£100k investment into one of Birmingham Science Park’s start-up tech companies

Hobzy has secured £100,000 from private investors and Birmingham City Council, delivered via its Finance Birmingham subsidiary.

The Oxygen Accelerator 2011 start-up, based at Birmingham Science Park, will dedicate the cash to help generate 300,000 users for its online hobby platform by July 2013.

Whilst Facebook’s connections are based on friends and family, Hobzy.com’s users upload examples of their hobbies to gain feedback, find inspiration and join a worldwide like-minded community. The revenue generation model for the website has a number of strands, including lead generation, selling advertising and encouraging registered users to buy ‘Hobzy credits’ for featured slots, themes and domain names.  Hobzy.com’s catalyst to generating revenue is reaching the initial 100,000 user milestone. The expectation is for the business to break even within eight months.

The three founders of the company are all 23 years old. Alex Major, from Worcestershire, is an Aston University graduate. Coventry University graduate Dan Rice and Andy Robinson met at school in Sutton Coldfield. Andy Robinson worked with BBC Apprentice 2012 finalist Nick Holzherr, before the three tech specialists were selected onto the Oxygen Accelerator programme with their Hobzy concept.

Andy Povey, Client Relationship Manager at Finance Birmingham said: “Hobzy is a great example of a tech start-up that has created an online platform which is capable of appealing to a mass, worldwide audience.

“We are really impressed that on being selected onto the Oxygen Accelerator programme at Birmingham Science Park in September 2011, Hobzy.com attracted 8,200 registered users in its first week. New user registrations have continued to grow to 15,000, without a marketing campaign being in place. This £100,000 investment will pay for targeted advertising to significantly enhance awareness of the site and ensure a critical mass of registered users are captured within a matter of months. At that point the revenue generation model will kick in, creating a highly sustainable business. It is really rewarding to be able to work with and support such innovative, driven – and local – young entrepreneurs.”

Andy Robinson, Dan Rice and Alex Major - Hobzy.com

Andy Robinson, Dan Rice and Alex Major – Hobzy.com

Dan Rice, Co-founder of Hobzy.com said: “Knitting, crochet, scrapbooking and crafts such as pottery are some of the more popular hobbies being showcased on Hobzy.com currently. However, there are so many untapped markets that we need to target, such as martial arts and other sports.

“We have registered users from over 100 countries worldwide, with the US being our biggest market. We will be targeting a global audience, but we will also be channeling our advertising spend to platforms that target people’s pastimes, such as the e-commerce sites dedicated to selling knitting and crochet yarns.”

Alex Major, Co-founder of Hobzy.com added: “We are incredibly grateful to receive investment at this stage, as we have built a very exciting platform and are all set to embrace a mass market.”

With investment now in place, the plans for further development of the site include integration with platforms such as Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and Etsy. A public Application Programming Interface (API) will be launched later this summer to enable third parties to develop applications that can utilise Hobzy.com’s data and allow the site to grow across other platforms. By mid 2013, a Hobzy app will be launched.

The Oxygen Accelerator programme secured a six per cent stake in Hobzy.com in return for the intensive support and upfront investment the team received over six months at Birmingham Science Park, where the company has chosen to remain to develop its business.

Mark Hales, Founder of Oxygen Accelerator said: “Innovative online concepts which have mass market appeal can become highly valuable businesses in a very short space of time. With the main age group being 25 – 45 year olds, Hobzy.com is very attractive to potential advertisers. This is a great example of what can be achieved when you provide dynamic teams with an intensive, mentor-led programme, supported by industry leaders.

“I am delighted that the Hobzy team is staying at Birmingham Science Park, so that they can be onsite to help to mentor the 2012 cohort of tech start-ups. Teams interested in joining the 2012 Oxygen Accelerator can apply now – the application process closes on 31st July. ”

To apply for Oxygen Accelerator 2012, visit www.oxygenaccelerator.com.