Pollen, formerly Verve, closes $60 million in financing
We are excited to continue partnering alongside our portfolio company Pollen (formerly Verve), an invite-only marketplace that makes it easy to invite friends to exclusive experiences and share rewards.
Pollen (formerly Verve) has raised $60m in new financing, bringing their total capital raised to date to $100m, they plan to use the funding to scale their influential membership and more deeply expand their offerings into music, sports, and travel.
We are also pleased to welcome Gareth Jefferies of Northzone and Timo Boldt, CEO and Founder of Gousto, to the board. Sienna Capital joins us alongside existing investors, Backed, and Kindered.
See the full press release below & congratulations to Callum, Liam and the wider team!
Pollen, Formerly Verve, Closes $60 Million in Financing Led by Northzone
Invite-only marketplace that enables people to bring their friends to the best experiences and share rewards raises money to continue funding their global expansion
LONDON, October 24th, 2019 –– Pollen, formerly known as Verve, an invite-only marketplace that enables people to bring their friends to the best experiences and share rewards, has raised $60 million in new financing, bringing the total capital raised to date to $100 million. The raise was led by Northzone and included participation from Sienna Capital, among others, and existing investors including Draper Esprit, Backed and Kindred. Gareth Jefferies of Northzone and Timo Boldt, founder and CEO of Gousto, have joined the board.
The financing will allow Pollen to scale its influential membership base and expand more deeply into music, sports and travel, with plans to move into other experiences and products in the future -- tapping into an increasingly larger share of the $800 billion that 16–28-year-olds spend annually. Pollen’s growing portfolio of travel and music experiences ranges from beach holidays and festivals to city weekends and a broad range of ski packages. To help achieve this goal as part of the funding round Pollen has acquired Lifestylez, the largest college ski and snowboard experience player in North America, deepening Pollen’s reach within the travel industry. The company has strategically leveraged acquisitions across North America to expand the breadth of experiences on the platform.
The founders, brothers Callum and Liam Negus-Fancey, left school at 17 to set up their first business, which sold events and products for young people exclusively through word-of-mouth. That experience made them realise they could create a whole new distribution channel for brands, enabling them to harness the power of word-of-mouth at scale for the first time and access an audience that is notoriously difficult to reach. At the same time it allows young people to discover and enjoy experiences and share rewards such as free tickets, backstage passes, meet & greets and queue jumps with their friends.
The marketplace has 35 thousand active members globally, who have sold 330k experiences since the beginning of the year. Pollen has sold almost one million experiences in total across travel, live events and festivals; it works with 500+ world class brands including Live Nation, MGM Resorts, TAO, Hakkasan, AEG & C3; and secured partnerships with Ticketmaster, Eventbrite, Priceline, Stubhub, and SeeTickets.
”We've known Callum and the team since early 2016 and the company has delivered on every milestone since then.” said Gareth Jefferies, Investment Manager at Northzone, an early investor in Spotify. “The most exciting prospect for me is the potential the company has to play a pivotal role in how brands engage with an entire demographic. In a few years' time, if the company continues to execute, Pollen can become one of the most culturally significant companies for Gen Z, and be the best way of buying not just festival tickets and holidays, but to access all sorts of products and services.”
"Gen Z are looking for fundamentally different ways to engage with brands: community, authenticity & relevance are now top of their list – and the challenge for brands is how they achieve this, at scale,'' said Nicola McClafferty, Investment Director at Draper Esprit. “With the Ambassador marketplace, the team at Pollen have built a stellar product to digitise word of mouth selling and enable young people to connect further with the experiences they love. We have been working alongside the team since 2017 and are delighted to continue to support their ambition and welcome Northzone and Sienna Capital onboard as the company continues to grow. "
“We want Pollen to be the best channel to buy products and experiences,” says Liam, Chief Revenue Officer & Co-Founder. “That’s why we’ve always given rewards that are tied to the experience rather than cash, to ensure it’s an authentic recommendation. We’re focused on what would the world feel like if millions of people used Pollen - it has to be driven by passion.”
“In today’s world, young people want to maximise what they want to do with their life because they’re more aware of the opportunities out there and their own potential.” Says Callum, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder. “Our model will allow members and their friends to discover and access experiences that are usually out of reach and at the same time create an incredibly powerful distribution channel for brands. This funding will allow us to move into more verticals and continue our global expansion”
For more information about Pollen, please visit Pollen.co
Founded in 2014 by brothers Callum and Liam Negus-Fancey, Pollen is a invite-only marketplace that enables people to bring their friends to the best experiences and share rewards. With a presence in more than 20 countries worldwide, Pollen partners with leading travel and entertainment brands, including Insomniac, C3 Presents, Bonnaroo, React Presents, Festival Republic, MGM resorts, Hakkasan, Lollapalooza, World Club Dome, Sonar, Elrow, ESPN, Universal Music Group and Global Radio. The company’s technology integrates directly with major ticketing providers and technology partners around the world, including Ticketmaster, Paylogic, Eventbrite, Front Gate Tickets, Stubhub, SeeTickets and Paylogic.
Northzone is a leading European Venture Capital Fund with offices in London, Stockholm, New York and Oslo. Established in 1996, Northzone has raised 8 funds to date with over €1bn in assets under management. The experienced team partners with ambitious entrepreneurs building category-defining businesses. Northzone has been an early investor in over 130 companies, including Spotify, Avito, iZettle, Klarna, and Stepstone. The fund has an active portfolio of over 50 companies. For more, visit www.northzone.com
About Draper Esprit
Draper Esprit is one of the most active venture capital firms in Europe, developing and investing in disruptive, high growth technology companies. We believe the best entrepreneurs in Europe are capable of building the global businesses of the future. We fuel their growth with long- term capital, access to international networks and decades of experience building businesses. Currently, Draper Esprit is a shareholder in a diverse portfolio of companies including Trustpilot, UiPath, Transferwise, and Graphcore. For more information please visit: www.draperesprit.com
Nicholas Charles Weatherhead
The Supreme Agency