Mercia EIS Funds

Mercia Fund Management backs social media duo Crowd Reactive and TorqBak

Mercia Fund Management expands its digital portfolio with investments in social media display developer Crowd Reactive and social media platform TorqBak

Henley-in-Arden, 6 May 2014. Mercia Fund Management (MFM), a leading provider of investment, incubator space and business support services for fast-growing technology companies, has added interactive display developer Crowd Reactive and Twitter marketing and lead generation platform TorqBak to its expanding digital portfolio of investments, investing £150,000 in each company.

Rob Johnson, Investment Associate at Mercia Fund Management, commented on the two investments: “Enterprises with roots in social media offer particularly scalable ventures for private investors. Crowd Reactive is an innovative concept that grabbed the attention of our team with its visually mesmerising and interactive displays and potential for commercial success. Whilst ToqBak’s innovative approach to engaging potential leads, combined with its CEO Nick Sharples’ experience in marketing for major global brands makes TorqBak an exciting addition to Mercia Fund Management’s digital portfolio.

Crowd Reactive creates live social media displays for events of all sizes, such as private parties, festivals, sporting events and brand campaigns. Crowd Reactive uses cutting edge technology to develop entertaining and innovative features for the live screen. The displays are designed to encourage attendees to increase their social media output.

The company’s interactive online portal allows organisers and brands to create customised templates, integrate existing social media accounts and access detailed statistics across a network of social media channels. On-site printing is also available enabling crowds to collect branded printouts from a real-time photo printing station at the event.

Dan Strang, CEO of Crowd Reactive, commented on the deal: “The investment package will be used to accelerate our sales, especially in the United States, where we are looking to establish the company further. We will also be looking to expand the Crowd Reactive concept with a monthly package for bars and nightclubs, as well as develop a new template creator enabling customers to drag and drop elements of a design. As part of our expansion plans we are due to set up a wedding brand called ‘’ to provide a unique service for brides and grooms.”

Crowd Reactive already has a long list of clients based across the globe, including O2, Nike, Ferrari, Clinique, Elle, Moleskine, Twickenham Rugby Stadium and Firefly Music Festival. The company has recently set up a permanent installation at The O2 Arena.

TorqBak, operating in the rapidly growing AdTech segment of the broader digital marketing sector, helps brands to engage with and to monetise those people who are talking about their company and products in social media but are not following the brand’s social media channels. With an estimated 140 million potential qualified leads not being effectively engaged through current marketing routes, TorqBak helps clients to turbocharge their social media lead-generation activity.

Nick Sharples, CEO at TorqBak, has built on his extensive experience in the field of digital marketing and social media from his time as Communications Chief at Sony to bring TorqBak to market. Commenting on the reasons for starting TorqBak he said: “Most brands focus their efforts on marketing to existing Twitter followers, yet they ignore the 140 million or so Twitter users who are tweeting passionately about brands, products or competitors but who have absolutely no desire to become a brand ‘follower’.”

TorqBak’s innovative AudienceKey™ technology precisely targets these potential qualified leads, identifying relevance, sentiment, purchase intent or dissatisfaction with competitors, and matching them to the client’s marketing or lead-generation objectives. TorqBak then presents the leads to the brand in an intuitive dashboard so that marketeer can reply with a personal, timely and relevant offer to the potential lead. With such a tightly targeted offer, TorqBak we can deliver significantly higher engagement and clickthrough rates than most conventional engagement channels.

TorqBak is already being used to help global brands and major charities and also brings benefits to companies in a wide range of vertical sectors such as insurance, utilities, telecoms, gaming, gambling and FMCG.

Sharples concluded: “Mercia Fund Management has a varied portfolio, but it was the investment team’s recent expansion into the digital and e-commerce sector, together with their ability to provide follow-on funding where necessary that attracted us to their offer. Mercia Fund Management provides more than just funding for early stage businesses like ourselves; its mentoring, advice and support services ensure we have the assistance and contacts we need to expand further.”

Mercia Growth Fund 3 is the latest incarnation of the company’s EIS / SEIS hybrid fund. The fund offers initial and follow-on funding to companies with a growing revenue base and highly scalable technology offering at their core with global applications. The tax efficient structure of the fund makes EIS and Seed EIS a compelling investment structure for private investors.

The closing date for Mercia Growth Fund 3 is set at May 2014.