Criton app platform with logo

How Criton secured investment with our support

Thanks to support from our financial readiness experts, Julie Grieve, managing director of tech company, Criton, secured £5 million private equity funding to develop her hospitality app for international markets.

Pre-investment support, advice and funding from us helped Julie Grieve of Criton attract £5 million of private equity funding in 2017. Now the young Edinburgh technology company is taking the next steps to develop its hospitality app builder and reach out to international markets.

Julie had previously been MD of Abbey Business Centres in Edinburgh, taking the company through to a successful sale to Regus. Following the sale, she moved on to become CEO of Lateral City, a luxury serviced apartment company.

Guests needed knowledge

Julie says, "Making the leap from a business-to-business company to a business-to-consumer model at Lateral City was a really steep learning curve."

It was while she was tackling the challenges of meeting customer's needs that the idea for Criton emerged.

"Early in the Lateral City venture we were preparing guest information books for rooms in our city centre serviced accommodation. It was costly and time consuming to put the material together, and just a couple of weeks later, the local restaurant information was out of date. I felt there must be a better way of providing information for guests and started exploring the idea of an app."

From idea to launch

Several years later, with the desire to start her own business, the moment was right and Julie sold her house in Edinburgh to raise seed funding for the project.

We provided support at several key moments on the journey to launch and grow Criton.

Julie says, "Early on in the run up to launching the company, Scottish Enterprise (SE) provided valuable business advice, helping me flesh out the idea and understand the competitive market place."

Julie Grieve, founder and CEO of Criton

Julie Grieve, founder and CEO of Criton

Finding the team

As a non-developer with a technical problem to solve, it was critical for Julie to find the right people to work with. Initially she looked for a business partner who was a developer, but ended up recruiting instead, with her first developer joining in June 2016.

An early version of the product was launched later that year as a way of testing the market, with immediate interest from companies such as Knight Residence and the Auchrannie Resort on the Isle of Arran.

Developing a world-class product

Julie's idea has matured into a content management system that allows hospitality providers to tailor and maintain content for a guest app, as you would for a website.

"Criton is basically like WordPress for the hospitality app world," she says. "I've started with the hospitality sector because that's what I know and where the idea originated. The approach will be relevant in other sectors too."

Early in 2017 Criton was at a critical point on the journey. The product needed further development to meet the requirements of hotel groups and other large organisations. It also needed multi-lingual functionality for the international market.

Raising finance

In order to develop the product and grow the business, Julie needed to secure investment into the company. This was the point at which she was introduced to our financial readiness experts who helped the company prepare for investment.

Julie says, “Entering into an investor negotiation where you are prepared with all the right documents and you’ve thought through the terms you are looking for makes all the difference. Having a robust financial plan, including different scenarios, provides a solid foundation.”

“The financial readiness team’s input and advice was invaluable as they were able to introduce me to potential investors and provide insight based on wide experience. They also supported me by providing half of the cost of legal and accountant’s fees to prepare for raising the investment.”

Overall, the result was hugely successful. Julie raised £5 million from a private investor in October 2017, enabling the business to grow with solid financial backing.

Innovation award

While all the preparation for financing was happening, Julie also secured an innovation grant from us of £60,000 in November 2016.

"This proved to be excellent timing," she said. "It enabled me to continue to pay salaries and go ahead and recruit the team I needed. It also meant that I could take the time to find the right investor who shared the vision for international expansion that we have at Criton."

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