Don't invest unless you're prepared to lose all the money you invest. This is a high-risk investment and you are unlikely to be protected if something goes wrong.
Risk Summary

Estimated reading time: 2 min

Due to the potential for losses, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) considers this investment to be high risk.

What are the key risks?

  • You could lose all the money you invest
  • Most investments are shares in start-up businesses or bonds issued by them. Investors in these shares or bonds often lose 100% of the money they invested, as most start-up businesses fail.
  • Checks on the businesses you are investing in, such as how well they are expected to perform, may not have been carried out by the platform you are investing through. You should do your own research before investing.

You won't get your money back quickly

  • Even if the business you invest in is successful, it will likely take several years to get your money back.
  • The most likely way to get your money back is if the business is bought by another business or lists its shares on an exchange such as the London Stock Exchange. These events are not common.
  • Start-up businesses very rarely pay you back through dividends. You should not expect to get your money back this way.
  • Some platforms may give you the opportunity to sell your investment early through a 'secondary market' or 'bulletin board', but there is no guarantee you will find a buyer at the price you are willing to sell.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket

  • Putting all your money into a single business or type of investment for example, is risky. Spreading your money across different investments makes you less dependent on any one to do well. A good rule of thumb is not to invest more than 10% of your money in high-risk investments. Learn more here.

The value of your investment can be reduced

  • If your investment is shares, the percentage of the business that you own will decrease if the business issues more shares. This could mean that the value of your investment reduces, depending on how much the business grows. Most start-up businesses issue multiple rounds of shares.
  • These new shares could have additional rights that your shares don't have, such as the right to receive a fixed dividend, which could further reduce your chances of getting a return on your investment.

You are unlikely to be protected if something goes wrong

  • Protection from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), in relation to claims against failed regulated firms, does not cover poor investment performance. Try the FSCS investment protection checker.
  • Protection from the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) does not cover poor investment performance. If you have a complaint against an FCA-regulated platform, FOS may be able to consider it. Learn more about FOS protection here.

If you are interested in learning more about how to protect yourself, visit the FCA's website here.

For further information about investment-based crowdfunding, visit the crowdfunding section of the FCA's website here.

For Millie v1
Portfolio News

Developing a digital strategy for zoos: a case study with Northumberland Zoo

Like many zoos, Northumberland Zoo had developed a digital presence both before and during the pandemic, but in autumn of 2021 felt it was the right time to reassess their on-site digital engagement strategy.

Part of their digital strategy included the deployment of a solution that gave them the flexibility required to enhance the visitor experience both on and off site and before, during and after a visit.

In choosing this route they considered exploring three options:

    1. Commission a digital agency to build a bespoke solution from the ground up to their own specifications
    2. Recruit developer expertise in-house to build the solution
    3. Identify a customisable software solution that they could easily adopt

Considering their operational structure, resources, and expertise, options 1 and 2 were not viable considerations.

In identifying suppliers of a customisable, yet out of the box solution, they felt they had the best chance to shape the product to their specific needs and that of the sector whilst making it affordable.

This led Northumberland Zoo to


The problem Northumberland Zoo was facing

The team at Northumberland Zoo understood the importance of embracing digital technology to complement their physical on-site experience. Over recent years they’d been particularly pro-active across social media channels building a significant global audience.

Whilst these channels became particularly important to them during the pandemic as a means of maintaining engagement with their audience, they knew they had the capability to do more with technology, particularly on-site.

During the pandemic they invested in digital ticketing to help alleviate issues around the contactless experience and as a result began to leverage new customer data.

The core objectives of their digital strategy were to identify sustainable ways in which they could improve their audience engagement and enhance their educational messaging, whilst learning more about their audience’s behaviour and interactions to help improve their operational planning and marketing.

The team identified the need for a solution to help drive engagement but were conscious, like many zoos, of the size and scale of a project such as this, and identified a number of potential barriers to entry including:

  • Significant up-front investment costs
  • Lack of technical expertise and resources
  • Potential lead times to build and deploy an app
  • Integrating with existing software such as ticketing

Part of their key aims and objectives were to identify a software provider to embrace their passion for conservation education. Most solutions seemed to focus on improving operational benefits (such as providing a digital map, wallet, or order and pay functionality), but didn’t improve the educational or content enrichment aspects of their purpose.

They were explicit in their aims to identify ways they could use technology to enhance the physical experience whilst not detracting from it. Making sure the digital experience was natural, and intuitive, adding value at every step of the audience journey.

Meeting their key aims and objectives with

Northumberland Zoo condensed their core focuses for this software solution into seven points:

  • Gain valuable data insights on visitor behaviour in terms of dwell time on-site, at exhibits and facilities, and interaction with in-app content
  • Utilise insight data to create more personalised marketing campaigns and measure their success
  • Identify software to contribute to their sustainability goals
  • Reinforce their conservation and environmental messaging
  • Enhance the learning capabilities of their school visit programme
  • Enrich the on-site audience experience with interactive content through a mobile visitor app
  • Find software that was also capable of integrating with their digital ticketing software to help improve the ticketing and membership offer

With those specific aims and objectives in mind, their choice of supplier and assessment of the software was to be based upon the ability to meet these criteria.

Following a period of research and having discovered the solution, it became clear through their initial research that other solutions were largely based around general operational functionality with little regard for enhancing the actual zoo experience from a content or educational perspective.

Their overarching strategic aims were to create the ability to enhance the audience experience, whilst gaining further insight into their behaviour, which they could then use to help assess and benchmark their operational performance and marketing KPIs.

As Maxine Bradley, founder and Zoo Curator at Northumberland Zoo explains

“In, we found a technology partner who understood our needs with a solution that has exceeded our early expectations. The platform was ready to go and packed with features. We were so impressed by the range of functionality we just had to deploy it.”

“Since then, they’ve worked with us to add more features at our request which will benefit the whole sector going forward. The team ensured our setup was straightforward and above all it required no technical expertise to customise.”

"Taking our data gathering to the next level, we installed low energy Bluetooth beacon technology that can track dwell time whilst also triggering interactive app content in context to our audience."

"Once visitors have downloaded our app powered by the platform, through dwell time monitoring, heat mapping and content triggering, we are now instantly able to see which displays are getting the most attention.”

"Simply put, their highly customisable software and mobile app has given us the power to enhance audience engagement whilst gaining valuable insights into their on-site behaviour.”


Northumberland Zoo now benefits in three key ways

1. Powerful data insights

Because of the enormous real time data gathering, we’re also able to send visitors live push notifications and personalised messages based on their behaviour as the platform can segment data and send personalised communication, which is also essential in building long-term audience relationships and getting across our key messages.

A great example of this in practice at Northumberland Zoo is if a family dwells at an enclosure for long enough, the team can send a notification to the family's mobile devices offering one of their personalised animal experiences, or suggesting they find out more about that species' conservation efforts in a much more intuitive and interactive way.

What's more, the zoo has introduced interactive quizzes to encourage knowledge building and obtain feedback, and audiences can also rate keeper talks and animal displays providing immediate, actionable insights.

Website Images (32)

2. Driving revenue using technology

Some of the financial benefits we’re already experiencing since deployment of the app have included an increased spend in our cafe and gift shop due to the application of vouchers and targeted marketing as well as a reduction of food wastage in the cafe due to timed alerts letting visitors know that today’s food is available at a reduced price.

The financial benefits to Northumberland Zoo are clear, and span a range of business areas.
In addition to direct spend, through the solution, they now have the capability to increase animal adoptions in a digital sense, without the need for more recognition signage on our enclosures. A digitally enhanced adoption strategy also means they can say so much more about how funds are being utilised, and offer more of them as they're not restricted by physical signage or displays.

3. Feature-rich mobile app

The plan your day and handy ‘news’ section informs visitors of the latest projects being undertaken and we are now able to provide visitors with a host of information that they were not able to easily access prior to the app’s introduction. Not only could we share facts about the animals, but we can also request feedback on how effective the keeper talks have been immediately after.

Visitors have access to Northumberland Zoo's personalised and feature-rich mobile app, allowing them to plan their day pre, during and post visit. Through personalised content, audiences are informed of upcoming exhibits and interesting activities at the zoo on a daily basis. 

The app provides educational content, with a key aim of the project being that conservation education was accessible to all. With the addition of quiz functionality as an example, Northumberland Zoo can improve and maintain engagement before, during and after a visit.

NZ mobile views


Measuring success

Evaluating the success of the solution, Maxine explains:

We deployed the software in October 2022 and in a matter of weeks received immediate uptake with over 2,500 downloads.

Our app retention rate (continuous use of the app following installation) is periodically at 33% of our app installs after 30 days, compared to an industry average of 6%, proving that engagement continues well after a visit.

Three months after deployment we were able to get meaningful data on our dwell times, showing that an average visit had increased by over 30 minutes in duration.

The team have measured the effectiveness of the app using a range of different metrics to date, having set clear goals for what they wanted the solution to achieve and how they would measure success.

Whilst app usage was important (and therefore a focus on app download and retention rates were key), they also wanted to incorporate direct visitor feedback as part of the evaluation and review process.

Similarly, the zoo has been seeing progress towards its sustainability goals, being able to reduce costs incurred when facilitating animal adoptions as these are now shared via the app instead of printing and displaying signage around the zoo.

The same applies to delivering in-app visitor navigation - the need for printed maps continues to decrease. 

Furthermore, the zoo now has access to an array of visitor insights via their dashboard, providing a live snapshot of all their app and marketing KPIs in one place.

This data - which can be accessed from anywhere - is being used to drive audience memberships, turning one-day ticket holders into long term, loyal supporters of the zoo wherever possible.


"A game changer for our industry"

In conclusion, Maxine details:

The project has been hugely beneficial to date in terms of how we project our brand, and the experience we deliver on-site. We are learning so much more about our audience’s behaviour and can use these valuable insights to improve our experiences further.

From our experiences we have identified that many other zoos are facing similar issues when it comes to digital adoption. The challenges they face and potential barriers to entry are preventing many from moving forward with technology in a way which truly adds value.

We regularly host other zoo operators to see our project in action. We firmly believe that the software is a game changer for our industry."

Through collaboration with, attractions like Northumberland Zoo gain access to a cost-effective software solution that is quick to implement and provides essential business insights.

This partnership elevates the visitor experience and boosts revenues. The software seamlessly integrates with third-party platforms, such as digital ticketing, to offer a single technology solution. Tailored to the specific needs of each attraction, these customisable solutions enhance the visitor experience, ultimately leading to revenue growth.


Driving Growth.
Creating Value.
Delivering Impact.

Backed by

Growth Capital Ventures (GCV) is backed by funds managed by Maven Capital Partners, one of the UK’s leading private equity and alternative asset managers.