MEIF - Proof of Concept

Businesswoman raises further £950k for fintech platform

An award-winning businesswoman whose software platform helps companies to manage rebate and incentive schemes has raised a further £950,000 from investors.

Leanne Bonner-Cooke MBE, who founded the e-Bate platform, secured the money from the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), Mercia’s own EIS funds and the government’s Future Fund.

With the pandemic having boosted demand for the e-Bate platform, the funding will allow the Leicester-based firm to create five new jobs and further increase global sales. This latest funding round is the second investment by MEIF and brings the total raised so far by the company to over £2m.

Rebates and promotional incentives are widely used in sectors such as construction, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods and automotive, where suppliers offer big incentives to buyers to encourage them to buy more of their products. The e-Bate software platform helps companies to manage and simplify these schemes which historically have been complex and calculated manually using spreadsheets.

Leanne, who also founded Leicester’s Evolve-IT Consulting, was awarded an MBE in 2017 for her services to women in business. She explains: “Rebates can make a big difference to the net price paid and some businesses depend on them to achieve profitability. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of managing rebates more effectively. A fall in sales volumes will have affected businesses on both sides and some will be looking to renegotiate contracts, which are no longer commercially viable.  e-Bate offers greater visibility of the process and provides the data insights needed to make better commercial decisions to boost revenue recovery.”

Sandy Reid, Investment Director at Mercia, added: “Over £100 billion of rebates are processed each year in the UK alone and in industries such as food production they are used all along the supply chain. e-Bate is the only product of its type that helps companies to manage such schemes efficiently. Leanne and the team are making great progress even with the economic backdrop of COVID-19.  We are pleased to be able to continue supporting this fast-growing software business.”

Ken Cooper, Managing Director at the British Business Bank, said: “It is great to see companies like e-Bate building on their initial support from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund.  We saw from The Early Assessment Report into the Fund that investee businesses develop greater confidence in raising further external finance and this investment into e-Bate is a good example of that in practice. Having successfully secured further funding, e-Bate will be able to accelerate its growth.”

Kevin Harris, Chair of the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Board of Directors, said:“Financial services are one of our key industries here in Leicester and Leicestershire, so I’m very pleased that the MEIF was able to support a business that is taking an innovative approach to helping businesses manage profitability. The LLEP is committed to supporting our businesses through COVID-19, so it’s great to see such a streamlined solution to rebates that will be of great benefit to the wider business community.”

Tom Gray, partner at Knights PLC, provided legal advice to Mercia.

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.