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Sheffield Dot.Com gets boost from The Fund - £500K Investment for innovative technology company

Published: 29th July 2003

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Getting to grips! Clockwise from top, Howard Mee from BHP (on bike), Andrew Risbey from Timeoutdoors.com, Andrew Marsh from Barclays, Nigel Feirn Investment Manager who led the deal and John Warner from BHP (on bike).

South Yorkshire Investment Fund has put its faith in a Sheffield-based technology business by providing a major cash boost of £250,000 as part of a deal worth half a million pounds.

timeoutdoors.com, an outdoor activities website, received the backing from the Fund, whose contribution will be matched by a further £250,000 from Barclays.

Founded in May 2000, the Company aims to become the premier outdoor sports and activities website by providing comprehensive information on how, where and when to participate in a wide range of activities. The website already offers over 1,000 pages of news, features and expert advice on running, cycling, climbing and walking together with listings of events, clubs, and local shops and services. The Company also promotes charity events and has helped to raise nearly £200,000 this year already.

timeoutdoors.com re-located to the South Yorkshire region last year from the Thames Valley with the help of Sheffield First for Investment. The funding proposal was put together with the assistance of the Business Finance & Evaluation team at Barber Harrison & Platt led by John Warner.

The investment will be used primarily to expand the sales & marketing team to spearhead a significant increase in sales, advertising and PR activity by driving traffic levels well above the current level of seven million hits a month. The website will be expanded to cover other outdoor activities such as adventure racing, triathlon and water sports and development work will continue on a number of innovative products to be launched later this year.

Four new team members have already been recruited – including international endurance athlete Anna McCormack as Managing Editor and local fell-running ace Phil Winskill as Clubs & Events Manager. All team members are active in a range of sports and plan to compete in a number of high-profile team events later this year.

Founder and Managing Director of timeoutdoors.com, Andrew Risbey, said: "SYIF have given us a fantastic opportunity to capitalise on the extensive groundwork undertaken over the last three years to establish what I believe will be one of the most dynamic and useful websites in the UK with the best team in the business.

"As a corporate lawyer in my former life, I am used to dealing with professional funders and found SYIF's approach refreshingly down-to-earth and pragmatic. Unlike some investment funds, SYIF seem to have struck a healthy balance between protecting their commercial interests and giving the existing management team sufficient flexibility and autonomy to flourish.

"Given the level of individual decision-making, fund managers clearly have the confidence of their management and as a company committed to high quality standards and empowerment, I can certainly relate to their approach.

"The people at SYIF are also very friendly and helpful - which makes a real difference. We have received a huge amount of support in South Yorkshire in the last 12 months - especially from Sheffield First for Investment who really helped us out with our relocation and who continue to work with us in developing the team.

Nigel Feirn, the SYIF Investment Manager who led the deal, said: "We are delighted to be helping timeoutdoors, who are certainly very focused on making their investment work for them.

"This is a major investment in a relatively young but very ambitious business and one of the largest technology deals SYIF has done. We are committed to seeing the company become a national concern, and we will be supporting Andrew and his team all the way."

The Fund provides development and risk capital ranging from £15k to £1m to businesses in, or prepared to relocate to, South Yorkshire.

It offers two key products, one of which is loans ranging from £15k to £150k with effective annual interest rates from as little as 3% per annum.

The second product is an equity-linked package, ranging from £50k to £1m where the Fund takes a minority stake in the business.

The equity-linked package, is designed for new or existing businesses with potential for rapid expansion. Investments can be made as a mix of ordinary and preference shares or subordinated loan stock.

A unique feature of the way the Fund can help businesses is the Mentorbank project, which provides subsidised mentoring support to help management teams grow the business more profitable.

The Fund's products are designed to support businesses through critical stages of growth. From start through to major expansion, the fund will provide financial support. If a business is looking to start up, invest in new technology or equipment, enter new markets or locate into South Yorkshire it should call South Yorkshire Investment Fund first.

Editor's Notes

About South Yorkshire Investment Fund

South Yorkshire Investment Fund  provided seedcorn, loan and equity linked investments, ranging from £15k to £2.5m, specifically to help small and medium businesses meet the gaps in funding they need for growth and development.

Created as part of the Objective 1 programme, the Fund is a private and public sector business finance provider. The European Regional Development Fund and Yorkshire Forward are investors in the Fund.

South Yorkshire Investment Fund also provided access to Business Angel investments from the Yorkshire Association of Business Angels and Microloans through BiG Business Loan Fund and Donbac Microloan Fund.

Finance Yorkshire has now taken on responsibility for providing gap finance in Yorkshire and the Humber.

For further details please contact Suzanne Tinkler,  on 0845 649 0000.

South Yorkshire Investment Fund Ltd is a company limited by guarantee (Registered No 3936065). South Yorkshire Investment Fund comprises three sub funds, the South Yorkshire Investment Capital Fund, the South Yorkshire Investment Development Fund, which are each managed by YFM Venture Finance Limited, and the South Yorkshire Investment Small Business Fund, which is managed by Finance South Yorkshire Ltd. YFM Venture Finance Limited (Tel 0113 294 5000) and Finance South Yorkshire Ltd (Tel 01709 386 377) are each authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. South Yorkshire Investment Fund also provides a number of services, which are not regulated by The Financial Services Authority. These include the pilot Seedcorn Fund, BiG Business Loan Fund, Mentorbank and access to the Donbac Microloan Fund. BiG Business Loan Fund is managed by Donbac Ltd (company registration No. 01925556) and Key Fund Yorkshire Ltd (Tel 0114 242 8900).