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January 2021

A Bristol-based technology business which manages household bills for students has received vital early-stage investment from Bristol Private Equity Club (BPEC).

Easy Student Living was set up by Elliott Herrod-Taylor in 2017, during his second year at the University of Leeds.

Last year the business rebranded as The Bunch and moved its offices to Bristol’s King Street, where it now employs 11 people and has around 4,000 customers across 30 UK cities.

The £115,000 investment from Bristol Private Equity Club is part of a recent £900,000 fundraising round which will enable The Bunch to expand its range of services.

Elliott, aged 24, who grew up in Marlborough, Wiltshire, said: “More people are renting now than ever before, often living in shared houses well into their 30s.

“As a student I remember the awkward conversations with friends which often arose when it came to paying regular utility bills and that is where the idea for the business came from.

“We have a subscription model costing £10 per person per month. Each person then has individual liability and all household bills are consolidated into one monthly payment, so each housemate can then just pay their share equally without any complications.

“This latest round of investment will allow us to continue on our growth path, moving into the young professional space and launching new products, including a service to help tenants to find new properties before they even begin paying any bills.”

Jerry Barnes, founder director of Bristol Private Equity Club, said: “The Bunch is another example of technology being used to solve a complex, common problem in a simple and cost-effective way.

“Elliott and his team have done remarkably well in a short space of time and we are delighted to have been able to invest in their ongoing success.”

January 2021

A group of successful Bristol-based entrepreneurs has invested £192,500 into a research and development project in the city that is searching for faster diagnosis and treatment of Sepsis, which is the number one cause of death worldwide.

Sixteen members of Bristol Private Equity Club have backed GenomeKey, which is carrying out the pioneering research programme in Bristol. The investment will enable GenomeKey to leverage additional grant funding.

The move will create six new jobs over the next few months as GenomeKey ramps up its work at the Future Space Microbiology Laboratories in Stoke Gifford, Bristol.

Michael Roberts, co-founder and CEO of GenomeKey said: “This local backing is vital for us as it provides match funding for other grant money that will help us solve this global healthcare problem.

“We are developing an automated device that uses Artificial Intelligence for analysis. Our diagnostic device will provide answers within hours, not days. This is important because sepsis kills people very quickly, so faster and targeted treatment can potentially save millions of lives.

“GenomeKey’s device will diagnose bacterial presence using DNA sequencing and novel machine learning to provide clinical results to the clinician within hours. Current techniques that involve growing a culture, can take days and even weeks to provide a result.

“Once perfected our technology will save lives, save money and save our antibiotics for the future when we really need them.

“We expect the research to take between four and five years and this investment brings us closer to securing all the funding needed. Ultimately we expect to develop a benchtop device for hospitals that will replace today’s blood culture.

“We have already interviewed for two of the new positions and will be appointing soon. The project has been moved to a combination of home-working and on-site research in our biohazard safe laboratories.”

One of the investors, Dr Johnathan Matlock, chemist and experienced investor in science projects, will join the project as Board Observer.

Bristol Private Equity Club (BPEC) has now invested around £8 million in local start-up and scale-up businesses since it was founded four years ago and now has over 100 members.

Jerry Barnes, who founded BPEC, said: “Sepsis has been named on more death certificates than Covid-19 in the last year. It is fantastic to see pioneering work being carried out in Bristol that could be exported all over the world.

“We have continued to see strong investment by successful entrepreneurs in the area, backing Bristol ideas and innovation.”

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