BGF invests £10.5million to send WIFI business global

Gavin Wheeldon

North West-based WiFi and location analytics platform Purple, has received a £10.5 million investment from BGF – one of the largest and most experienced growth capital investors in the UK and Ireland.

Purple was founded in 2012 by Gavin Wheeldon out of frustration for poor guest WiFi connections and has now evolved into a powerful tool for businesses to turn their physical venues into intelligent spaces, with two core offerings: a cloud-based guest WiFi access portal providing detailed business analytics, and digital wayfinding solutions, following the acquisition of US wayfinding business LogicJunction in 2019.

The investment from BGF will support Purple as it looks to expand overseas, including through a recently launched asset tracking platform which enables customers to monitor, track and precisely locate key assets live on an interactive map and, through integration with wayfinding, can alert the client if an asset leaves a pre-set area.

Last year the parent company So Purple Group Ltd made profits of £440,937.

Headquartered in Manchester, Purple has more than 1,000 customers worldwide, including blue-chip corporates and SMEs across a wide range of markets such as hospitality, retail, government, healthcare, banking, and transport.

A serial entrepreneur, this is Wheeldon’s second big business after he sold his first venture, Applied Language Solutions to Capita. After leaving ALS, he set up Purple as an internet service provider, selling its broadband division for £800,000 to entrepreneur Jason Drummond.

Until 2015, Purple was funded by Wheeldon before receiving its first outside investments from of around £5 million from Terry Leahy, Bill Currie, Iain MacDonald, Bob Willett, and Juno Capital.

He famously appeared on TV’s Dragon’s Den when he was promoting ALS but walked away after clashing with the panel on his valuation. He turned down an offer from Duncan Banantyne.

Commenting on the BGF deal, Wheeldon said: “Customer experience has become a key driver across a multitude of sectors in recent years which, in turn, has sparked a wave of digitalisation in order to meet the needs and expectations of end users.

“The rise in indoor location services has rocketed, providing us with the perfect platform to grow our core product offerings. In order to realise our future ambitions, we wanted to partner with a minority investor that was willing to join us on our growth journey by taking a long-term approach to their investment. In BGF, we have found that partner. ”

The deal was led by Pinesh Mehta and Courtney Walker, investors in BGF’s Manchester team.

BGF investor Pinesh Mehta said: “Purple is a highly impressive and fast-growth business that has tapped into a market that is ripe for growth – both domestically and internationally. The team’s appetite for continuous product development perfectly positions them to capitalise on the rise in demand for consumer data and insights, with the entire indoor location services market expected to grow exponentially over the next decade.

Advisors to BGF on the transaction were: Legal – DLA (Andrew Phillips and Alexandra Keane); Tax – Hurst (Adrian Young, Sarah Haley and Sam Ryan); ESG – Apex; Financial Due Diligence – Paul Bosson; Cyber Due Diligence – SureCloud; Commercial Due Diligence – Dean Bubley.

Advisors to Purple were: Corporate Finance – GP Bullhound (Javed Huq, Evgeny Yakovlev and Zeeshan Ali); Legal – Hill Dickinson (James Down, James Redshaw and Abigail Hill; Tax – PwC (Dan Harris and Gill Pooler)

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