Two entrepreneurs based out of the University of Leeds are looking to expand their online marketplace for eco-friendly products into the US and Australian markets following a new funding round.
Eco Market has added to the £200,000 of capital it secured in February 2012 by securing a further £160,000.
New commitments have come in the form of Martin Penny, the co-founder of hair product company ghd, Elisabeth Ling, a former executive at PayPal and eBay, and Nader Alaghband, founder of app development company Appli.
Liam Patterson and Jason Dainter set up Eco Market in 2009 to provide a location for customers to buy eco-friendly natural and Fair Trade products from ‘stall owners’. Eco Market now has 1,700 ‘stall owners’ and is located in the Tech City region of East London.
Angel backers Penny, Ling and Alaghband join fellow new backers Owen Li of Investcorp and Ivan Mazour of Innova Kapital. Through its 2012 funding round, Eco Market secured investment from a group of angels including: Mary Turner, CEO of Alertme.com and board member at ASOS.com; Giuliano Stiglitz, CEO of Orange Advertising Networks; technology venture investor Kelvin Au; and Robert Barnes, founding member of Alchemy Partners.
More on recent angel fundraisings:
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- Sherry Coutu joins angels at Duedil
Speaking to GrowthBusiness, Patterson explained how he convinced so many angel backers to invest in his start-up.
He says, ‘Two of the investors, Martin Penny and Robert Barnes, I met during my Enterprise Scholarship at Leeds University as they are also Leeds Alumni’s.
‘To meet the other investors I used LinkedIn heavily to contact active angel investors in our sector who I know had invested in similar companies and e-commerce marketplaces or who’s skills and insights would be extremely valuable to have on board – such as Mary Turner who is on the board of ASOS.com, and Elisabeth Ling a former exec at eBay and PayPal.’
‘I asked for introductions from people in my network who know them personally or just emailed them a short introduction and then met for coffee and they got them excited by the business vision and of my own ability to execute the strategy globally.’
Commenting on future development, Patterson says that 30 per cent of Eco Market’s traffic is from the US and Australia – something the business would like to scale this up ‘significantly’.
Penny, who is also a graduate from the University of Leeds and a benefactor to the Enterprise Scholarship Awards, one of which Patterson received in 2009, says that the success of Eco Market shows that even a modest investment, new businesses are able to get off the ground.
He adds, ‘I’m looking forward to working with Liam and Jason to help them and their company achieve their potential to become a global player in the e-commerce market.’