Disability app developer to scale with six-figure funding

RBS and Jenners early adopters of app to support disabled customers' needs. Picture: contributed
RBS and Jenners early adopters of app to support disabled customers' needs. Picture: contributed
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An Edinburgh-based tech business has raised a six-figure sum from investors to drive development of its disability service app and expand its team.

Neatebox, whose Welcome app gives businesses and venues advance notice of customers’ disability requirements, has raised more than £180,000 , helping it capitalise on the “huge market” for its product.

Clients currently include Edinburgh Airport, Jenners, DoubleTree by Hilton, and Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest, in addition to the Scottish Parliament site and NorthLink Ferries, both of which have recently rolled out the app.

A second tranche of funding is to follow later this year, boosting the overall cash injection to around £300,000.

The investment will allow the business to keep scaling by growing its marketing, sales and customer support teams, as well as enhancing its software development expertise.

Backers include business angel syndicate Equity Gap, Scottish Enterprise’s investment arm the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB) and a number of private investors.

The start-up was advised in the investment round by Scottish law firm Harper Macleod and angel investor and Neatebox chair Evelyn Simpson, a former chief operating officer at the JP Morgan Chase group.

Neatebox founder and chief executive Gavin Neate, a former guide dog mobility instructor, originally created an app to help people with a mobility or visual impairment to use pedestrian crossings before focusing on the technology’s potential to solve customer service needs.

He said: “There is a massive opportunity to scale up and roll out Welcome, to the point where it is omnipresent and it is reassuring that our investors share our ambition to make this a reality.

“We’re receiving fantastic feedback from both businesses and disabled users wherever it is deployed, and this funding will allow us to really scale the business and reach more venues and hopefully positively enhance the lives of more and more disabled people over the coming months.”

The venture’s original Button application for facilitating safe road-crossings is continuing to gain traction and Neate’s ambition is for the tech to be integrated in every pedestrian crossing in the world.

Jo Nisbet, partner at Harper Macleod, said: “We’ve been working with Gavin and the team for many years and have seen the business evolve and almost reach a tipping point where the question seems to be, why wouldn’t you have this technology in your premises?

“We’re delighted to help them secure this funding package and support Neatebox as it becomes yet another Scottish tech success story.”

Kerry Sharp, head of the SIB, added: “Having supported Neatebox from an early stage, it is great to see the progress that has been achieved to develop and grow this innovative business improving inclusive access to businesses and services.”