Investor Seneca Partners has marked a record start to 2019 with three multi-million pound deals in three months.
The Warrington-headquartered investment management and corporate advisory business has invested in a trio of London firms – market leading appointment booking software specialist Qudini; Vizibl; and independent software development company Fabacus.
The deals follow hot on the heels of two December investments into The Hook Group, a leading creator and publisher of digital content, and online fashion platform SilkFred.
Seneca specialises in working with UK SMEs generating turnover of up to £100 million.
Matthew Currie, investment manager and growth investor at Seneca Partners, said although they were sector agnostic there has certainly been a move towards tech firms.
“We tend to follow the market and tech is the space that is flying,” he said. “That’s where we’re seeing most of our opportunities. Strangely, most of the ones we’ve seen coming out of the North this year have been consumer-led tech, B2C stuff. It’s the exciting end of the market and one that could take off but it can be a difficult place for a mainstream institution.
“We see a lot of decent consumer businesses with £3m-£4m revenue that are absolutely flying, but that are probably worth a fraction of a B2B focussed tech business with, say, £1m of recurring revenue, purely due to that risk dynamic of selling direct to consumers who may choose to pick up or put down your product at any time.
“The main thing that I always look for straight away is the make-up of the customer base and preferably speaking to a few of them. “
Seneca invested £2m into Qudini, whose market leading appointment booking software, event management software and queuing system has proved a hit with retailers. Imogen Wethered and Fraser Hardy founded Qudini after meeting at a corporate sponsored hackathon in 2012.
Seneca also invested £2m in Old St Labs, whose cloud platform Vizibl enables organisations to speed up growth through Supplier Collaboration & Innovation (SC&I). Old St Labs has secured a series of blue chip clients including Vodafone. London-based, independent software development company Fabacus has received £2.5m from Seneca Partners. The company was founded by Andrew Xeni and aims to revolutionise everything from fashion, retail, licensing and finance.
Currie told BusinessCloud: “The investment is predominately to speed up onboarding processes for key customers because they’ve obviously got the product and the pipeline.”
In December Seneca Partners completed a 7-figure investment into The Hook Group, which has grown rapidly into one of the largest youth-focussed media groups globally, and a follow-on investment into ladies’ online fashion platform SilkFred, which was founded by entrepreneur Emma Watkinson.
Currie said: “We receive and review over 500 proposals a year for investment and of these we invest in around 12-15.”
Seneca Partners has previously invested in Chester-based ‘connected car’ start-up Wejo, which has just received significant investment from General Motors.
Seneca employ 70 people across the group.