is an ecommerce company that provides personalised gifts for babies and children. The company was founded by Daniel Price and Jonny Sitton in 2009, and has since become a favourite with celebrities including Dannii Minogue and Elton John as well as the royals. The business previously secured £2m in funding from High Net Worth individuals, including Lord David Alliance, co-founder of Coats Viyella and co-owner of N Brown Group which includes Jacamo and Simply Be in its catalogue. This brings the total amount raised by My 1st Years so far to £7m.

The announcement is fresh off the back on My 1st Years launching in Harrods last month. This is the latest in a number of retail partnerships including notonthehighstreet.com, John Lewis and Selfridges.

“We always had a lot of faith in the potential of this company, but we’ve really seen that come to life in the last year or so, and it’s time for us to build on the success we’ve already had. Funding is key to the next step for us,” said Daniel Price, co-founder and joint managing director of My 1st Years.

“Women in the UK spend around £220m on baby showers alone, but it really struck us that there was a huge untapped market for personalisation. When we launched the business, our aim was to plug the gap and provide quality products in the same amount of time you would have an unpersonalised item. Because we were early to the party, we’ve grown with the personalisation trend and have had to be pretty reactive, adapting our systems to ensure we are able to personalise items the same day. With this funding under our belt, we’ll be able to enhance our existing proprietary personalisation technology, as well as invest in the skills we need to do more with our data, create effective marketing campaigns and build on our international shipping by expanding into the US. We’re hugely excited to be working with investors that have a proven track record in retail, and look forward to what 2017 will bring.”

Having been through school and university together, Jonny and Daniel have known each other from the age of four. They initially came up with the idea for My 1st Years when they were working on a university project together, which brought to light the size and value of the baby products market. Inspired by NikeID tags, they saw the potential for a personlisation business, and set out to create it after they graduated. They were introduced to Beringea by their corporate finance advisor, Eleanor Wilkinson, ABG Corporate Finance last year.

“Daniel and Jonny are natural entrepreneurs,” said Maria Wagner, investment director at Beringea. “What they have achieved so far is particularly impressive given this is their first job out of university. Not only have they spotted a gap in the market and had the guts to go for it, they have also managed to secure the support of veteran ecommerce professionals, broker relationships with leading retailers in the country and create impressive buzz amongst the press and consumers. Their achievements so far give me immense confidence that they can really push on to the next level with support from us. We look forward to joining them on their journey.”

This is the latest in a series of investments for Beringea in retail and ecommerce – a particular area of expertise for Wagner as the former managing director of Birchbox UK. The company invested in luxury watch reseller Watchfinder in 2014 and announced investment in the men’s styling site Thread last year, as well as technology companies Poq (app commerce) and Contact Engine (communications). The company also completed a partial exit on jewellery-making company Monica Vinader in 2016, scoring 12x return on the initial investment. Its diverse portfolio covers a range of other industries including digital media, business software and services and consumer products.