BGF, the most active investor in small and mid-sized companies in the UK, has backed the online wedding company Prezola with a £3 million investment. BGF’s funding will be used to develop mobile app technology – making it even easier for couples to create and share their wedding plans and gift lists online and on the move.
Prezola is the UK’s largest independent wedding gift list company. Launched on Valentine’s Day in 2012 by husband and wife team Dom and Ali Beaven, the business has already sold over 1 million wedding gifts to date. The service allows couples to create stylish, modern wedding gift lists with more than 30,000 products supplied by over 300 retail partners and also incorporate a commission-free honeymoon fund if required. Guests can buy online or by phone and gifts are delivered free of charge directly to the couple.
BGF’s £3 million investment will be used to develop Prezola’s mobile technology and create an all-round user friendly wedding management platform, easily accessible by couples and their guests on mobile apps as well as online. The company’s continued growth strategy will be supported by Dr David Kelly who has been appointed as Chairman. Dr Kelly has a wealth of experience in scaling online businesses and is currently Chairman of Love Home Swap and non-executive director of Holiday Extras, The Gym Group and On the Beach. He has previously been operations director of Amazon.com and COO of lastminute.com and eBay Europe. The investment was led for BGF by Alex Garfitt, Daniel Tapson, Ned Dorbin and James Skade.
Prezola features a curated range of household goods from premium brands such as The White Company, Le Creuset, Jo Malone, Dyson and Habitat. The site also offers more ‘quirky’ gift options including vinyl records, wall art and experiences such as Virgin Balloon Flights. Sales have grown rapidly year on year. There are around 300,000 weddings every year in the UK, with the wedding gift market estimated to be worth £600 million per annum.
Last year Prezola acquired www.gettingmarried.co.uk, the UK’s leading wedding website platform which lets couples create stunning personalised wedding websites with integrated guest management tools, quickly and easily. The Getting Married platform will also be launching an app-based version of the service later this year.
The concept of an online platform enabling users to choose gifts from all of their favourite shops was dreamt up by Dom and Ali, now married for 21 years themselves, following a birthday party for Ali in 2008, where she received some ‘interesting’ present choices. They launched Prezola in 2012, and less than a year later gave up their respective careers as a magazine publisher and interior designer to focus full time on building the company.
From launch in 2012, gift list volumes have grown exponentially and the brand is now well established with strong supplier relationships. Prezola has also launched geo-location pricing and check-out, allowing consumers to view gift lists and make payment in their local currency anywhere in the world. Delivery services have been extended to cover the whole of continental Europe.
Prezola CEO, Dom Beaven, explained: “Prezola’s expansion has been the result of great technology, great brand partnerships and beautifully curated product collections – making the process enjoyable and inspiring for couples and their guests.
Bringing BGF on board gives us access to long-term investment capital and a wide-ranging network of business leaders and like-minded entrepreneurs. We are equally excited to welcome Dr Kelly, who brings years of experience scaling up online companies and their strategies, to our board.”
Alex Garfitt, BGF added: “BGF’s investment will support the growth of Prezola into a mobile-first, full-service wedding gift and guest management platform. We are excited for Dom and Ali, and their management team, as they continue to invest in mobile technology to further strengthen their position in the UK’s increasingly valuable wedding market.”