Friday 23 February 2018

Sugru hits €38m valuation after crowdfunding round raises €4m

Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh, the inventor of Sugru, which sold a 14pc stake to new investors
Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh, the inventor of Sugru, which sold a 14pc stake to new investors
Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

Sugru, the mouldable glue company created by Kilkenny woman Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh, has hit a valuation of €38m after raising close to £3m (€4.2m) via crowdfunding.

Highly unusually in a crowdfunding exercise, one sole private investor stumped up £1m.

The London-headquartered company will raise up to £3.6m in this round in exchange for about 14pc equity. It is being orchestrated by British crowdfunding platform Crowdcube.

The round will stay open to investors for another two weeks or until the target is reached, whichever comes first.

Sugru initially planned to raise less than a third of that amount, but opened up to more investment in response to high demand.

Sugru is a patented, dough-like substance designed to fix almost anything. It bonds to most materials and hardens with exposure to air. The company sold €2.3m worth of product in the past year.

It was named by TIME magazine as one of the 50 best inventions in the world and dubbed '21st Century Duct Tape' by Forbes.

Ni Dhulchaointigh began creating it in 2003 while completing an MA in product design at the Royal College of Art in London. Her company will not be raising any more money until at least 2017, she told the Sunday Independent.

The cash will be used to market in the US, add five more people to Sugru's staff of 45 and start looking at industrial applications for the product.

Its main markets are Ireland, Scandinavia and the UK. It is expanding into North America and in April signed a deal with department store company Target.

It is stocked in 5,000 Targets across the US and should be available in 10,000 by the end of the year.

It is also stocked in Lowe's Home Improvements, one of the biggest DIY chains in the US, and is working on a deal with Home Depot.

The company is hiring US staff but has not yet decided whether to open a standalone US office, Ni Dhulchaointigh said.

"Crowdfunding has really matured as a way to raise money," she added.

"The majority of the first million came from our customers, which was huge validation."

She remains the company's single biggest shareholder, though this stake is thought to be less than 50pc.

"Part of the money we have raised will be used to look at how the science behind Sugru can be used for industrial and commercial applications.

"We haven't done much on that side yet as we have been focused on building up the consumer business. But it is on the agenda."

The company is seeking new expertise for its board, she added, and is interested in directors who have experience building consumer goods businesses in the US.

Sunday Indo Business

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