OnePulse Secures £2million Funding for Global Expansion
Real-time Consumer Insights Platform To Grow in central Europe, Russia, Africa, Asia and South America
AUSTIN, TEXAS: 5th May, 2021: OnePulse – the consumer insights platform that turns market research into engaging, real-time conversations between businesses and consumers – has secured £2 million of new funding to fuel further global expansion.
OnePulse, which has head offices in Austin, Texas and London, England, will be expanding its clients’ access to consumers into multiple new markets thanks to investment led by Blackfinch and followed by Nexus Investments. They were advised by PWC throughout the process via the PwC Raise | Ventures programme.
The expansion will enable OnePulse’s rapidly growing international client base – including Coca-Cola, TikTok, Marks & Spencer, Channel 4, Zenith, SC Johnson, Boohoo – to interact in real time with consumers in all key markets.
OnePulse’s intuitive, self-service client platform enables clients to perform bite-sized surveys of up to three questions (“Pulses”) at a time, and to receive instant responses from targeted audiences. For consumers, OnePulse provides a gamified app to give their opinions on news, products, and interests for which they are rewarded with micro-payments. Clients can send targeted follow-up Pulses which allow them to be both agile and thorough in their interactions with consumers. Its innovative subscription models, from pay-as-you-go to unlimited use, makes insight available to people in all departments and to businesses of all sizes.
Currently clients can Pulse consumers in the US, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, China, India, Australia, Canada, and Kenya, soon to be followed by Russia, Mexico, Brazil, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, and Ireland. Additional markets in Africa, Asia and South America will follow.
Mike Billingsley, Group CEO, OnePulse, said: “OnePulse is continuing to redefine the concept of market research with our fun, rewarding mobile app that can be used as part of people’s daily lives.
“There are few things as powerful as insight in the room at all times and with OnePulse, businesses no longer have to rely on gut feelings or out-of-date assumptions to make daily decisions with confidence. And with our global expansion, they can literally have their finger on the global pulse any time, any place, any where.”
Dr Reuben Wilcock, Head of Ventures, Blackfinch, said: “We are delighted to invest in OnePulse, a truly disruptive business, already expanding across several different markets. Mike and his team are now well placed to reach their goals for growth, allowing more brands than ever before to connect to consumers for near-instant market feedback.”
Matthew O’Kane, Managing Director of specialist early-stage Venture Capital investor Nexus Investments, said: “OnePulse traverses two of the four quadrants of Nexus’s investment focus and expertise: Data and Digital. We are big believers in the power and value of “community-generated” data and insights, and very excited to both announce the 14th new member of our Nexus Scale-Up Fund portfolio, and to partner with OnePulse on its next stage of growth, as it develops its activities and communities beyond those currently in the UK, US and Africa, to literally and globally “scale up”.
In addition to the global expansion, OnePulse will continue evolving both the app and client platform to integrate further AI capabilities and enhance the user experience for both clients and communities.
OnePulse offers organisations the ability to instantly communicate with a targeted audience of consumers to gain key business and marketing insight in a matter of hours. By facilitating a conversation with consumers on their terms via an engaging mobile app, OnePulse attracts genuine insight from people going about their daily lives. Founded in 2014, OnePulse now boasts a client list of 300+ brands and agencies worldwide.
London, UK — Cyance, the leading provider of global, third-party intent data, today announced it has secured a new round of additional funding from existing investors — including Blackfinch Ventures and Nexus Investments — in the amount of £860,000. The funding follows a period of significant growth for the start-up company with revenues increasing by 18% and customer value rising by 30% in the past year, in spite of the pandemic.
The company will leverage the funding to continue to grow its internal team, which has already doubled in size over the last 12 months. It will also be used to accelerate the company’s enterprise customer acquisition strategy as it exploits its key strength in the European market. Further investment into the continuous innovation of both Cyance intent data and ABM platform will be a key focus as the business seeks to build increasing value from its ABX approach for global organisations.
With over 55,000 publisher partnerships across Europe, Cyance delivers the most extensive reach for European geographies. Its sophisticated technology uses localised, natural language search to accurately track and identify customer intent. This has been proven to lead to greater conversion and sales efficiency for global sales and marketing teams. Cyance is the only provider to combine fully GDPR-compliant European third-party intent data with a powerful account-based marketing (ABM) solution.
Reuben Wilcock, Head of Ventures at Blackfinch Ventures, commented: “Cyance has transformed account-based marketing by developing and integrating a sophisticated SaaS solution with global, third-party intent data which addresses the needs of the European market. They have demonstrated solid growth from global B2B brands in the last 12 months, despite the challenging times we find ourselves in. We’re excited to continue supporting Cyance as it helps some of the world’s leading companies to transform their demand generation and account-based marketing programs and achieve more efficient ROI.”
Matthew O’Kane, Managing Director of specialist early-stage Venture Capital investor Nexus Investments also commented: “Cyance traverses two of the four areas of Nexus’ investment focus and expertise: Data and Digital. Having been the fourth portfolio investment from our EIS Scale-Up Fund back in early 2019, we are very excited to announce this follow-on investment, which follows two years of promising expansion. We’re also pleased to partner with Cyance and its Management Team on this next stage of growth, as it scales further into and beyond its existing UK and European market expertise.”
Cyance CEO, Bulent Osman, said: “The fact that we’ve seen such solid commercial and financial performance over the past 12 months, despite the tough market conditions, demonstrates the appetite for accurate and localised intent data and the enormous potential within this market. And as businesses start to look beyond the pandemic and the economic recovery gathers pace, we expect demand to increase further. Taking on this new investment allows us to strengthen our team and further invest in our product. We’re now perfectly placed to take advantage of these new opportunities and cement our position as the leading ABM platform with unique intent data for European buyers.”
The need for risk management tools for cyber insurance providers is accelerating due to explosive market growth for this type of policy.
London, UK: DynaRisk today announced an extension of their seed funding round, bringing total funding to over $3m. This round of funding was led by Nexus Investments with participation from existing investors Insurance Capital Partners and Jonathan Marland. The company was originally backed by London based Cylon Lab.
DynaRisk traverses 2 of the 4 areas of Nexus’s investment focus and expertise: Data & Digital says Matthew O’Kane, Managing Director of Nexus Investments. We are very excited to both announce the 12th new member of our Nexus Scale-Up Fund portfolio, and to partner with Dynarisk on its next stage of growth, in particular as it scales into the very promising US Insurtech market.
We are thrilled to welcome Nexus as partners in helping us grow our business in the exciting InsureTech vertical says Andrew Martin, Founder & CEO of DynaRisk. The need for risk management tools for cyber insurance providers is accelerating due to explosive market growth for this type of policy. Elevated hacker activity including ransomware is unfortunately driving a surge in claims which our technology can help to mitigate. Incumbent insurers and brokers need support to stay on top of this fast moving market or risk having their businesses disrupted by newer Cyber MGAs.
This new round of funding will be used for working capital and to start facilitating DynaRisk’s entry into the North American market. With the conclusion of this funding round, Andrew Martin has relocated from London to Toronto in order to lead the company’s expansion in this new market as it looks towards a Series A in 2021.
DynaRisk has built easy to use cyber security risk management tools for SME businesses and consumers. The company’s Breach Defence and Cyber Xpert products help users stay safe from cyber attacks while helping insurers reduce claims, improve client retention and obtain valuable risk data. DynaRisk combines multiple security modules in one place including Dark Web, Vulnerability and Hacker Chatter monitoring with Education and Phishing Simulation learning modules. DynaRisk’s platforms can be white labelled for partners and supports multiple languages. Integrating the business or consumer products is easy with single sign-on and licencing APIs. APIs are also available to query DynaRisk’s gigantic dataset of over 16bn leaked data records and 3m+ hacker chatter mentions.
The solutions are both included with cyber insurance policies and sold without insurance via agents and risk management consultants. DynaRisk works with over 15 clients in 8 markets around the world with over 5,000 users on their platforms.
For more information on DynaRisk’s solutions for insurers for personal or commercial lines or SMEs directly, visit DynaRisk.
About Nexus Investments
Nexus Investments is the specialist venture division of Nexus that is focussed on EIS and Scale-Up companies, clients and investors. It comprises of Nexus Investment Management Limited (“NIML”) and Nexus Investment Ventures Limited (“NIVL”), both of which are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
The division is part of the long established Nexus Group, founded in 1994 and currently manages over £2 billion of assets. Amongst its current activities, the Nexus Group manages the FTSE-250 listed Real Estate Investment Trust (“REIT”) Primary Health Properties Plc (“PHP”). It is also owner of Investor Publishing, a specialist division with publishing, information and events activities serving the Healthcare and Education investment communities globally.
The Nexus Group, and many members of the Fund’s Investment Advisory Committee, have over 25 years of experience starting, backing, advising, scaling and exiting entrepreneurial and private equity backed businesses.
Matthew O’Kane, Managing Director at Nexus Investments shares his personal insight into why cutting edge companies in the Ed Tech, Data, and Health Tech Sectors, supported by EIS, can be such a powerful driver of success, not just for client portfolios but also for businesses, the economy and society at large.
I first came across the concept of the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), back in 2002, whilst I was studying for my ACA exams with PwC. Now almost 20 years later, now a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (FCA) and as Managing Director of the award-nominated Nexus Investments’ Scale-Up Fund, I find that its attractions are more pertinent than ever before.
The purpose of this short case study (number one of two) is to give you an insight into how some of our firm’s EIS portfolio holdings going back to 2013, have been nurtured and achieved real success for investors “on the way out”.
Background to EIS
In simple terms, EIS, and specifically an EIS Fund such as ours, facilitates the ability for private, individual investors who are UK tax resident to be able to support a diversified and actively managed group of burgeoning private companies. These are often ones which are making or attracting positive notices within their sector, for those who know how and where to read the signals, and to spot them; are often cutting edge and still founder-led; and are still “under-the-radar” of the mainstream later-stage “institutional” UK investment scene. Earlier investors know they can potentially access the outstanding later rewards achievable for groups of early shareholders in such companies; but with EIS, can better balance the risks versus rewards of what ultimately is an illiquid and long-term investment class for most people, via a number of “protections” inherent in EIS qualifying companies, as long as they are held for 3 years.
Steps to success
In our view, and our experience this requires a focus on diversification – not too little, and not too much – but also to engage with a knowledgeable, sector-specialist EIS investment manager. One involved at the cutting edge of VC investing, rather than one focussed only on tax-advantages. Ideally, this would be one which also puts “skin-in-the-game” and invests into deals alongside your clients.
The four quadrants approach
Nexus only invests into businesses that fall across one or more of four “quadrants” which we first identified back in 2014 as “themes and essentials of the future”.
Specifically these are Data, Digital, Ed Tech &/or Healthcare.
Our selections are always mission-driven and still with at least one original founder in situ. Invariably they are founded by somebody who was aged 36-45 when they decided to create or follow their vision, often with exceptional academics and or prior entrepreneurial track record, and some fundamental spark that can translate into a global presence for their firm one day (further to some fascinating analysis we have done in-house comparing our 25 or so portfolio to date).
If I was acting in an advice capacity, I would, if possible, be matching my client’s own life interests – or those of their family members, particularly younger ones – with the focus and ethos of an EIS Fund Manager itself. Topics like sustainability, remote learning, distance working and digital healthcare matter to many of the Nexus Group’s c. 100 staff, and matter to the next generations particularly.
Lifting the lid
In early 2014, we led the early SEIS and EIS investment rounds into a Video Library Ed Tech firm called Knowledgemotion. It had been set up by two well-respected media industry folk, in particular one of whom had been involved in the launch way-back-when of the BBC iPlayer. It quickly became apparent that this was a fascinating business which over time came to be led by one particularly impressive individual, who, because his son, being dyslexic, had benefitted from the use of video in the classroom, had as a result a clear vision for how education could be transformed in the classrooms of the world in years to come. This would happen through a better and nimbler appreciation and usage of pre-existing video and television footage, married to algorithmic driven tech, to bring lessons and learning to life.
After three seed rounds, supported by around £1 million worth of predominantly EIS investment capital – and with Nexus a key and core member representing investor shareholders on the Board at this nascent time – by 2016 this young UK business was able to secure material contracts to supply some of the largest global education publishers in the world with their future digital video asset needs. Amongst those who spotted the potential, outside of EIS investors, were noteworthy strategic and very large USbased industry participants – including one of the largest distributors of textbooks in North America.
The business subsequently went on to receive series A investment in both 2017 and 2019, including further EIS and VCT funding totalling a further £8m. By late 2019 the business was now turning over £ multiple millions, and servicing the video assets needs of digital curriculums in some of the largest states in the Middle East, USA and Asia. Around this time, a second noteworthy strategic investor expressed interest to join the business as a shareholder: this time, one of the world’s foremost white board manufacturers, with global presence, particularly in North America and Asia. To facilitate this, early investors were invited in chronological order to consider participation in a partial sale of some of their earliest shares.
Exciting – and exiting
As part of that transaction, those shareholders who elected to dispose of part (but not all) of those shares, were able to realise a return on original investment in the region of 4.7x. With the benefit of the original EIS or in some cases SEIS treatment of their investment bracket, they were able to achieve a post-tax return of as much as 9.4x. Over 6 years this equated to an IRR of c 30% or more. They have all however retained an ongoing interest in a business which continues to grow and win contracts throughout the world. Whilst EIS is often as much about protecting the downside from the likelihood of losers, as it is of riding the winners “tax-free”, the message is that the latter possibility should not be disregarded entirely when contemplating a client’s portfolio. And this is more likely achieved with entrusting client’s money to specialist and expert industry fund managers, who really know their space.
Diversification, not isolation
The above is not an isolated experience: in 2018 and 2019, we also facilitated positive returns on exits or partial exits from two cutting edge Healthcare holdings, one called Pharmacy2U, another called Medopad (now Huma). Both achieved 5x for some of our investors irrespective of tax, both continue to go from strength to strength for those who held.
Matching clients’ interests to clients’ needs
We select real, serious, businesses, scaling-up not just starting-up. They often continue to go on to attract “proper” institutional later-stage capital, as well as strategic investment and trade interest. But it is earlier investors who have most potential for meaningful later gains, and with attendant EIS protections invariably attached.
As examples of what is happening today in our Scale-Up Fund, we are excited that many of our EIS Fund investors (including a number of doctors, and private equity managers) are beneficial shareholders in FundamentalVR and Cyance, to pick just two of the Fund’s current twelve portfolio companies: in their case transforming the fields of surgery training, and usage of “buyer-intent data”, respectively, around the world.
I hope that the above has been useful in showing what a laser-focussed, value-added EIS adviser and fund manager can achieve for investors “on the way out”.
Next month I will look at highlighting “the way in”.
For more information on Nexus Investments Scale-Up Fund and our monthly subscription schedules, click here. Our next completion will be 31 January 2021 to join our current pipeline of deals. For more information on Nexus’s 26-year group history, and to see more of the Ed Tech, Data & Healthcare companies we have backed to date to globally scale-up, click here.
About Matthew O’Kane, Managing director, Nexus Investments
Matt is a tax specialist, Chartered Accountant FCA BPA (ICAEW). and a Chartered Member of the Securities and Investments Institute (MCSI), but also brings commercial awareness and flair to the businesses he invests in and advises.
Since joining Nexus Group from Deloitte in late 2013 to spearhead a new venture focussed division, Matt has sourced a large majority of Nexus Investments’ portfolio, and has invested personally into 18 of them as part of almost £12m deployed in that time. As part of his role, Matt reviews and appraises many of the fastest growing Ed Tech, Health Tech, Data and Digital firms in the UK, and currently sits on the investment committee which selects those to back.
Building on a compelling track record of selection and growth of its EIS portfolio in the first 5 years, the Nexus Investments’ Scale-Up Fund is a an award-nominated Alternative Investment Fund (AIF) which Matthew now heads up. The Fund (at www.scaleupfund.co.uk) already has over £3.7m AUM since late 2018 launch – over doubling since one year ago – and is open for monthly investment from EIS investors (advised or direct) during 2020 and 2021. It focusses on the most promising fastgrowth Data, Digital, Education & Health businesses, and gives a wider-pool of investors a curated and diversified EIS portfolio managed by Nexus. Nexus in particular has access to unique and hard-to-find deal-flow in its chosen sectors, and its track record already suggests that longer-term superior returns for EIS investors may be achievable with appropriate focus on founders and active involvement from experienced industry investors.
The investments referred to in this website are not suitable for all investors. Nexus Investment Management Limited (“NIML”) is not able to give advice to prospective investors about the suitability of the investments. Prospective investors are recommended to seek specialist tax and financial advice before investing in any EIS Fund.
An investment into the Evergreen Investment Scale-Up Fund (“the Fund”) may only be made on the basis of reading in full the information set out in the relevant Information Memorandum.
All potential investors will be required to declare that they fall within the definition of an exempt person as set out in the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Financial Promotion) Order 2005.
When investing in the Fund, your capital is at risk. The value of shares and income from them may go down as well as up and despite the tax relief you may not recover the amount originally invested. An investment in smaller and unquoted companies carries a higher risk than many other forms of investment. Shares in unquoted companies are not readily marketable. You should not invest in an EIS Fund unless you can afford to lose some or all of your capital.
An EIS investment is only appropriate for investors with a medium to long term investment horizon; the timing and extent of realisation cannot be predicted and may extend beyond five years. It is not possible to allow a partial withdrawal of your investment. You may request a total withdrawal, but since many investments made by the Fund will be in unquoted companies, this may not be possible. Withdrawal within three years would lead to repayment of any tax reliefs received.
The tax benefits available depend upon your individual circumstances and these benefits may change dependent upon future legislation.
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