15th March 2021

4 minutes reading time

Blackfinch and Praetura Ventures invest £2.3M in tech-for-good firm

• Transreport on track to transform rail travel for passengers with mobility restrictions

• Blackfinch bolsters EIS and VCT offering as investment aligns to firm’s environment, social and governance values

• Deal reaffirms Praetura Ventures’ commitment to backing socially responsible businesses   and sees co-founder of Social Chain Dominic McGregor invest as part of the funding round

A socially-minded technology company set to transform the travel experiences of those with reduced mobility has secured £2.3m in a funding round led by Blackfinch and Praetura Ventures.

Transreport, which has offices in London and Glasgow, has designed an app that helps rail passengers with disabilities and mobility restrictions by better enabling rail operators and station staff to respond to booked assistance requests.

The innovative Passenger Assistance tool - which is already being trialled by major rail operators including West Midlands Railway, Northwestern Railway and Govia Thameslink Railway - allows passengers to alert staff to their needs as part of their everyday journeys, making rail travel more accessible and socially inclusive for all.

The progressive technology also means staff can respond effectively to changes in the event of cancellations, delays, platform alterations or missed trains, and is set to transform the travel experiences of those with reduced mobility.

This investment round was led by Reuben Wilcock of Blackfinch and Pete Carway and Louise Chapman of Praetura Ventures. Andy Sumner, portfolio managing director of Praetura Ventures, will join the Transreport board as a non-executive director.

Blackfinch will have invested a total of £1.3m by tax-year-end, and Praetura Ventures has invested £1m as part of the deal, which includes personal investment from Dominic McGregor, co-founder of Social Chain and one of Praetura Ventures’ venture partners. This investment will now allow Transreport to drive expansion, as well as invest in marketing for key products. With the support of the teams at Blackfinch and Praetura Ventures, Transreport also plans to further solidify its multi-modal proposition.

Jay Shen, founder of Transreport, said: “Both Blackfinch and Praetura Ventures instantly recognised what Transreport is trying to achieve: make transport more accessible. Their respective strategic visions for a more equal, equitable and inclusive society aligns completely with our own. Going forward, there is a strong belief that companies which put people and the planet first, will undoubtedly be more profitable. We maintain an ethos of using technology for doing good, and the entire team is greatly looking forward to working with them to help grow Transreport further to maximise its positive impact on as many people as possible.”

Reuben Wilcock, head of ventures at Blackfinch, said: “Transreport’s unique proposition provides a practical solution to an everyday challenge experienced by the rail operators and their customers. The Passenger Assistance tool makes train travel more accessible to those with disabilities and mobility challenges, and that concept perfectly aligns with the Blackfinch Group’s commitment to investing in companies that are making a positive impact on society. The interest that the app has already had from across the industry is indicative of the strong growth and return potential that it offers for investors.”

Pete Carway, investment director at Praetura Ventures, added: “Businesses that drive positive social change have never been so important and Transreport is one of the most exciting businesses in the market. Jay has established a highly experienced, credible and ambitious team and together they have created a model that has huge potential. Not only does the business exist for the sole purpose of making travel more accessible to all people it also improves the quality and inclusivity of the service rail operators can provide.

“Through a deep understanding of the issues facing people with mobility issues, the team has been able to develop a truly revolutionary product that genuinely puts the customer at the heart of the journey and improves accessibility for all. We’re looking forward to working in partnership with Blackfinch to provide the investment and strategic support that will support Transreport as it embarks on the next stage of its growth journey.”

The funds have been secured from Blackfinch’s EIS Ventures Portfolios, which invests in innovative start-up and early-stage technology companies across the UK in a variety of industry sectors, and its Spring Venture Capital Trust (VCT), which invests primarily in companies at the start of their growth journey. It follows a comprehensive rebrand for the Blackfinch Group which last year confirmed its commitment to helping to create a more sustainable world through its own focus on environment, social and governance factors.

Praetura Ventures, the venture capital fund that targets early-stage businesses in high-growth sectors, has invested from its EIS Growth Fund and this deal follows investments in Leeds-based RapidSpike and tech-for-good platform Culture Shift. Its Venture Partner programme is an investment scheme aimed at experienced, connected and successful individuals who have a desire to add value and potentially provide mentorship, advice and investment to the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Shakespeare Martineau and Hill Dickinson provided legal advice to Blackfinch and Praetura Ventures. Transreport was advised by Ignition Law.