New Funding From Praetura Ventures Set To See Manchester AI Start-Up Double Its Team
The corporate team at Irwin Mitchell has advised innovative Manchester based AI start-up Sparkbox on a £1.5m investment that is set to see the firm double its employees ahead of onboarding a range of new clients.
The new funding from Praetura Ventures will see Sparkbox double in size and give the business the power to welcome a selection of new fashion, home and seasonal retailers to its business.
Using the latest AI technology, coupled with in-depth data, Sparkbox is employed by big brand merchandising teams from the likes of River Island and Machesfashion.com to make better stock and pricing decisions.
The system takes the guesswork out of decisions, by allowing retailers to better forecast demand, with the optimising of pricing and promotions reducing both waste and the need for big discounts.
Founded in 2019, Sparkbox has flourished despite the pandemic, by demonstrating tangible value to its clients. A recent trial with a £500m fashion retailer saw Sparkbox improve cash margin on markdowns by 34%, paying back the client’s investment in just 34 days.
Expert Opinion“Sparkbox has made a very big impression in a very short space of time and has already made significant inroads into a fast moving market with its proof of performance seen in the results for its clients.
“The level of experience at the firm all points to an exciting future and it was a pleasure to advise Sparkbox on this investment from Praetura, who have an established reputation for backing the best of new businesses.
“The fact that several of these firms are based in Manchester makes this an exciting time for the commercial sector in the North West. We can boast a high level of successful technology based businesses in the region, which all points to a positive future ahead both locally and for the wider economy.” Adam Kaucher - Partner
Sparkbox was co-founded by Lindsay Fisher, Matthew Wong, and Kevin Blackmore, who was formerly vice president of Customer Insights at Best Buy and retail analytics partner at Accenture.
Colin Greene, former director of US consumer retail for Apple is also joining the Sparkbox board.
The team has 50 years of global retail experience, including work with Arcadia and The Very Group and started Sparkbox after seeing an opportunity to innovate in a sector that still relies heavily on spreadsheets, guess work and gut feelings to make important commercial decisions.
Lindsay Fisher, co-founder of Sparkbox, said: “As a team of former retailers, we’ve seen first-hand how the retail industry is advancing in many areas but falling behind when it comes to making data-driven decisions.
“We know how much potential there is for AI and machine learning to improve profits and reduce waste in retail, and we are thrilled to have Praetura join us on our mission to modernise merchandising and put data behind the important pricing and inventory decisions our users make every day.”
Colin Greene, operational partner at Praetura Ventures, said: "The wider Praetura team are excited to be backing another fantastic Northern tech business and providing more than money support to make Sparkbox a go-to solution for even more household brands."
The deal was managed by Peter Carway and Louise Chapman from the Praetura Ventures investment team, supported by the legal team at Gateley’s Manchester office.