Grow Baby Grow - The Ariadne Portfolio and Platform Expands
In 2014, Ariadne has made deals and investments in multiple innovative digital disruptors with high-growth potential. Drawing from a range of industry sectors, all of the companies hold in common that they adhere to the Ecosystem Economics™ approach – organising their respective ecosystems and successfully incentivising stakeholders. This article profiles each of these companies, whom Ariadne Capital look forward to doing further business with in 2015 and beyond.
The following companies have received investments from the Ariadne Fund in 2014. We look forward to helping them grow in 2015!
E-commerce hasn't fundamentally changed in 15 years, but now it is. Amazon, Ebay and other technology firms are aggressively taking market share. Most e-tailers will never become technology firms. But they need the best technology and tools to compete. Taggstar enables e-commerce firms to play a winning hand, and are securing client wins with the biggest names in the industry.
Taggstar designs and creates intelligentSoftware As A Service (SaaS) solutions to improve the quality of information provided to online retail consumers and to convert browsing into buying. Taggstar's software uses data regarding stock amounts and trends in buying to overlay messages on a webpage, encouraging the consumer to purchase with haste. Consumers, online retail firms, and media are all aided by Taggstar's solution.
Ariadne is very positive about Taggstar's progress in 2014 – new money coming into the business, existing Tier 1 clients 'addicted' to Taggstar's technology and now the company is experiencing excellent traction with new sales leads. Ariadne therefore expects a bright 2015!
Crypto-currency protocols like Bitcoin are highly disruptive technologies: Bitcoin's value proposition includes global, peer-to-peer money transfers, nearly anonymous payments, low transfer fees and higher-level security protocols based on open standards allowing for permissionless innovation. As such, Bitcoin has the potential to transform the global financial services industry as a financial protocol as well as a currency. Ariadne Fund spotted and grabbed the opportunity.
The founders of Singapore-based BitX/ Switchless, Marcus Swanepoel and Timothy Stranex were introduced to the Ariadne Fund by Carol Realini , a leading entrepreneur and investor in fintech start-ups based in the valley. They have a smart dual synergistic approach to the Bitcoin market. They launched a B2C emerging markets focused exchange, BitX, with active exchanges in South Africa, Namibia and Kenya. BitX also recently partnered with South African payment provider PayFast to provide the largest emerging Bitcoin market to date, enabling over 30,000 merchants to accept Bitcoin, including one of the largest e-commerce companies in Africa.
They also have a second B2B arm, Switchless, focused on developing a strategy for banks to engage with crypto-currencies. Switchless is the first company in the world that has built a fully-integrated and working Bitcoin system for a large multi-national financial institution in South Africa.
The emerging market crypto-currency opportunity is massive (USD 1 trillion +). Ariadne is convinced that this is exactly where the market traction will grow strongest – high growth countries with large populations where the need for and impact of crypto-currencies are likely to be the biggest and where the barriers for adoption are lower than the developed markets. With the right team and the right strategy, BitX/ Switchless will be playing a key role in the Bitcoin ecosystem.
One missing item in the massive and growing UK finance market has been an equivalent of Mint.com. Money Dashboard, founded in 2010, hopeing to fulfil the gap and provides a smart financial data aggregation service to retail clients, consolidating a single view of all of your financial accounts.
Led by Gavin Littlejohn, Money Dashboard has developed algorithms on all of a user's transaction data to help consumers analyse and understand their own spending patterns, across multiple banking platforms and brands. The business model is generating revenues by harnessing data to offer 'switching services' , whereby Money Dashboard gets paid for funnelling users towards energy, broadband, fixed line and satellite TV packages, loans and other services. Additionally, Money Dashboard has started to monetise its data with a service for Asset Fund managers: based on individual payment transaction anonymously aggregated, Money Dashboard can predict an inflexion in quoted company revenues months before public earnings report.
MoneyDashboard is showing good traction and huge potential. Since January 2014, MoneyDashboard's user base has increased dramatically and its pipeline of Fund managers is growing strongly.
Backing Made TV is a unique opportunity for the Ariadne Fund to build a leading media business connecting local consumers with local businesses. Made TV is the largest holder of local TV licenses in the UK, covering more than 11 million people across 5 stations: Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Teesside and Tyne & Wear. Made TV launched in October 2014, and aims to become the premier source of all local information, entertainment and events across the whole of the UK, connecting businesses and consumers across the UK. Made TV will be the premier provider of all communications for local advertisers to consumers within 5 years. Local licensees are exempt from advertising time limits allowing full length advertorials and any-length ad breaks to be placed. The local advertising market in the UK is worth more than £1.3b per annum. There has never been a solution for local advertisers to use Television until now...
Made TV will be carried on all major platforms including Channel 8 on Freeview and Channel 117 on Sky. These benefits address the lack of distribution which has been the main reason that local television in the UK has not worked in the past. As the largest multi-licence player in the UK, Made TV is perfectly positioned to capitalise on opportunities that the inevitable consolidation of the local TV market will bring, driven by scale economies, in a similar fashion to what has already happened in both the radio and national broadcast markets.
Made TV is led by Jamie Conway, who was Head of Broadcasting for City Channel in Ireland from 2005-2009 and took charge of the acquisition and integration of multiple channels in Central Europe for Liberty Global.
To find out more about our exciting investments, visit Ariadne Capital.