Angel investment helps Cambridge company reach Premier League clubs

A small business from Cambridge has signed major supply deals with a number of the Premier League’s top football clubs, thanks to investment from a group of angel investors.

Comberton-based MotivatEd will re-launch ‘Footee’ an online education game for children – in July, thanks to new angel investment totalling £300,000. Seven angel investors, secured with help from St John’s Innovation Centre, have leveraged their contacts in the sports industry to help MotivatEd sign supply deals with many of the UK’s best known football clubs.

An online game that allows children to represent their favourite football club, Footee sees children win ‘points’ by completing games that develop skills in maths, literacy, science, geography and history. Footee awards bonus points to kids partaking in physical activities including extra-curricular clubs and sports teams. Points can be exchanged for star players as children build their fantasy football teams to compete against friends online.

A number of Premier League clubs have signed exclusive deals to host Footee on their websites when the new season kicks off. With the English Football Association and a total of 17 professional UK teams backing the project so far, MotivatEd expects one million children to be signed-up to Footee by 2012.

Phil Clegg, an ex-teacher and now Managing Director of MotivatEd, said:

“Footee leverages the combined appeal of football and gaming to motivate 7-14 year olds in learning the National Curriculum and healthy living skills.”

Footee was first launched in the year 2000. Its widespread appeal saw ¼ million children sign-up within 6 months and ranked in the top 5 children’s websites alongside the Cartoon Network with 7 million page impressions. However, the website closed when its parent company, Premium TV, went into receivership. Having masterminded the software at Premium TV, Phil Clegg recognised the potential for resurrecting and enhancing Footee. In 2004, Phil purchased the rights to Footee through his own business, MotivatEd.

Like many early-stage businesses, MotivatEd required a significant injection of funds to develop the software, build a 10-strong team and take the product back to market. To help secure this critical funding, Phil Clegg enrolled on the Understanding Finance for Business programme in May 2010.

Delivered by St John’s Innovation Centre on behalf of EEDA, Understanding Finance for Business sees a dynamic team of entrepreneurs, experienced investors and former bankers helping local businesses secure the funding they need to start and grow.

“Fundraising expertise was not an area of strength for MotivatEd before we worked with St John’s Innovation Centre,” explains Phil Clegg. “The Understanding Finance for Business programme helped us to understand the vast number of options available to us, to cut through the jargon and target funding streams that worked best for us.

“By targeting angel investment, we got a combination of funding and hands-on, experienced investors who have bolstered our management team and opened doors to new markets through their vast contact books.”

As part of the Understanding Finance for Business programme, Phil and his team had the opportunity to pitch their business proposition to a panel of experienced, but ‘friendly’ investors.

“Practising our pitch for funding was an invaluable experience. Feedback from the panel enabled us to hone both our business plan and its presentation. This learning curve proved to be exceptionally helpful as we took this experience into the boardroom just a few weeks later to secure seven angel investors for MotivatEd.”

MotivatEd worked alongside mentor, Martin Rigby – founder and managing director of ET Capital, and a venture capital investor for over 20 years. Martin Rigby said:

“Our role in helping businesses raise £10 million is testament to the success of this programme. We look forward to helping many more entrepreneurs over the coming months to secure finance and unlock their potential.”