Voucher firm sold in deal 'worth millions'
A COMPANY set up by three entrepreneurs in Bristol just over five years ago has been snapped up by mobile phone giant Vodafone in a multi-million-pound deal.
Bedminster-based Vouchercloud, which employs 70 people, specialises in online vouchers. It is now planning an international expansion, which could see it become one of the biggest players in the fast-growing market.
The company was created by Bristol businessmen Scott Davidson, Dougal Templeton and Greg Le Tocq in 2008, after they saw the potential in the smart-phone market.
Vouchercloud specialises in delivering special offers and money-off vouchers direct to people's phones and has enjoyed spectacular growth over the last three years. The arrival of the new generation of phones such as Apple's iPhone has seen the demand explode and it has become a market leader over the past two years.
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Mr Davidson and Mr Templeton were originally involved in a business which offered money-off vouchers for businesses, firms and shops in and around Bristol.
Greg Le Tocq, the managing director of the firm, had a background in marketing and when the three joined forces the concept for Vouchercloud was born, with the firm Invitation Digital Limited formed to oversee the concept.
The idea has been such a success that Vodafone yesterday invested millions to increase its stake in the firm from 21 per cent to a majority shareholding of 57 per cent. Full details of the deal were not revealed but some commentators estimate it values the company at £20 million.
Mr Le Tocq, who turned 30 this month, said: "It has been quite incredible really. We knew that the market for mobile phone applications was going to be big but we didn't realise just how big it would be.
"We were working on mobile phone apps but when the iPhone came along it changed everything, because the technology was in place for what we wanted to do.
"It has just been a really amazing journey and I firmly believe that it is about to get even more exciting. We are launching in Ireland this week and there are plans to move into Spain, Germany, Holland and the Czech Republic.
Scott Davidson was originally a musician who worked with the Pet Shop Boys and then went on to become a serial entrepreneur, founding six media companies. He was chairman of Bristol City Football Club for five years and co-founded one of the UK's leading digital services agencies.
Dougal Templeton, 57, trained as a journalist on newspapers and magazines before founding Bristol's answer to Time Out with the launch of Venue in Bristol in 1992. He then went on to work with Mr Davidson on a number of new businesses including digital agency E3 Media.
Mr Le Tocq said: "I genuinely believe that we are on the verge of something really special and the fact that we have had the backing of a major company like Vodafone says everything.
"When we first started there was just the three of us and now there is a team of 70 working for this company in Bedminster, which is about to become a world leader in its chosen field."
Vodafone Group commercial director Tobin Ireland said: "Mobile couponing is set to grow rapidly across Vodafone's businesses.
"We are looking forward to working more closely with Vouchercloud in future as m-commerce services become ever more central to consumers' daily lives."