Irish-based company Flender has won a funding package including the first investment by the Derry/Londonderry Acorn Angel Group, which included Padraig Canavan, Liam Bradley and Paul McElvaney. Flender is an online platform that creates a marketplace for businesses and individuals in the Republic of Ireland to borrow and lend money safely and at better rates than those offered by the banks.
In a significant development following this investment, Flender was awarded full FCA authorisation to launch in the UK, a market nearly 300 times larger than the Irish Peer-to-Peer market. The Flender UK offering will launch this summer.
Flender is the brainchild of Strabane born Oli Cavanagh and business partners Kris Koik and Jeremy Davies Betancourt. They have secured funding of nearly £1M to develop the opportunity. This marks the first investment by the Acorn Angels group, whose focus is on investing in the North West and who hope to attract more businesses to pitch for investment.
As well as the Acorn Angels, which was facilitated by Halo NI at Catalyst Inc, the funding package includes a number of private investors, including Mark Roden, cofounder of Esat Digifone (sold for over £1Billion) and founder of Ding, the world's largest mobile top-up network. The company is also ‘backed by the crowd’, having reached their £500,000 funding target on crowdfunding platform, Seedrs, in January this year.
Flender enables businesses and consumers to borrow money through their existing networks of friends, family and customers. This market alone is estimated to be worth £2.9bn per annum and it is the aim of company to be first to formalise and automate it.
The platform has just gone live in Ireland and is launching this summer. The company already has many businesses on their flender.ie site seeking a total investment of over €900,000 plus a pipeline of others ready to go onto the platform. Currently the company employs six full time staff. Following the investment and the imminent expansion into the UK market, the plans are to create another 17 posts with a focus in the North West.
Flender’s Co-Founder, Oli Cavanagh, explains: “Flender lets people take advantage of a disruptive marketplace that is seeing triple-digit growth, making access to funds easier and generating better returns for lenders. It is a web and mobile offering that lets borrowers decide the amount they wish to repay over a period that suits them. They are quickly matched with lenders who also get the return they want. Borrowing and lending happens via a smartphone, in a paperless transaction, and with automated payments setup and digital contracts that provide a secure legal framework. It also lets businesses reward their customers by inviting them to participate, and directs the repayments to them rather than to a bank. The knock-on effect of this is increased loyalty from customers.”
Liam Bradley, Acorn Angels, commented: “The ability of the Flender platform to engage lenders from within a business’ own social circles is what the group identified as a real gap in the market. Within an addressable market of over £5.4bn between the UK and Ireland, we believe that the company has an opportunity for massive growth. With our first investment under our belts, we would welcome more companies from the North West applying to the group for investment. ”
Halo is a modern Angel PLUS network that sparks successful connections between investors and entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland and is part of the HBAN network of investors across the island of Ireland. Since 2009, over £12m of private money has been invested in companies with the figure rising to £30m if leveraged investment is included. Halo until April of this year was run on behalf of Invest NI and InterTradeIreland by Catalyst Inc.
About Acorn Angels
Acorn Angels are an informal grouping of investors who are based in the North West of Northern Ireland. Acorn Angels are actively seeking companies from the North West as there is a real desire to help stimulate growth and jobs in the area. The Acorn Angels are open to looking at companies from Proof of Concept to Growth stage and from all sectors. For Acorn Angels contact details please contact firstname.lastname@example.org