Solihull nutritional supplement company CamNutra has raised more than its annual turnover in one week through an ambitious crowdfunding venture to spur its growth.
CamNutra opened its doors to investors via crowdfunding platform Syndicate Room and surpassed its £800,000 investment target in just over seven days.
It plans to use the funding to boost the marketing of its products and to fund clinical trials for new products in the pipeline.
The company, which is based in Cranmore Drive and also has a research facility in Cambridge, produces a range of nutritional supplements covering everything from prostate health to sports recovery.
CamNutra’s Ateronon range currently has products targeting heart health, prostate health, sports recovery and muscle soreness, as well as its much publicised ‘tomato pill’.
The company’s products are sold directly from its own website to subscription customers, as well as through retailers such as Holland & Barrett and Boots and via an expanding network of international distributors.
CamNutra has close links with the University of Cambridge. It develops intellectual property for its products, which are also patented protected. More than £12 million has so far been invested into the development of the Ateronon range.
Speaking to the Post about the company’s decision to go down the crowdfunding route, executive chairman Tim Dye said: “We wanted to raise some money but the amounts we wanted to raise were too small for venture capital funds.
“We raised a bit from angel investors and wanted a bit more so we looked at a few crowdfunding sites.
“I spoke to Syndication Room and what I liked about their offer was that it was investment on exactly the same terms as angels investing in the same round.
“It’s a completely transparent transaction and opens up a whole pool of people who want to invest in our company who wouldn’t invest otherwise.”
CamNutra is a relatively new company founded in 2012. Last year it turnover was in excess of £600,000 and it saw growth of around 34 per cent.
Mr Dye said the company planned to continue its rapid growth trajectory and the latest funding injection would help it do that in a bid to claim a larger share in the UK dietary supplements and vitamins market, which is estimated to be worth £750 million.
He said: “We think we are going to grow strongly next year and the year after.
“A couple of things will be helped by this funding. One of the important things with a business like ours is that we tell customers what products we have got, so there is a bit of marketing to be done.
“Also we are going to be introducing new products and that takes money.
“What is different about our products is that we do clinical trials that show their efficacy.
“For example, our heart health supplement underwent trials art Harvard and Cambridge universities to show it improved cardiovascular health.
“First of all we do the science and we market it carefully - that is expensive.”
Among those who have invested via Syndication Room are some of the company’s own subscription customers, availing of the opportunity to invest as little as £1,000.
Mr Dye admitted he had been surprised at how quickly investors had come on board, enabling CamNutra to quickly hit its £800,000 crowdfunding target.
“It was a great surprise but I am very pleased,” he said. “I previously viewed crowdfunding as something new and didn’t know what it could do.
“The more I have experienced it the more I have realised a crowdfunding platform like Syndication Room fills a gap.
“There are venture capitalists who look for more established businesses and might put in several millions - then there are angels - but there is a gap in between and something like Syndication Room fills it.”
As regards what the future holds for the firm, CamNutra is currently looking at developing additional products using curcumin - the active ingredient in turmeric - which it uses in its sports recovery product.
It is also exploring other uses of lycopene - the key ingredient in its tomato pill.
Mr Dye added: “We are looking at other products involving circumin for brain health. Also lycopene and the possibility that it might prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes - but that is a big claim so there is a lot of research to be done.
“We are also looking at other natural products that we can make bio-available.”