Leanne Bonner-Cooke MBE and Colette Wyatt have received funding from Mercia Asset Management, the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Mercia and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, and private investors. The funding will allow them to expand their sales and marketing activities and roll out e-Bate to a wider audience, creating a number of new jobs at their new office in Leicester.
Bonner-Cooke is also founder and Chair of Evolve Holdings Limited, which develops bespoke software. She has won a wide range of business awards and was made an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List in 2017 for her services to women in business. Wyatt, who has 30 years’ experience within the telecoms and IT industries, joined Evolve in 2015 as Chief Technology Officer and has spearheaded the development of e-Bate.
Through their work in building bespoke rebate management software for large companies, they recognised that there was a gap in the market for an affordable off-the-shelf solution. e-Bate is designed for buyers or suppliers which either pay or receive rebates, commissions, bonuses or incentive schemes, in particular those in the pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, consumer goods and construction industries.
The e-Bate platform allows companies to overcome the complexities involved in managing such schemes by automating the process, helping to reduce overheads, manage pricing and increase revenues and profit while ensuring compliance through a full audit trail and comprehensive approval workflows. A key advantage is the ability to implement e-Bate in as little as 16 weeks and it is already being used by companies such as Norbrook Pharmaceuticals, which has rolled it out globally.
Bonner-Cooke says: “Many large corporations have rebate deals between themselves and their suppliers, and on both sides a lot of money is left on the table as rebates are not effectively accounted for or claimed due to poor rebate management. e-Bate solves this problem. These funds will allow us to further commercialise the product and build our team while we continue to develop new features.”
Sandy Reid, Investment Manager at Mercia, says: “e-Bate is an exciting product with a huge potential market and a founder team of exceptional quality. It is also great to see women in tech coming forward for funding and we hope this will encourage others to do so, to help us break barriers and change the landscape once and for all.”
Ken Cooper, MD at British Business Bank, says: “It is great to see companies like e-Bate taking advantage of the funding offered by the Midland Engine Investment Fund. MEIF is backing innovative companies to launch products, create job opportunities and enter new markets. It can provide finance where other funding may not exist and is able to invest across a diverse spectrum of entrepreneurial businesses.”
Kevin Harris, Chair of the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership said: “Innovation is the key to a growing local economy, so I’m delighted that yet another innovative business from Leicestershire has secured significant investment. At the LLEP, we look to sign-post businesses toward the investment they need. It’s fantastic that e-Bate’s founders have managed to link up with Mercia to secure their business for the future.”
Tom Gray of Fraser Brown provided legal advice to Mercia on the investment. The Midlands Engine Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.