Notpla, Surfaceskins and HyperJar raise secret funding rounds

| Hannah Skingle

Raising equity finance is one of the most popular and important methods of growth for the UK’s most ambitious companies, allowing them to secure the necessary capital to expand their operations and carve out their place in the market. Often, the completion of an equity round is something that companies will want to inform their clients and the media of, but around 70% of equity deals in the UK go unannounced

Beauhurst is the only data provider in the world with comprehensive and structured coverage of unannounced investment deals in the UK. In this post, we look at some of the most interesting companies that have already raised an equity round this year, and chosen to keep it under wraps.

Notpla

Notpla designs waste-free packaging solutions. Its most advanced product is Ooho, a flexible water bottle made of seaweed, which is edible and will biodegrade in weeks if not eaten. The company also develops water and greaseproof liners for cardboard takeaway boxes, which would traditionally be coated with plastic.

Notpla’s primary business model is to lease its local manufacturing machine that produces the seaweed-based packaging on-site, and sell cartridges of materials to co-packers and event organisers. The machine is still in development, and due to be available in 2021.

Spunout from Imperial College London in 2014, Notpla was founded by Innovation Design Engineering students Rodrigo Gonzalez (co-founder and co-CEO), Pierre-Yves Paslier (co-founder and co-CEO) and Guillaume Couche. In April 2017, the company raised a £850k round through crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. In August 2018, Imperial College announced a partnership between Just Eat and Notpla, then trading as Skipping Rocks Lab, delivering sauce packets to customers using the Ooho packaging. 

The latest round of equity finance has seen an additional £2.01m injected into the startup, at a pre-money valuation of £9.19m.

Surfaceskins

Surfaceskins develops antibacterial hand pads for doors to help prevent the spread of bacteria, which are harboured by handles. The pads aren’t designed to clean hands, but aim to break the chain of potential infection and act as a complementary measure to hand washing and gel dispensers. This is especially useful in controlled environments such as food preparation areas and hospital wards. 

The company is a joint venture with Nonwovens Innovation & Research Institute, an organisation that jointly funds the development costs of innovative products and in some cases seeks external funding for products. It seems likely that this partnership was what enabled Surfaceskins to operate for nine years before taking on equity investment in December 2017 – a £183k round with undisclosed investors. A few weeks ago the small team raised again, with a £450k unannounced round at a £4m pre-money valuation.

Door handles can harbour germs

HyperJar

Claiming to be ‘the world’s smartest payments and planning account’, HyperJar operates a challenger bank that makes it easier to budget and manage everyday money. 

Users transfer money into the HyperJar ‘wallet’. From here, money can be allocated into different customisable ‘Jars’, for example groceries, lunch, or clothing. Users can make payments directly from these Jars, by quickly linking the relevant pot to the HyperJar payment card. HyperJar also simplifies group payments by enabling up to 30 people to pay in and out of a shared Jar.

The company has established a number of merchant partnerships, including Shell, Lidl and high-growth florist Bloom and Wild. Users receive awards and offers from these brands, as well as an annual growth rate of 4.8% when they open a dedicated Jar and commit to spending money with them. HyperJar’s business model depends on these merchants, taking a percentage of the transactions made with them (borne by the merchant, not the user) and charging a monthly fee for being featured on the app. 

Led by founder and CEO Mat Megens, HyperJar has raised £6.49m over two equity funding rounds, the most recent of which on 10th January 2020 gave the company a pre-money valuation of £25.8m. The company is currently in stealth mode, and plans to launch more broadly later this year.

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