Micro loan from Finance Wales helps app developer secure seven-figure partnership deal

A young Cardiff-based app development company initially backed by Finance Wales has signed a partnership deal with a major European mobile programme solutions provider that will launch its smartphone technology in 120 countries world-wide.

Schoop UK (Schoop) received a £25,000 micro loan from Finance Wales to fund the start-up costs of the Schoop smartphone app launched in January 2014.

Initially designed to improve schools’ ability to communicate and engage with parents the app has already been adopted by 150 UK schools, with another 450 expected to use it by the end of 2014.

Since its launch it has evolved into a communication tool used by charities, churches, public bodies and other organisations, providing updates, reminders and messages for groups and organisations in a number of different languages.

The potential of Schoop’s technology was quickly spotted by the GMPS Group (GMPS), a major provider in European mobile programme solutions based in Germany. GMPS offered Schoop a partnership deal that will see e-fundraising, e-wallets and global payment solutions incorporated into the Schoop app.

As part of the deal GMPS are investing €300,000 (estimated £238,000) of first-round finance into Schoop to develop and build Schoop Global, its international brand, with a further €2 million (estimated £1.59 million) available over the next six months to take the app worldwide.

Founder Paul Smith has been delighted with Schoop’s success to date, he said:

“As a parent, I was frustrated with the text system at my children’s school so I came up with the idea for Schoop. We’ve created a cost-effective app that allows organisations such as schools to inform, involve, engage and reach out to parents and the local community in a safe and controlled manner.”

“Launching the app was a challenge, but the loan from Finance Wales helped us to cover our start-up costs and supported bringing Schoop to market. 

“We are incredibly excited about working with GMPS and integrating e-fundraising and e-wallet payment solutions into the app. Following its global launch we have plans to expand our Cardiff headquarters and recruit 50 new staff before the end of 2014.”

Schoop Global’s first export will be to Australia, where 1,200 schools are to be integrated by the end of the year, with additional territories such as China, Malaysia, Indonesia and the USA to quickly follow.

Commenting on Schoop’s success, Rhiannon Wilkinson, Senior Investment Executive at Finance Wales said:

“Paul and the team at Schoop UK have made impressive progress in six months, which demonstrates that when innovative, commercially viable ideas  receive the right backing early on, they can quickly take off and attract high profile investors.

“Finance Wales is pleased to have provided Schoop UK with start-up capital needed to launch the business. Schoop has the potential to make a big impact globally and securing additional investment from the GMPS Group is a significant achievement.   

"We wish them well with their global launch.”

The app market is estimated to have revenue of $35 billion worldwide in 2014, while the number of smartphone users in the UK is for forecast to pass 40 million by 2016.

Finance Wales’ investment in Schoop came from the £150 million Wales JEREMIE Fund.