MEIF - Proof of Concept

Award-winning founder leads buy-in at e-commerce platform

A Mercia-backed e-commerce software business has undergone a management buy-in led by an award-winning business leader.

Elizabeth Gooch MBE will now take on the role of CEO of Expandly, the Milton Keynes-based business which allows retailers to sell through multiple online channels. The deal, which also gives the business access to £750,000 to support its further growth, was backed by a group of private investors, as well as the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund which is managed by Mercia and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), and the government’s Future Fund.

Elizabeth was the founder of Stafford-based EG Solutions plc, a back office workforce management software company, which she sold to US company Verint for £26m in 2017. Since then she has been active as an angel investor and advisor to a number of tech start-ups. She began working with Expandly last summer before agreeing to take on a full-time role.

She will be joined at Expandly by her long-term business partner Rodney Baker-Bates as Chair. Working closely with existing COO Gerhard Badenhorst and his team, they are now planning to implement a new growth strategy which will include further enhancing Expandly’s technology as well as increasing customers and revenue.

Founded in 2013, Expandly allows retailers to sell on over 30 different marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon and Etsy using a single platform to manage all their product listings, stock, invoicing and distribution. Customers include a number of retailers and well-known brands implementing direct-to-consumer strategies.

Elizabeth, who was made an MBE in 2012, said: “The pandemic has accelerated the switch to online sales, but to maximise this opportunity retailers need to sell through many different channels. Expandly makes it easy to run all these different ‘stores’ as well as handle the complexities of stock, order management, accounting and VAT rules.  We believe the strategy we have developed will help Expandly achieve its growth potential.”

Mercia first backed Expandly in 2018 as part of a £580,000 round that included investment from MEIF, Mercia’s EIS funds and angel investors.

Sandy Reid, investment director with Mercia, said: “Elizabeth is a driven entrepreneur with a proven track record, having grown her own software business. This deal combines Elizabeth’s knowledge and experience of building a successful software business with that of the Expandly team, who are renowned for their subject matter expertise and first-rate customer service, creating a ‘dream team’ to drive the company forward.”

Ken Cooper, Managing Director at the British Business Bank, said: “This second round of investment, which includes equity finance through the MEIF and Future Fund, will allow the company to implement its new growth strategy and reach more customers. We encourage other Midlands’ businesses to consider the finance available through the MEIF.”

Vicky Hlomuka, SEMLEP’s Growth Hub Manager, added: “Having first engaged with Expandly in 2013, it’s fantastic to see the business continuing to grow and unlock new opportunities almost nine years later. While the past year has been a difficult time for businesses, Expandly’s continued development is a great example of how to maximise opportunities in the changing business landscape.”

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.