Month: July 2014

Smedvig Capital invests in Seedcamp

Smedvig Capital are delighted to announce our investment in Seedcamp, Europe’s leading seed investment and acceleration fund. With a portfolio of over 120 start-up companies, it provides seed money ($25K-$250K), mentorship, office space and support over the life of an early stage start-up.

We are delighted to join the existing group of Venture Capital firms and angel investors who have also invested in the accelerator, and to be involved in such a core area of the start-up community.

Seedcamp co-founder Reshma Sohoni commented, “We are really excited to have Smedvig Capital as investors in Seedcamp. We fundamentally believe more billion dollar businesses from Europe will emerge the more we work together and pull the best investors together. Smedvig’s focus across UK and Nordics around fast growing businesses and their track record means our Seedcamp companies have a proven investor they can learn and raise money from, along with other world class capital.”

Carl Michel joins Vive Unique as Chairman

Vive Unique has appointed Carl Michel as Chairman of the business. Carl has been in the travel industry for nearly two decades, holding leadership roles in the airline, online agency, tour operating and hostelling sectors.

Carl was previously CEO of £500m revenue travel business Holidaybreak. He is also former Product Strategy Director of, and former Commercial Director of British Airways where he helped set up, expand the oneworld alliance and run worldwide sales and marketing, including the launch of the revolutionary flat bed in business class.

Jordan Mayo, a Managing Director at Smedvig Capital commented, “We are delighted to welcome Carl to the board. He brings with him a wealth of experience and expertise in both travel and technology, which will be invaluable to Vive Unique as we work towards their goal of becoming the number one short let and holiday rental provider in London.”

A salary-sacrifice plan driving web firm from bust to boom

Originally posted on

A new green tax inspired Tusker chief David Hosking to re-focus his business, and now he is reaping the rewards

Back in the early 2000s, the business was on its last legs and was just months away from liquidation. A decade later its turnover was £14mn which went on to more than tripled over the next three years. It is now on target to reach close to £100m by the end of 2014. Tusker, a salary sacrifice scheme provider, counts the Airbus, the NHS, National Grid and Gucci among its clients.

With its number of employees growing threefold in as many years and the site recently doubling in size, the business is expanding at a rapid pace. Born out of the .com boom, Tusker was founded in 2000 with the intention of bringing the world of contract hire cars and leasing company cars to online. But by 2003, the business was running at loss of £2m and was “three months away from closing its doors”, according to its current CEO, David Hosking.

“My original brief, along with the then MD, was to see whether the business was worth saving,” he said. “I was given three months to convince the venture capitalists.”

Six months later, another £1m was poured into the business, and by 2006 it broke even. Tusker grew at around 15pc year on year until the recession took hold in 2008.

“That was really when we decided to change the focus of the business,” said Mr Hosking, 44, from Hampshire.

“We saw an opportunity in the market – the salary sacrifice car scheme.”

In April 2008, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling introduced new low benefit in kind tax rates for company cars with a CO2 emission of below 120g per kilometre.

Mr Hosking said: “Basically what that meant was that you could get a company car, if you chose a super low emitting vehicle, and only pay benefit in kind tax on that car of 10pc. So clearly, you can make a significant saving.”

“I am not saying we invented salary sacrifice car schemes,” he admits. “But we made a simple, clever and admin-friendly for companies to access them. And we were there first.”

Launching on October 1, 2008, Tusker emerged as the principle provider of salary sacrifice car schemes for the UK.

“We don’t actually ever see the cars,” Mr Hosking explained. “We convince our customer that they need to give their employees access to the scheme.

“We are responsible for raising awareness among employees about the scheme. We order the car and deliver it.

“Then we take care of the maintenance, servicing, insurance and so on. At the end of the three years, we collect the car and take it straight off to an auction to sell.”

The Watford-based business was given a major boost in 2010 when it secured a three year partnership with NHS North of England Commercial Procurement Collaborative (NOE CPC), which was renewed in 2013 for another four years, and accounts for 25pc of Tusker’s business. In 2010, the turnover was £14m, which grew to £26m in 2011, £46m in 2012 and £61m in 2013. According to Mr Hosking, Tusker is on track to meet its target of close to £100m by the end of the year. Tusker’s latest project is to encourage more of their customers to sign up to electric cars.

“I would love to say it is for ethical reasons – but it is more for commercial viability,” said Mr Hosking, who previously worked in sales at Yellow Pages.

“The benefits in terms of savings are quite substantial. People are choosing electric cars where they see the benefit.”

Tusker’s other campaign is more political: lobbying the government to change the School Teachers’ Pay and Condition Document.

Under the current review, teachers’ salary sacrifices can only be made in exchange for child care vouchers, cycle schemes and mobile phone schemes.

“Teachers are the only profession that are excluded from salary sacrifice car schemes,” Mr Hosking said.

“We have 30 local authority customers, and the first thing they have to do is exclude teachers from the scheme. We are trying to get that changed.”

Mr Hosking has thrown his full weight behind the campaign. He has met with a dozen MPs and a couple of ministers, and has launched a petition for state school teachers to sign in favour of car schemes being included in salary sacrifice options. Despite the company’s massive growth over the past few years, Mr Hosking has no plans to expand beyond the shores of Britain. Global strategy consultants OC&C have predicted that over the next decade, 200,000 new cars will be bought each year on salary sacrifice schemes, accounting for 10pc of the UK new car sales.

“We are definitely going to concentrate on the UK market,” he said. “We want to make sure we are at the forefront of it – we are at the moment and we intend to stay.”

The Smart Cube recently selected as “Highly Commended” in the Best Service Provider category at this year’s prestigious global procurement leaders awards ceremony in London

The Smart Cube, a global professional services firm specializing in custom research and analytics, recently announced that they were “Highly Commended” in the Best Service Provider Category at The Procurement Leaders Awards Ceremony held last month in London at the Hilton Hotel Park Lane. These awards represent the best initiatives, individuals and companies worldwide in the procurement space. At this prestigious event, there were over 850 elite procurement leaders from around the world that came together to network and celebrate their achievements over the past 12 months. For this award, The Smart Cube competed and won against several companies including Accenture, Infosys, BPO Limited, Efficio, HCMWORKS and YQ Purchasing.

With a team of close-to 500 strong globally which provides market-leading custom research and analytics to global corporations and professional services firms, The Smart Cube achieved this award through the hard work, innovation and dedication of their global, dynamic team.

Procurement Leaders Content & Community Director, David Rae commented: “Being chairman of the Awards judging process makes it easy to see why procurement continues to gain greater influence over a growing group of stakeholders – the scale and impact of the projects under review is inspiring. It’s hugely exciting to see so many high-quality entries and it’s a testament to the great work being done by our function.”

“We are very proud to accept this award and it underscores our belief in offering an industry-superior partnering approach with our clients, which helps them achieve their business objectives for optimal profitability and competitiveness,” said Gautam Singh, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Smart Cube. “I want to congratulate my team for their hard work and dedication and we look forward to continuing to power our clients with the actionable insights that help drive their business forward.”

This award comes just a few months after The Smart Cube announced the strong growth and success they are achieving worldwide. For example, the company is proud of their near 90%+ renewal rate, onboarding of 70+ new customers in 2013, global expansion into areas such as China, staff increases of 30+% globally last year and newly enhanced research and service offerings, which is in-step with The Smart Cube’s strong belief in offering highly customized solutions for all its practice areas.