Former Kiddicare boss Scott Weavers-Wright has opened up about his decision to sell retail tech start-up Elevaate to Silicon Valley giant Quotient, admitting that he “couldn’t scale” the business.
The retail and tech heavyweight, best known for growing online retailer Kiddicare.com before its £70 million sale to Morrisons in 2011, recently exited the Lincolnshire business for an undisclosed sum.
Headquartered in Stamford, Elevaate drives eCommerce sales through sponsored search and product ads, both on retailers’ properties and around the web.
The company was founded in 2014 and counts retail giants like Iceland, Office Depot and Notonthehighstreet.com among its clients, alongside well-known brands including Coca-Cola, Nestle, Mars, Carlsberg and Hugo Boss.
“I just couldn’t scale it,” Weavers-Wright told BusinessCloud. “We were slowly but surely scaling but I just felt we weren’t getting enough traction in the UK.
“We had built some brilliant tech but I couldn’t get the retailers to buy in.”
The 47-year-old remained tight-lipped about the financial terms of the deal, but said the offer was “too good to refuse”.
“I’m not allowed to talk about the money but it was one of the biggest acquisitions of the year in tech,” he said.
The outspoken entrepreneur insists that it was really important for him to find the right buyer for Elevaate as he did not want to see history repeat itself.
“My previous sale [Kiddicare] was a bit of a travesty so I was very keen to secure a perfect – if there is such a thing – scenario with Elevaate,” he said.
“I wanted a tech business to buy a tech business and I wanted to see their plan of how they were going to deploy and executive the technology stateside.”
Weavers-Wright said it was also crucial that the legacy of Elevaate was protected and that his team of engineers – along with the company’s UK head office – were retained.
“The last thing I was willing to accept was a complete mess where they dump the technology and do something else,” he said.
“Quotient have got 30+ grocers in America on their books and they’re executing and deploying Elevaate across their entire customer base.
“So in one stroke of a pen, Elevaate will become one of the top monetisation platforms in the US from the get-go.”
Weavers-Wright is also behind an investment fund called Haatch, which he founded in Lincolnshire five years ago to invest in and support retail and technology start-ups.
After his second UK exit, the 47-year-old says he’s excited to continue investing in tech start-ups and is in the process of raising external funds.
“I’ve been busy investing in tech in London, Dublin, New York and the West Coast in America and that’s been really exciting,” he said.
“What hasn’t been exciting is when some of those businesses come back for more money and I get priced out of the round.
“So I’ve started to raise external funds to continue my investment and I’m looking at starting to raise a growth fund so I can go into the Series A rounds of my own start-ups and I can continue to invest in and support them.”
Weavers-Wright said he’s also “desperate” to invest in drone technology and FinTech.
“People will probably dismiss it as a fantasy but I think drone tech is really interesting,” he said. “I think there’s something in there for delivery and personal use.
“I’m also looking at a FinTech business at the moment. We’ve got to disrupt the banks because they’re pretty useless. We’ve got to wake them up and maybe the banks will start buying this technology.”
Weavers-Wright also hinted that he might consider starting a new retail venture in the new year.
“I want to try and get back in there and inspire some of these damn retailers, who seem very keen on their Christmas adverts but not so keen on survival.
“We can’t just roll over and let Amazon – regardless of how good they are – have no competition. Surely we’ve got to come up with something.”