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THE INDEPENDENT – 25 MARCH 2018
March 2018

Investors backing innovative West Country fitness creation.

A West Country firm behind the world’s first floating exercise mat described as ‘this year’s thing’ by fitness experts has attracted investment to help it cope with a surge in orders. Aqua Physical has received £320,000 of fund-ing from Bristol Private Equity Club members as its AquaBase exercise mat takes off in hotels and health clubs around the world.

Aqua Physical is the brainchild of Leila Francis Coleman, who joined forces with Tom Whelan to develop and launch AquaBase in 2014. More than 1,000 trained instructors teach ‘floatfit classes’ worldwide, using the AquaBase board to exercise on water, typically swimming pools. Leila said: “We will be focusing the investment on attracting talented staff, building capability and pushing hard for the next few years’ growth.”

Jerry Barnes of Bristol Private Equity Club said: “Based in Exeter, Aqua Physical are the market leaders and inventors of the world’s first fitness float. It has taken off very quickly online becoming something of an Internet sensation – and hotels are already buying in to the concept. “They provide fun, innovative products that use water to transform fitness routines.

It is a business with an exciting innovative product that needs to grow quickly to take advantage of the current interest and that is where funding like ours can help. “We have put this investment in to help them cope with a surge in orders. Scaling up operations is one of the biggest problems facing new businesses. This funding will see them through the next 18 months as they catch up with the success of their product.”

BRISTOL EVENING POST – 21 MARCH 2018
March 2018

AQUA BUOYED

A FIRM behind the world’s first floating exercise mat has attracted investment from Bristol Private Equity Club. Aqua Physical received £320.000 of funding from club members. Its AquaBase exercise mat takes off in hotels and health clubs around the world Leila Francis Coleman managing director of AquaPhysical. said: ‘We are delighted that Bristol Private Equity Club has invested in AquaPhysical and are looking forward to working together to maintain a leading brand position and build presence in selected markets.

In order to achieve this, we will be focusing the investment on attracting talented staff, building capability and pushing hard for the next few years’ growth.” Jerry Barnes. from Bristol Private Equity Club, said: “Aqua Physical are the market leaders and inventors of the world’s first fitness float.

It has taken off quickly online becoming something of an internet sensation – and hotels are already buy-ing in to the concept. “They provide fun, innovative products that use water to transform fitness routines. It is a business with and exciting innovative product that needs to grow quickly to take advantage of the current interest and that is where funding like ours can help.” BPEC first became aware of Aqua Physical through their fitness director Peter Jowitt, who comes from Bristol. He said ‘We have put this investment in to help them cope with a surge in orders.

Scaling up operations is one of the biggest problems facing new businesses. and this funding will see them through the next 18 months as they catch up with the success of their product” This is the 12th deal Bristol Private Equity Club have signed, bringing their total investment to more than £2million.

On-demand staffing platform for bars and restaurants limbers up for expansion after funding round
March 2018

Limber, the Bristol-based digital platform that makes it easier for bars and restaurants to hire part-time staff, has received a funding boost to accelerate its roll-out.
The platform allows businesses in the food-and-drink sector to fill their shifts at the touch of a button while also enabling them build pools of trusted workers – both critical at a time when a spate of new openings in and around Bristol is creating a shortage of experienced and reliable staff.

It automatically handles everything from signing up to payroll, offering flexibility and ease-of-use to hirers and workers and removing all administrative overheads.
Limber was a member of SETsquared, the global number one tech incubator based in Bristol’s Engine Shed innovation hub.

Now, as it rolls out the platform, it has raised more than £250,000 funding in a round led by the Bristol Private Equity Club (BPEC), which has invested £150,000.
Limber was co-founded by former technology lawyer Chris Sanderson and ex-technology strategist Richard Lees, pictured, who developed the platform alongside their partners JMAN Group.

Chris: “We launched the business in Bristol due to the large saturation of independent businesses here, all of which we thought could benefit from a better alternative for hiring part-time staff.

“There is a real variety of individuals using Limber to mix and match their shifts across the city. Many are students looking for bar and restaurant shifts, but other users include parents who have specific hours they want to work, people on career breaks, creative freelancers or just anyone looking for top-up hours from another job. Basically, Limber is for anyone who wants greater variety and more flexibility in their work life.”

Richard added: “It’s great to be part of Bristol’s burgeoning tech scene. Having raised our first round of funding we’ll be growing our user base and investing heavily in the Limber platform.”

Jerry Barnes of Bristol Private Equity Club said its members – all established business figures in the city – had been “totally bowled” over by Limber.
“It is well-executed and has a very practical and scalable idea in a thriving sector of the market,” he said.

“It is exactly the sort of business that our club looks to support and we believe we can make a real difference, which is why we have invested £150,000.”
Bristol Private Equity Club, which has 48 members, has invested £1.26m in local growth businesses since it was founded in May last year.

The club invests its members’ money in projects needing between £100,000 and £500,000 of equity funding – filling a gap between start-up capital and venture capital funds.

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