Award-winning audiobook platform xigxag has secured a £500,000 equity investment from the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF), as part of a larger £1m funding round.
The funding round was led by the FSE Group, the appointed fund manager for CIOSIF, and includes a number of private angel investors and a successful crowdfunding campaign on the Seedrs platform.
The funding will enable the company, based in Gunnislake in South East Cornwall, to expand the capacity of its development team and broaden its marketing channels with the recruitment of 17 team members over the next three years.
xigxag was recently voted Best New Business in the 2022 Cornwall Business Awards.
xigxag aims to shape the future of books with the world’s most accessible, engaging and sustainable listen-and-read platform. It has a technologically advanced content platform, powering a market-leading mobile app. AI-enabled technology integrates human-voice-narrated audiobooks and ebooks in an exclusive new format called the x-book®.
Users can listen to a book being read by the author then switch to reading it on their device, picking up the story in the same place and with the added features of being able to see illustrations, search in the text, look up words, take notes and share quotes.
Customers have access to over 40,000 titles from 15 publishers on the xigxag app. Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, Pan Macmillan and Bonnier are among the publishers on board with more in the pipeline and plans for US expansion already underway. The xigxag app has been downloaded over 40,000 times and the company won the Tech Nation Rising Stars award for 2022.
Kelli Fairbrother, CEO at xigxag, commented: “xigxag is riding a massive global audio trend to power an exciting new listen-and-read experience in a space where digital books haven’t really been innovated in decades. Our revolutionary app makes reading more flexible, engaging and accessible, while also providing a far more sustainable alternative to physical book publishing and distribution. Being an eco-conscious company is something we are incredibly proud of and we are delighted to be one of the many Cornish businesses that are facilitating the change to a greener lifestyle.”
Meg Salt, Investment Manager at The FSE Group, added: “xigxag is in an excellent position within a vibrant sector. Their product is easily scalable and presents real scope for accelerated growth in the near future. We were impressed by the team driving the company forward. Management is made up of highly experienced individuals supported by industry-leading advisors who have immense collective knowledge. The business is committed to building the most engaging digital reading app on the market, with the potential to challenge the dominance of physical formats in the £100bn book publishing industry. We look forward to the next chapter of their exciting journey.”
The £40m Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment 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).
Ken Cooper, Managing Director from the British Business Bank said: “This is the fund’s largest deal so far this year and has leveraged significant additional investment from angels and a successful crowdfunding campaign. This package will accelerate xigxag’s growth at a critical time in its evolution, including expansion into the US.”
John Acornley, LEP non-executive director and chair of the CIOSIF Advisory Board, said: “xigxag is another example of a disruptive Cornish tech company using innovation to break new ground in global markets. They are reinventing the digital book concept and giving customers much more flexibility in how they access and enjoy digital content.”
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