Experts invest in 'great technology, data and a sense of humour' at M14 Industries

Experts invest in 'great technology, data and a sense of humour' at M14 Industries

Manchester based tech startup M14 Industries, the firm behind the Bristlr dating app for beard lovers, have successfully closed a six figure funding round with investors praising the firm’s founder for his approach to business.

The Ignite100 accelerator alumni have secured backing from a range of industry experts, and a surprising ‘first-time angel’ in TechNorth head and digital specialist Herb Kim.

Herb said: "I first came across M14 Industries when they pitched at the Thinking Digital Conference in Newcastle, and I've have been following their journey through the Ignite accelerator and the Tech North Northern Stars competition. John Kershaw’s down to earth, “low hype” style earned my respect and trust and I really felt they were onto a winning business model.

“At the Northern Tech Awards I learned that M14 were looking for 1 more investor to complete their round and 24 hours later I’d entered into my first angel investment. I’m elated my first angel investment also happens to be a Northern startup."

M14 Industries has developed technology that powers dating and social interactions, with a specialism in the use of mobile platforms that the more established industry players haven’t focussed on. Put simply, they allow anyone to easily run their own datingsocial app.

The inception product is Bristlr, a niche dating product uniting beard owners with beard lovers, but the firm is now focussed on using that technology to fulfil their mission statement, ‘tech without boundaries’. Their first product for a partner, Koob for book lovers, launched earlier this week.  

M14 currently comprises a team of four, based in Manchester and London, and were chosen by Tech North as one of their Northern Stars; businesses born and bred in the North who are challenging the rest of the world in their specialist fields.

Founder and CEO John Kershaw told BQ he had been careful to raise the funds that they needed to continue development of the product, rather than move straight to much bigger level of investment that they’ll be considering later this year.

Investors in this round include:

  • Jason Stockwood (ex MD match.com, non-exec director of skyscanner & lastminute.com, CEO Simply Business)
  • Herb Kim (head of TechNorth, founder of the Thinking Digital conferences)
  • Doug Scott (PotentialVC)
  • Chris Haslam (IXIS founder)
  • Steve Pankhurst (Friends Reunited founder)
  • Sam Bedford (ex MD match.com)
    • Sam will also join M14 Industries as non-exec director. She told us: "I chose to invest in M14 as it's a solid team, doing innovative and interesting work, and they've got great traction. The dating industry is still struggling to adapt to mobile, and M14's tech is not just solving that specific problem, it's leading the way on others. Fresh faces and new ideas are long overdue in the industry, and I'm happy to be a part of the team."

      Jason told us: "The dating market has moved on significantly since my time at Match.com and our attempt to make online dating socially acceptable. I think the winners of tomorrow are going to be entrepreneurs like John who are focussing on specific customer problems around large niches and solving that with great technology, data and a sense of humour."