Edinburgh tech business raises £180,000 from investors as it scales up disability customer service platform

Guide dog owner uses Welcome to be assisted at entrance
Guide dog owner uses Welcome to be assisted at entrance

Edinburgh tech business Neatebox has raised more than £180,000 from investors as it continues to capitalise on the huge market for its Welcome app, which gives businesses and venues advance notice of customers’ disability requirements.

The award-winning business, which was advised in the investment round by Scottish law firm Harper Macleod and angel investor and Neatebox chair Evelyn Simpson, has attracted the funding from business angel syndicate Equity Gap, Scottish Enterprise and a number of private investors. A second tranche of funding will follow later this year, taking the overall investment to around £300,000.

Neatebox founder and Chief Executive Gavin Neate, a former Guide Dog mobility instructor who originally created an app for use at pedestrian crossings before focusing on its potential to solve a fundamental customer service need, said: “There is a massive opportunity to scale up and roll out Welcome to the point where it is omnipresent and it is reassuring that our investors share our ambition to make this a reality. We’re receiving fantastic feedback from both businesses and disabled users wherever it is deployed, and this funding will allow us to really scale the business and reach more venues and hopefully positively enhance the lives of more and more disabled people over the coming months

Disabled people can use Welcome to let services or venues know when they are going to arrive and what kind of extra support they might need. Their phone then alerts the service provider when they book, when they trigger the building’s Geo-Fence and when they arrive at the venue.

Earlier this month the app was introduced to the Scottish Parliament site which joined Edinburgh Airport, Jenners, Double Tree Hilton and Royal Bank of Scotland & NatWest among the prominent early adopters of the Welcome technology. The new funding will allow the business to continue scaling up by growing its marketing, sales and customer support teams, as well as bringing in more software development expertise.

Northlink Ferries are the most recent business to adopt the product, the transport operator introducing Welcome to all of its services.

Meanwhile, the original Button application for pedestrian crossings is still gaining traction and the ambition is for this tech to be integrated in every pedestrian crossing around the world.

Neatebox recently won the Digital Leaders 100 Award for Skills/Inclusion Initiative, and was runner up in the Disability-Smart’s Technology Initiative of the Year where they found themselves in the last three with both Microsoft and Facebook. This year it also finds itself shortlisted in both the 2019 Tech4Good Awards and National Diversity Awards.

Jo Nisbet, Partner at Harper Macleod, said: “We’ve been working with Gavin and the team for many years and have seen the business evolve and almost reach a tipping point where the question seems to be, why wouldn’t you have this technology in your premises? We’re delighted to help them secure this funding package and support Neatebox as it becomes yet another Scottish tech success story.”

Fraser Lusty, Investment Director at Equity Gap, said: “We are delighted to be investing in Neatebox and are excited by both the potential and impact the technology can make. Gavin and his team have gained significant peer and user advocacy and we look forward to working with them as they scale the business.

Kerry Sharp, Head of the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise, said: “Having supported Neatebox from an early stage it is great to see the progress that has been achieved to develop and grow this innovative business improving inclusive access to businesses and services. We look forward to continuing to work with the company, both from an investment perspective and through our account management support, to deliver its growth ambition.”

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