A new fund is launching in May 2017, called the British Design Fund - this is an early stage investment fund that specifically invests in, and provides support for, early stage UK product design and manufacturing companies. The Fund seeks to work with extraordinary entrepreneurs, with scalable products, who are ready to accelerate growth into the retail space and build long term value and thriving stand-out businesses.
The fund is being launched by product entrepreneur-turned-investor Damon Bonser, who has over 10 years’ experience building design and manufacturing businesses, launching over 400 products into the global retail market.
Directors include John Mathers, VP of BEDA and former CEO of the Design Council, which runs the Spark programme where a number of the initial investee companies are expected to come from, and David Kremer who has over 25 years’ experience running Seven Towns, a multi-million toy and game business, and is a co-founder of Rubik’s Brand Limited.
The focus of the Fund is to invest in UK based early stage consumer and hardware companies that seek to lead the market in provision of innovative product design and manufacturing. The Fund seeks to invest between £25,000 and £150,000 in return for circa 15% to 30% equity. All companies will share the same core route to market; through institutional buyers such as retail chains and international distributors, which plays to the Fund’s strengths of launching brands into the global retail market.
Product expertise and access to networks within retail, product design and manufacturing will be leveraged across the team to drive growth potential. Investee
Companies will receive specific support on:
• market entry
• sales strategy and execution
• intellectual property
• manufacturing and margin control
• cashflow and stock control
We spoke with The Fund’s founder Damon Bonser to find out more:
Why did you launch The British Design Fund?
The UK has the second largest design sector in the world and the largest design industry in Europe. However, there is an astonishing lack of equity funding into early stage product design and hardware businesses. Most product start-ups are relying upon innovation grants and crowdfunding platforms to get their first products off the ground. These are either lacking in commercial focus, or don’t bring any expertise and only deliver cash to businesses that badly need experts alongside the money.
What type of businesses should apply to the British Design Fund?
We are looking to work with businesses that already have a proof of concept or a prototype, understand their market in terms of competitors and routes to market, and are ready to take the next steps towards launching their product. Our team has its roots and strengths in launching consumer products through global retail partners, but we will also consider any product businesses that can prove to us that there is demand for their products in sufficient enough scale to make a healthy return on our investment.
What support are these businesses likely to get from the Fund?
We provide product expertise and access to networks within retail, product design and manufacturing to help the businesses we invest in to accelerate their growth. Investee Companies will receive specific support on market entry, sales strategy and execution, intellectual property, manufacturing and margin control, branding, cashflow and stock control.