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‘Grumpy’ chairman and property sector experts join University Cribs

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University Cribs, the online student property rental platform, has appointed scale-up expert David Murray-Hundley as its chairman ahead of its second seed funding round.

Murray-Hundley, otherwise known as ‘the Grumpy Entrepreneur’, has extensive experience mentoring start-ups through the scale-up process.  He has been involved with companies across sectors, including Borrow My Doggy, E Fundamentals, Crowdstacker and My Training Passport, and was part of the founding team of Commerce One, the e-commerce company once valued at $22bn.

The Grumpy Entrepreneur was introduced to founders of University Cribs – Jack Jenkins, Daniel Jefferys, and Christian Samuel – through the Digital Dozen accelerator programme.  University Cribs was a finalist on the programme last year, launched by Innovation Point, the company driving development and investment in Wales’ digital economy.

Jenkins said: “David sat on the judging panel when we initially pitched to be a part of Innovation Point’s Digital Dozen accelerator.  We were looking towards our next seed funding round after a promising year, and I think he took a shine to us.  David subsequently mentored us on a one-to-one basis over the following six months on the programme.  As a start-up looking to scale-up, we were facing some serious strategic business decisions during that time.  His experience proved invaluable in helping us make them.

“Since our last fundraise, much of our focus has been on building some solid corporate governance within the business.  We feel David’s appointment as chairman will help us deliver this for our shareholders.  This move will become integral to our transition from a start-up to a structured scale-up business.”

In September 2017, University Cribs secured £450,000 from angel investors in its first seed funding round, two months after the company’s participation in the Digital Dozen accelerator programme.

Jenkins continued: “With our second round of seed funding on the way, we wanted to put a few ‘grey hairs’ on the board – a few been-there-and-done-its – and David felt like a perfect fit to guide us on that journey.”

Murray-Hundley commented: “Working with University Cribs on the Welsh accelerator, I’ve seen how the company has adapted to a challenging and constantly changing market.  This funding round is a positive milestone on their journey, but there are some challenges ahead.  I’m hoping I can use a few grey hairs to help them tackle those proactively. As with any young business, there will be highs and lows to come on the road to success, but I’ll be working with the team to ensure they and the shareholders see the best end result.”

University Cribs is an online student property searching platform, where students can look for homes from trusted providers. The company has experienced significant growth since its inception in 2016, and currently has more than 500,000 users, with 45,000 fully registered. The company is looking to expand its geographic network to university cities and towns in Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland.

Colin Batten, head of partnerships at Innovation Point, said: “We’re here to support the brightest companies in Wales disrupt the digital market.  University Cribs is an exemplar company soaring to success, and we’re proud to have played a part in their story.”

Other appointments to the University Cribs board include Adrian Gill, chief executive of Leaders Romans Group; Bob Crompton, chief executive and founder of Student Housing Company; and Bill Morrow, chairman and founder of Angels Den, who join as board advisers.  Roja Buck, previously head of technology at Just Eat and current chief technical officer at Riverford Organic Farmers, joins as technical adviser.  UNILAD and LADbible founder, Alex Partridge, joins as strategic adviser.

The board members bring a wealth of experience in the property sector.  Gill helped transform Connells into a broad property services group, growing profits from £10m in 2001 to over £100m at their peak.  Crompton helped Student Housing Company grow into a £1bn business over five years.  Partridge’s work in founding two social media mega-influencers will guide University Cribs towards its ambition of becoming the world’s first social property portal.

Innovation Point celebrates its second birthday this month, and is putting the plans together for the 2018 Digital Dozen programme.  Previous success stories from the accelerator include Wealthify, the online investment service, Open Genius, the company behind iMindMap and DropTask, and Disberse, the company that distribute and track international aid funds using blockchain technology.

For more information on Innovation Point and the Digital Dozen visit: www.innovationpoint.uk

Rhys Gregory
Editor of Wales247.co.uk

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