Camiloo and Autology take Digital & Creative Fund finance

The North West Fund for Digital & Creative has completed its first two investments, taking interests in mobile and desktop services developer Camiloo and online learning provider Autology.

The fund, which is managed by AXM Venture Capital and launched in January this year, has invested £50,000 for a minority equity stake in Camiloo and £375,000 for a substantial holding in Autology.

Camiloo, which began trading in 2009, develops mobile and desktop services for online retailers. From its base in Salford Quays, near Manchester, the business has grown from a single retainer to more than 320 clients worldwide, despite only a token marketing budget. Its focus is on its Amazon plug-in for the e-commerce Magento software.

Managing director Mark Newby says the company will continue to grow with the launch of a new integration tool that will connect retailers to more than 120 marketplace websites such as eBay, Amazon and Pixmania.

He comments, ‘We began trading just over two years ago from a spare room in an apartment, a story I think will sound familiar to many start-ups in the region. We now look forward to the launch of our first major platform – the evolution of the product which has proven fundamental in our growth.’

David Smith, investment director of AXM Venture Capital, adds: ‘In addition to looking to invest £500,000 to £1 million in individual deals, we are also looking to put seed investment of £50,000 or so into a number of North West media and digital companies.

‘Camiloo is a great example of such a business: a potentially high growth business with an innovative solution to a known problem in the market place, already scaling-up on an international basis where there is the opportunity to make further larger rounds of investment according to the companies’ needs.’

Last month, Autology closed a £660,000 financing round, which consisted of £375,000 from the North West Fund for Digital & Creative and £285,000 from a syndicate of private investors.

Autology, founded in 2007, provides an online learning tool for schools and home-based study. Using the Autonomy search engine, it allows students to access paid-for content from educational publishers such as Pearson, Letts Lonsdale and World Book. The Chester-based company will soon reach more than 500,000 students, and is currently being implemented in schools throughout the West Midlands, Lancashire and Cardiff.

Chairman Julian Harley comments that Autology’s product has significant overseas potential.

He says, ‘Autology is achieving rapid progress as a provider of easily searchable digital content to school and college students with the expectation that we will breakthrough one million student users within the next 12 months. It’s a really exciting time for the company and it’s great to have AXM with us as an investment partner.’

The North West Fund is a £185 million evergreen fund established to provide debt and equity funding from £50,000 to £2 million to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) based in, or relocating to, the North West of England. The fund is one of the largest public sector funds of its kind in Europe and the largest in the UK, and is made up of six funds that includes the North West Fund for Digital & Creative fund.

Todd Cardy

Todd Cardy

Todd was Editor of between 2010 and 2011 as well as being responsible for publishing our digital and printed magazines focusing on private equity and venture capital.

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Early Stage Funding