Two London entrepreneurs who pivoted their mobile phone charging business into a successful mobile order and pay app and hand sanitiser network as the pandemic hit, generating turnover of £1m in a month, today scored a new win, securing £7m to support the expansion of their hospitality “super app”.
On a mission to lead innovation in the hospitality sector, theUp.co (www.theUp.co), secured investment from high-profile investors such as Jägermeister, former CEO of Monzo, Tom Blomfield and JamJar Investments – the ex-Innocent Smoothie founders fund, in the round led by a leading private global investor.
Founded by Hugo Tilmouth, 26 and Charlie Baron, 27, theUp.co has been upgrading hospitality experiences since 2017, developing new solutions to help consumers order, pay and socialise.
And is the parent company of Europe’s largest phone charging network ChargedUp, venueoperator platform and mobile order and pay app, ServedUp and hand sanitiser station network CleanedUp.
The finance will be invested in fuelling expansion across UK and Europe, new hires and building a new “super app” to launch in 2022 – in a bid to create a one-stop frictionless night out, from start to finish.
Amalgamating all of theUp.co’s learnings to date, the new full service platform will unify ServedUp and ChargedUp – integrating hospitality operators and the consumer, under the original ChargedUp brand.
Using data to tailor every experience, allowing pub-goers to feel like a local wherever they go, it will facilitate discovery, booking, ordering and effortless payment all while keeping your phone charged, to get home safely.
Serving over 35,000+ venues across Europe, the duo hope the fusion of hospitality services and technology will build on its two million users on ServedUp and the one million customers using ChargedUp.
“By unifying all of the brands under ChargedUp, we believe we can empower consumers and the trade through a full suite of digital solutions.” explains Up.co chief executive, Tilmouth.
“Ultimately, we want to make hospitality as frictionless and data driven as e-commerce – think of it like the Amazon GO of hospitality.”
Tilmouth and Baron launched ChargedUp in 2017; a network of 3000 charging points across 50 European cities, letting you rent a mobile charging pack from one destination and return it to another.
Taking inspiration from the successful bike sharing model, ChargedUp grew quickly. Teaming with global leaders in the beverage alcohol industry the brand secured lucrative deals with Greene King, WeWork, Stonegate, and DoubleTree by Hilton as well as inking a five-year deal to provide a network of stations in Europe’s two largest shopping centres, Westfield London and Westfield Stratford.
But as Covid-19 hit, the firm – who received initial backing from Sir John Heggarty’s, The Garage fund and JamJar – nimbly pivoted, turning their mobile charging stations into hand sanitiser bays. Creating a new brand – CleanedUp.
“The businesses were totally different, but at their core they were both venue-based, with our network as the common thread. Getting people on board with this vision and understanding why it was valuable for the company has been instrumental in our success,” continued Tilmouth.
CleanedUp quickly secured major contracts with Transport for London, Costa, Crossrail, DHL and Hello Fresh.
In July 2020, the entrepreneurs partnered with one of the world’s largest producers of spirits and beers, providing sanitiser kits free of charge to pubs and restaurants throughout the UK as part of the trade recovery initiative ‘Raising the Bar’, manufacturing 25,000 units in nine days to help pubs reopen safely.
In 2021, in response to the reopening of pubs and restaurants, the entrepreneurs unveiled another technology offering, ServedUp – an all-in-one EPOS solution combining a rapid mobile order and pay solution with next generation POS and card payment devices, designed to streamline venues to better serve their customers.
Since then, the entrepreneurs have teamed up with a number of global alcoholic beverage manufacturers – including a project to pick up the tab on over 25,000 free gin and tonics all across the country.
“Our success began as a way to help our customers. We thought, how can we do something to help our venues reopen and make sure they’re compliant? Everything we have done to date has been based on this sentiment,” said Tilmouth.
“Based on those initial principles, we’ve grown the business and our network of customers 10x since the start of the pandemic, enabling us to reignite and move at speed with our technology.
“We’ve worked with one in three UK venues thanks to ChargedUp and CleanedUp and are continuing to ramp this up. Our full Epos system is now live and growing at 120% month on month, so we’re looking forward to 2022.
“Our focus is now on ChargedUp and ServedUp, unifying them under the ChargedUp stable through this super app, where we believe we can empower consumers and the on-trade with a full suite of digital solutions.
“With the new all-encompassing app, you’ll be able to discover the best spots; book them; order and pay; earn rewards from some of the world’s biggest beverage brands, all while keeping your phone fully charged while you do it. Making it as frictionless as possible for you to have an amazing day or night out.”
“We’d like to thank Alvarium Capital partners for their support as advisors on this transaction.”
Commenting on the investment, the former CEO of Monzo, Blomfield said: “Bars and restaurants were hit really hard in the pandemic, and some sadly closed. It’s wonderful to see them now reopening, and our cities coming back to life. I’m delighted to be a backer of ChargedUp, a company that’s playing an integral part in that recovery by making it incredibly quick & simple for customers to order and pay. I think Hugo and Charlie are going to build a really special company.”
These sentiments were echoed by Christoph Goeken MD of Best Nights VC, the innovation and investment unit of Mast-Jägermeister SE, added: “We backed ChargedUp to build a digital and physical network in hospitality venues and with the launch of ServedUp the team have taken this further to achieve the best night out experience, with technology at the core”.
The duo hope that the combination of cutting-edge tech and relationships with powerhouse beverage brands will enable them to continue leading innovation within the sector as it recovers, representing a formidable force in the industry.