20 expressions of investor interest at the DBA 10th anniversary pitch event

25 local Dorset Business Angels investors were presented with a wide range of pitches from entrepreneurs.

Super powering reading

Aiming to address the issue of 320 million books ending up in landfills annually worldwide, a venture is focusing on providing more accessible and sustainable reading opportunities. 1 in 5 people struggle with traditional reading, and digital books lack engagement for younger audiences.

In an industry largely dominated and neglected by Amazon, a Cornwall-based company strives to revolutionise the reading and listening experience. They have developed a “super-powered book platform” to drive a generational shift in book consumption, making books more engaging, social, accessible, and sustainable. Their mobile app combines audiobooks and e-books into a fully integrated listen-and-read format, utilising AI to provide distinctive features unmatched by competitors.

Users can choose to listen, read, or engage in both without incurring additional costs. The text and illustrations are displayed as intended by the author, and features such as a built-in dictionary and integration with Wikipedia are available. For the first time, users can search within the audiobook to extract concepts or characters and easily share them on social media.

The audiobook segment is the only growing sector in a £100 billion book industry, delivering a 30% year-on-year growth over the last decade. A social platform is set to launch alongside the reading platform. The model encourages more consumption, rewarding users for purchasing and engaging with books at their own pace. Publishers benefit from an advanced publishing platform enabling books to be published within twenty minutes.

With over 75,000 app downloads, primarily from organic growth, the company is seeking funding to further drive growth. Revenue has experienced a consistent monthly growth rate of over 20% in the past year. While the app is currently marketed only in the UK, customers from over 30 countries have shown interest, highlighting the global potential of this platform. Nearly 40 global publishers are already on board, representing 95% of the UK’s best sellers. The company aims to raise £1 million to sustain aggressive growth. This pitch received significant interest from investors.

Tackling one of the biggest threats to marine life

Addressing a significant threat to marine life, a Cornwall-based company transforms discarded and abandoned fishing gear into eyewear, including sunglasses and optical lenses.

The company retrieves “ghost” gear directly from the Cornish coastline and collaborates with harbour and fishing communities to provide an end-of-life solution to combat the problem at its source, ultimately saving fishermen a £300 landfill cost. This initiative aims to deter the temptation of dumping gear overboard.

The plastic is mechanically recycled and processed into pellets for injection moulding into eyewear products, including sunglasses, optical frames, and blue light glasses. Notably, all frames are crafted from 100% recycled fishing gear. With 25,000 pairs sold, the company offers complete traceability of their product in an industry often tainted by greenwashing.

Additionally, the company has developed supplementary products to engage, educate, and inspire individuals to join their mission, utilising tools manufactured from the very problem they seek to address.

To date, the company has generated £2 million in revenue and has successfully recovered and recycled over 12 tonnes of plastic. The business has been profitable since its foundation in 2018, and direct-to-customer sales account for 40% of the company’s revenue. Over the last two years, the B2B sales channel has emerged as the largest revenue generator.

The founders are currently seeking £600,000 in EIS-eligible funding, with plans to invest in the team, marketing, impact initiatives, product development, and international growth. This pitch garnered interest from five potential investors.

Angels saw 3 further pitches including an end-to-end workflow automation business seeking to simplify the sourcing of industrial spare parts. A company that has created an app which facilitates the creation of a “social sailing CV,” enabling sailors to record, collaborate, and share their sea-faring experiences digitally and a company that has developed fire detection technology suitable for buildings and spaces where traditional methods fall short, utilising video and infrared technology. All pitches gained expressions of interest from investors.

Established in 2013, Dorset Business Angels (DBA) specialises in offering private equity investment opportunities to local high-net-worth (HNW) and sophisticated investors (SI). The investments provided are in the form of equity investments rather than debtors’ loans that span across diverse sectors.

Angel investment within DBA can originate from a single investor or a syndicate of two or three angels combining their funds to support a company.

Sponsored by Saffery, Ellis Jones Solicitors, and Investec, DBA invites investors to book their spot for the upcoming pitch event on February 5th at   www.dorsetbusinessangels.co.uk/events.