Fund in Focus - The British Design Fund

Introduction

Introducing the British Design Fund 2 – a SEIS focused Fund – and British Design Fund 3 – EIS focused.

Following on from the successful launch of British Design Fund 1 in 2017, both funds will leverage the UK’s position as one of the pre-eminent design centres in Europe and address the lack of dedicated VC/seed investors in this sector, in order to invest in innovative early-stage design-based product businesses. The Fund will work with extraordinary entrepreneurs and their teams to support the best cultures, work ethics, and ultimately, help create thriving stand-out companies. The Management team have the expertise, experience and skill set to help identify and build valuable, innovative, and lasting product businesses.

Background

Building upon the launch of the first British Design Fund in Autumn 2017 and the deployment of investments into five diverse product businesses, these two Funds have been launched in order to accommodate the prolific and ongoing interest and applications that have been received from eligible companies looking for expertise and potential investment.

The Fund’s mission is to help create, invest in and grow companies that build products that people really want and need. In doing this, the Fund will invest in some of the UK’s most exciting product design companies, helping them launch in to market and grow to the next level of their development.

The British Design Fund’s founders bring a wealth of experience across manufacturing, retail, branding, product sales, finance and IP. Their experience of launching, scaling and exiting businesses helps the Fund identify the most attractive investment opportunities as well as the necessary tools to support them on their journey.

Fund Highlights

The first British Design Fund has invested in five early stage UK companies across a wide range of markets including orthopaedic footwear, electrical components, plumbing accessories, school furniture and consumer electronics.

Alongside the provision of financial investment the Fund has enlisted a suite of outstanding industry mentors and it is already clear from the regular investee updates that this support is proving to be of huge advantage.

Videos of the investee companies can be viewed here where they talk about their businesses, their ambitious plans and how the Fund is helping them to achieve their goals.

The British Design Fund has been well received by both the investment community as well as the product and design community and continues to receive a steady flow of high quality applications from early stage product companies looking for funding and support.

Summary of Fund 1 Portfolio

Calla Shoes Limited

Elegant and fashionable shoes for women who suffer from bunions. There are around 10 million women in the UK who suffer from bunions, and a 1/3 of all women living in western countries are afflicted by the condition. The price points range from £85 to £140 (RRP).

Progress; Calla received £75k of funding in November 2017 from the British Design Fund, the funds were invested into development of new product ranges, more digital marketing support, and an increased PR budget. Calla have enjoyed 380% sales growth since working with the British Design Fund, and repeat customers are now accounting for 17% of sales to date, indicating strong customer loyalty and satisfaction with both product and service.

BDF Support; The BDF team have helped Calla to renegotiate terms with their Portuguese shoe factory, helping to “smooth” cash flow, primarily by sharing stock forecasts with the factory and requesting that they sit on a certain level of stock whilst Calla call off smaller more regular orders each month.

Kokoon Technology Limited

Headphones to naturally aid and protect sleep. Kokoon’s Bluetooth, noise cancelling headphones feature an innovation called IntelligentAudio™ which uses sensors (EEG, Motion and Environment) and audio within a feedback loop to monitor, protect, and induce sleep. The price point for the Kokoon Relax headphones is £300 (RRP).

Progress; Kokoon received £150k of funding in November 2017 from the British Design Fund, and have begun to ship the 1st of their £3m pre-orders, and are launching into key retail partners such as Dixons Travel, JLP, and Selfridges. Q1 2018 saw their largest pre order month hitting $200k of pre-sales.

BDF Support; The BDF team have helped Kokoon with non-exclusive sales distribution agreements, design approaches for the next phase of NPD, and how best to structure a design team and which non-critical functions to outsource.

KTech Manufacturing Limited

A wiring solution for the residential market which replaces screws with clamp connectors. This avoids under and over tightening of wires, reducing the risk of overheating and fire, as well as vastly reducing the time needed by electricians to fit terminals. Trade prices are £4.65.

Progress; KTech received £60k of funding in December 2017 to cover product tooling costs. The tool is now complete, contracts for an initial 10,000 units are in place with one of the UKs largest distributors of wiring solutions and the 1st order of 5000 units is shipped in October 2018. The next range of products are also in early design stage.

BDF Support; The BDF team have helped KTech with branding and packaging development along with marketing support plans. BDF facilitated KTech client discussions around shared marketing and ongoing product pipeline.

Echo One Design Limited (t/a NeXgen)

An innovative solution to an old plumbing problem where rubber washers disintegrate causing water leaks when unscrewing. The neXgen Drain Valve solves these issues as it doesn't require a washer or an O Ring to create a water tight seal. Trade prices start at 4.95.

Progress; Echo One Design received £100k funding in May 2018 from the British Design Fund to cover tooling, initial manufacturing setup, marketing and allow the founder to take a salary. The 1st contract with a distributor is now signed, with an opening order of 10,000 units, and tooling is near completion.

BDF Support; The BDF team have helped with negotiating distribution agreements, advising on tooling costs and what QC should be carried out both on the tool manufacturer but also on the tool itself.

IWantAStandingDesk Limited (t/a Eiger Desks)

A range of retro-fitted desks to enable and encourage users to stand, as opposed to sit, at the desk. Core market is primary schools. Price points range from £85 to £190 (RRP).

Progress; IWASD received £100k funding in May 2018 to assist with growing the sales efforts and marketing of the existing EIGER products, with particular emphasis on penetrating the UK school market via specialist marketing agency. Eiger desks are now in more than 50 schools across the UK.

BDF Support; The BDF have helped IWASD with defining KPIs to use with the marketing agency, as well as define a focussed sales strategy around the primary school push. On an operational point, the team at BDF are working with IWASD to put in place account management processes to allow simple follow ups with schools that have already purchased an EIGER product.

If you are interested in further information about The British Design Fund
and future opportunities please contact us on info@kuber.uk.com or +44 (0) 20 7952 6685.