A FLEDGLING company developing a piece of software that will help change the way people shop is hoping to raise cash from an investor conference this week in London.
Mallzee, which is behind an app described as “the personal shopper in your pocket”, is looking to secure £350,000 in second-round funding in order to roll out the concept.
The app works by asking shoppers to provide details of their clothing preferences and then searches a database from 200 stores to find suitable items for them to buy.
The software has proved popular among UK retailers and chief executive Cally Russell is already looking to the next stage of development by signing up some of the big names in New York, such as Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Russell raised an initial £150,000 in April from business angels, Scottish Enterprise and the University of Edinburgh. Scottish Enterprise provided a further £41,000 in June and the company went on to launch the service at London Fashion Week. The user base has now grown to several thousand.
“The new investment will help scale up customer numbers and build up the number of stores using it to between 250 and 500 by the end of next year,” Russell said.
The typical user is a female aged 17 to 25 and, so far, the service is limited to clothing. Russell said the firm will look to expand into other sectors.
He said an updated version of the app will be released in the next week, providing availability on a wider number of platforms. He is also looking to take on two staff to add to the seven-strong team working from a studio in Edinburgh’s Greenside Place.
Mallzee – a play on shopping mall – will announce its funding plans on Thursday when it will be one of a dozen Scottish companies taking part in Engage, Invest, Exploit (EIE) London, a follow-up to the successful EIE Scotland events run by Informatics Ventures.
The Scottish events showcase university spin-outs and other start-ups to an audience of business angels and other investors.
EIE was established in 2008 and the most recent event – held at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh in May – attracted one of the biggest-ever audiences for this type of conference. Companies are drawn mainly from the information technology, life sciences and energy sectors.
Gordon Stuart, senior executive at Informatics Ventures, said the main aim of adding the London event is to encourage more investment in Scotland’s early stage technology companies. He said: “Technology is something we do really well in Scotland and, compared with other parts of the UK, we have a well-established ecosystem that works.”
Other firms presenting include: Celtic Renewables, which converts the by-products of whisky production into a direct replacement for petrol; UWI Technology, developer of a “traffic-light” time indicator for food use; and Trident Energy, which is commercialising a generator with applications for wave energy, offshore wind farms and unmanned oil and gas platforms.
Informatics Ventures is considering taking Scottish companies to pitch in Europe, Boston and Silicon Valley.