Funding for Cornish online platform supporting hotel sector

A Cornish software developer has secured a £150,000 loan to take its business to the next level with the support of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF).

Caterbook, based in Camelford in North Cornwall, is a cloud-based hotel management platform providing hotel owners and managers with a sophisticated solution for handling bookings, payments and much more.

Business owners, Chris and Sally Noon, gained their expertise in the sector whilst selling a third-party product for over 10 years but, as they became increasingly frustrated by its limited functionality, took the decision to develop their own software solution for the industry.

Their platform automates and simplifies many of the repetitive daily tasks facing hotel managers, whilst providing an interactive dashboard, intuitive reporting and integrated payment system.

The £131,250 CIOSIF loan is complemented by a co-investment of £18,750 from SWIG Finance. The £40m CIOSIF fund provides debt and equity finance from £25,000 to £2 million, to help growing small businesses across the region. It has been established by the British Business Bank in partnership with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and is operated by appointed fund manager, The FSE Group.

Whilst the impact of Covid-19 is undoubtedly taking its toll on the hotel industry across the region and beyond, Chris and Sally believe it will provide an opportunity for managers to review their systems and practices and look to integrate new systems that can help strengthen their position for when we are through this current crisis.

Chris said: “We want the industry to know that we are still here, working hard to provide them with a robust system that can save them time and money. The funding from CIOSIF will allow us to further develop our solution and ensure the platform continues to offer what our clients need. We are grateful to FSE and SWIG for their ongoing support at this challenging time.”

Mike Chapman, business manager at SWIG Finance, who are working with FSE to deliver smaller CIOSIF business loans, adds: “Chris and Sally’s experience in this field is extensive and they have established a good reputation both across the region and nationwide. This helped them secure strong early sales for their impressive platform. We know that the coming months will be

tough but we are here to support them and help ensure their business is in a position of strength when we come through the other side.”

Lloyd Brina, Senior Manager at the British Business Bank, said: “This deal is a good example of a growth business that has created an innovative product but needs extra capital to develop it further and grow sales. We are pleased that CIOSIF is providing important funding to support growth at Caterbook and would encourage similar businesses to consider the options available through the CIOISF to see if it can help fund growth.”

LEP non-executive director John Acornley, who chairs the CIOSIF Advisory Board, said: “Caterbook are part of a growing tech industry in Cornwall and this is the third investment by the fund in a software business, spanning retail, accountancy and now hospitality, and all operating nationwide. Many B&Bs, guest house and hotels are using this time to review their systems, including how they manage bookings.”

CIOSIF is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

For more information about the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund including how to apply, please visit www.ciosif.co.uk or follow the fund on Twitter at @CIOSIFBBB2