RNS Number : 5070X
Vela Technologies PLC
19 December 2019

19 December 2019

Vela Technologies plc



Update re. WeShop Limited


The Board of Vela (AIM: VELA) is pleased to note the following shareholder update issued today by WeShop Limited ("WeShop"), in relation to terms being agreed for equity and debt financing and a general update.


Vela currently holds 71,429 shares in WeShop (the "WeShop Shares") representing approximately 1.4% of WeShop's share capital. Vela originally subscribed for £100,000 in May 2014 as part of a £1 million seed funding round.


As detailed in Vela's announcement on 3 December 2019, the Board of Vela has been considering how to re-focus its investing activities within the Company's Investing Policy and has determined that this is an appropriate time to consider the partial or full sale of its holding in WeShop and would be interested in discussing the disposal of any or all of its WeShop Shares with any interested parties at a minimum price of 550 pence per WeShop share.

Extracts from the announcement issued by WeShop on 19 December 2019 are copied below:

"The Board of directors are pleased to give shareholders a year-end update with the following highlights:


·      Term sheets signed for a pre-IPO funding round of £2.0m with cornerstone investment of £0.5m by EQUI Capital Partners - a technology investment firm co-founded by Steve Wozniak and Doug Barrowman.

·      IPO planned for Q2 2020 subject to market conditions

·      Paul Ellerbeck formerly of DMGT PLC and LDC, appointed as Chief Executive Officer of the company

·      The company continues to complete its roadmap in anticipation of a global launch in 2020

·      2019 has been a year of progress including key commercial deals with Amazon, Instagram, iTunes and many more to enable WeShop to be largest retail platform in the UK by product count, currently up to 150m which is 15x the size of Google Shopping

·      Social Commerce continues to be undefined by any one platform with largest deal of the year completed between Mail.RU, Alibaba, Megafon and the Russian Direct Investment Fund


Pre IPO Funding


Term sheets have been signed for a pre IPO funding round of £2.0m committed by various parties including a corner stone of £500,000 from EQUI Capital Partners ("EQUI").  The fundraise is a blend of debt and equity with the equity priced at £5.98.  This funding will take the company through to a full product launch and planned IPO on the London markets in H1 2020.


The company is delighted to invite EQUI onto the register and their intention is to be a proactive shareholder.  It is intended that EQUI take a seat on the Board and also have exclusivity over up to 50% of the IPO fundraise in 2020.


Quote from Doug Barrowman, existing shareholder of WeShop:


"As a shareholder of WeShop, I am pleased with the significant progress that has been made with the business positioning itself now for international growth with a truly innovative user acquisition and retention strategy which empowers its users to benefit directly from the financial success of the business."


Paul Ellerbeck appointed as Chief Executive Officer:


Paul has technology and digital product deep within his makeup, having held C Level roles within portfolio groups such as DMGT and LDC he has also worked extensively in the start-up space and has a deep understanding for the consumer ethos. Bringing this start-up spirit and combining it with his extensive knowledge of public markets and M&A protocol Paul is a very well balanced professional to lead WeShop into the public markets.


Paul Ellerbeck, Chief Executive Officer commented:


"Having overseen the technology implementation for WeShop in the last 12 months I am now extremely happy to accept the position of CEO and take on this new challenge to drive the business to a public listing.  For me the social commerce opportunity is very exciting and represents one of the most investable propositions of this decade."


General Summary of 2019 & Market


2019 has been a year of technological progress as the company has continued to build on its extensive platform.  It has also been a year of developing global launch strategies which will lead to aggressive user acquisition, retention and referral whilst at the same time making the commercial model highly profitable and which will make the company attractive in a public markets environment.


The Company has seen a number of companies enter the "social commerce" race during 2019, with the majority focussed on female fashion and paying influencers large amounts of money to try and onboard existing followings.  We watch with interest to see if these platforms can retain their users and get them to transact.


Other existing platforms continue in their attempts to reverse engineer their user experiences by injecting social or e-commerce into them.  Instagram are now allowing users to check out within the platform on a limited amount of brands, pinterest continue to expand their "shoppable content", Facebook marketplace has now moved into selling property and Amazon Spark continues to try and facilitate product discovery as a social platform amongst its products.


The most successful social commerce deal of the year completed on October 9th.  Mail.ru Group (MAIL), the leading internet and IT company in Russia, Alibaba Group (NYSE: BABA), a global digital commerce company, MegaFon, a pan-Russian operator of digital services, and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Russia's sovereign wealth fund, announced the completion of the joint venture transaction to integrate Russia's key consumer internet and e-commerce platforms and launch of a leading social commerce joint venture in Russia and the CIS.


Quote from co-founder and non-executive Chairman of WeShop, Matthew Hammond:


"Globally we are beginning to see social commerce come together as demonstrated by JV's between social networks and e-commerce companies.  I expect to see more joint venture partnerships in this space over the coming years."


 As WeShop continues to monitor closely the Social Commerce market, the company firmly believes there are 5 key building blocks to a successful social commerce platform:


·      Huge choice of products for the consumers - WeShop has up to 9,000 online merchants with up to 150m products across multiple categories including fashion, beauty, travel, sport, food and drink, technology, experiences and many more.


·      Giving consumers price comparison and retailer choice - As a result of WeShop having access to such a large inventory this is achieved


·      A social layer of true recommendation with pictures, videos and text allowing users to promote good products and seek advice from trusted social networks


·      Ability to integrate across existing social platforms where people already have their audiences - WeShop integrates with several platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Pinterest, Twitter, Youtube and many more


·      Safety around users data and also allowing users to share in the financial success of the company via rewards so users, management and shareholders are aligned.


WeShop's mission continues to be about enabling anyone to recommend a product and make it shoppable, based on the key premise that a "word of mouth" recommendation is the most important form of influence on a consumer's purchasing decision. Social commerce, at the most basic level, is based on brands selling through social channels, but in its powerful format, like the WeShop social commerce model, is based on authentic, shoppable user to user recommendations. WeShop digitalises word of mouth marketing, where everyone is an "influencer" in their own right.  The statistics are compelling, as people are 4x more likely to purchase a product that has been recommended by a friend (Nielson).


As with any B2C platform it is crucial to have a clear user acquisition, retention and referral plan.  WeShop have been working on such a plan which scales globally and encourages loyalty and therefore usage of the platform in a very unique way.  The company looks forward to updating shareholders more on this in Q1 2020.


The company would like to take the opportunity to thank those who have supported the company throughout 2019."

For further information, please contact: 

Vela Technologies plc

Tel: +44 (0) 7802 262 443

Brent Fitzpatrick, Non-Executive Chairman

Antony Laiker, Director 


Allenby Capital Limited

(Nominated Adviser)

Tel: +44 (0) 20 3328 5656

Nick Athanas/Asha Chotai


Smaller Company Capital Limited


Tel: +44 (0) 20 3651 2910

Rupert Williams/Jeremy Woodgate


About Vela Technologies 

Vela Technologies (AIM: VELA) is an investing company focused on early stage and pre-IPO long term disruptive technology investments. There are currently 12 investments in the portfolio which either have developed ways of utilising technology or developing technology with a view to disrupting the businesses or sector in which they operate. More recently, Vela Technologies has also started to focus on existing listed companies where valuations may offer additional opportunities.


About WeShop

WeShop is an innovative, digital social network platform focused on the rapidly growing and highly valuable social e-commerce sector forecast to become a US$350 billion market over the mid-term. WeShop's digital platform enhances online shopping experiences by combining social media's assets of reviews, likes, and shares with an engaging retail e-commerce offering, specifically tailored to the individual user. Users benefit from gaining access to thousands of brands and millions of products on one platform plus a two-way sharing of ideas with friends to participate in a rewards system; brands/retailers benefit from increased sales and awareness.


WeShop is led by a highly experienced and proven technology and retail professionals. James Sowerby, CEO, previously led Global New Business Development at Avon Cosmetics, the oldest and one of the most successful global social selling networks, and non-executive Chairman Matthew Hammond, who is Group Managing Director and CFO of mail.ru, one of the largest internet companies in the Russian speaking market.



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