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The Exiteers | Bringing you news of successful exits in the sector

  • By Jason Stockwell
The Exiteers

Details of the fund

Jenson invested in Twizoo in February 2014, via our first SEIS fund. The investment remit of the Jenson Funding Partners (JFP) SEIS is to invest in digital opportunities that can demonstrate a solution or opportunity in any sector. Twizoo did this. When Twizoo first came to JFP, it was to fund full access to the Twitter data, user acquisition marketing and to strengthen the development and sales team, along with launching a beta version of the product and validation of the business model.

JFP’s SEIS was launched in 2012 and raised £5.5 million of investment capital. It invested in 35 companies, of which Twizoo was one. The investment in Twizoo was held from inception in 2014 until the exit in October 2017. At the time JFP did not have an EIS to help with the follow on funding required and therefore Downing and EC1 Capital were bought in to provide additional funding. JFP now has an EIS to provide the follow on funding for existing SEIS investee companies.

What does the company do?

Twizoo is a social content platform that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically discover and display engaging, high-converting social media content. In layman’s terms Twizoo, very cleverly, gathered, filtered and organised information in real time from Twitter feeds. The information being gathered could be targeted at specific themes and Twizoo chose to focus on the restaurant and bar sector.

The company had spotted a market opportunity that gave people looking for places to eat ‘current’ information and opinions on restaurants in their locality. There are up to 7-times more customer ‘review’ Tweets about a restaurant for every single TripAdvisor, Yelp or Google Review – the challenge for Twitter and non-Twitter users was to be able to access this information in a usable format. The app provided a way of accessing this information in a manageable way. Twizoo was developed at the same time that there had been growing criticism of the existing evaluation sites and questions were being raised about the legitimacy of their reviews, and the editing of content by selecting and deletion of postings, questions that Twizoo sought to answer by providing real time content. Their pitch was: ‘To challenge existing review sites by reducing the need for the isolated review content that these sites are dependent on’.

When JFP first saw this investment opportunity it realised that this was an exciting company for a variety of reasons; the model was scalable, with the ability to launch quickly in new areas. Indeed, after starting off in London, Twizoo was able to roll out across other UK cities and then US cities. The team was also planning to take something very complicated and create an intuitive user experience focussed around simplicity and ease of use.

What did the company invest the money in?

The seed capital was used to launch the beta version of the product and validate the business model.

Once this had been achieved, the vision was to expand into other verticals as the technology was considered portable to generate data visualisations within any vertical. The seed investment that was made into the company allowed it to launch the product, enabling them to go forward and raise the EIS capital needed to accelerate the growth strategy.

Madeline Parra, Chief Executive and Co-founder of Twizoo said: ‘As our first investor, the Jenson SEIS & EIS fund gave us the opportunity to prove our proposition to the market and helped to get us on our journey which has now culminated into the acquisition by Skyscanner.’

How much was raised?

The company raised an initial £150,000 SEIS from Jenson. Given that at this point the Jenson focus was on SEIS investments Twizoo raised EIS capital, which was provided by an EIS fund which also bought a venture capital fund alongside. During this time, Twizoo morphed from a content-driven company to a data-collector company. The data collated from Twitter was of a quality that enabled their ultimate purchaser to add valuable information to their clients’ decision making when booking holidays or trips abroad.

How was the exit achieved?

The transition from the app-based model to a data-collector proved successful and several large customers were signed up. This ultimately proved that booking conversion rates could be raised by single digit percentages, creating a significant increase in revenues on the large volumes that go through travel sites.

Skyscanner saw Twizoo as a tool to help Skyscanner share direct, honest and transparent information with its customers.

The exit was achieved by way of a trade sale. 100% of the shareholdings of Twizoo have been acquired by Skyscanner.

How much was returned to investors?

The terms of the deal are confidential; therefore we are unable to give any information on the actual figures involved. However, we can confirm that the investors received a significant uplift on their original investment.

What other benefits has the company provided?

Twizoo’s technology used ‘social listening’ via twitter to develop user-generated recommendations giving it users an unbiased review of an experience. The company has grown from the two founders to a team of six and has now integrated with the larger Skyscanner team.

How will you continue to support the company?

This is a 100% acquisition of the company and we therefore are no longer part of the decision-making process although we continue to watch the company’s progress with interest.

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