Scottish Investment Bank and Kelvin Capital also back managed bee-keeping business, named UK's Small Business of the Year at prestigious green economy awards.
Fresh from being named the UK green economy's Small Business of the Year, Plan Bee, the groundbreaking eco-innovation business which offers managed bee-hive services, has created a buzz by pulling off one of Scotland's most successful crowdfunding campaigns as part of a second funding round which also attracted backing from the public and private sectors.
Advised by law firm Harper Macleod, the start-up raised £105,500 from 177 investors on the Crowdcube platform, almost 176% of its target of £60,000.
Added to further investment of £70,000 from Glasgow-based business syndicate Kelvin Capital and the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB), the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise, it takes Plan Bee's funding past £300,000 in total since last year.
On Wednesday night, Plan Bee was named Small Business of the Year at the Business Green Leaders Awards in London, the UK's most prestigious awards for the growing green economy.
Warren Bader, the founder of Plan Bee, has been overwhelmed by the response to the company's unique offering, which will allow the business to pursue ambitious growth plans and maintain its rapid growth of the past 18 months.
"In many ways we've been a test case, and I hope we've paved they way for other businesses to follow this model of funding from various sources.
"This funding will enable us to fully implement our business and marketing plan, as well as source more stock. We're looking to take on more permanent staff, develop our e-commerce and expand our education offering. We have a pipeline of potential deals with major organisations in both the public and private sectors, and are now in a position to capitalise on the interest in Plan Bee in Scotland and beyond."
Plan Bee already counts Balfour Beatty, Land Securities , Royal Troon golf club and Highland Spring among its clients.
SIB and Kelvin Capital backed Motherwell-based Plan Bee - an alumni of the Entrepreneurial Spark business incubator programme - to the tune of £130,000 through the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme in July 2013, and have again shared a £70,000 investment in this round of funding.
Plan Bee has been advised by leading law firm Harper Macleod in securing the extremely complex round of investment which could set the benchmark for other start-ups at a time when alternative funding models are establishing themselves alongside mainstream investors.
Harper Macleod Partner Paula Skinner, who specialises in advising start-up and high-growth companies, said: "In the current climate both businesses and their advisers have to be more innovative to access pots of funding from a range of areas. To pull off such a successful crowdfunding campaign, at the same time as securing investment from more traditional channels, demonstrates the appeal of Plan Bee and it's been incredible to play a part in its success to date.
"We've been working with Plan Bee almost since its inception, and knew that it was the perfect type of business to pull off a successful crowdfund – and so it has proven. We're delighted to help Warren and the team reach their target, but this is only the next stage and we look forward to helping them continue to grow."
In recent years there has been a steady decline in the population of honeybees, which are vital to the eco-system, pollinating trees, plants, flowers, vegetables and fruit. It is estimated that they are responsible for a third of the food we eat and worth around £1 billion to agriculture in the UK.
Bader set up Plan Bee in 2011 to tackle this decline. Through Plan Bee, companies, communities or individuals pay for a managed bee-hive, which can be set up on their property or wherever they choose. As well as adding to the country's ecological wellbeing, customers receive 24 jars of bespoke labelled honey per hive per year.
Bader added: "It is fantastic to see our ambitious plans backed once again by Kelvin Capital and the Scottish Investment Bank. We wouldn't have made it this far without their backing, along with the first-class assistance of our professional advisers at Harper Macleod, and others including Entrepreneurial Spark and North Lanarkshire Council.
"We had 14,000 views of our business plan on Crowdcube, which was incredible. And the amount of support we've been given from our crowdfunding investors has been phenomenal. It's not just money, they want to help with whatever field of expertise they come from. Our biggest investment was £20,000 and our smallest was £10, but in many ways the small investments are just as important. They are our ambassadors as we move forward. Anybody considering crowdfunding in Scotland should make a bee-line for Paula and her team.
"In the past year we have seen remarkable interest in the business and there is incredible potential for our unique, sustainable business model, which has been recognised by the EU Commission as an exemplar of best practice."
Jim Hall, co-founder of Kelvin Capital which specialises in early stage investment into Scottish innovations, said: "Plan Bee is a great example of a promising Scottish business, with an extremely positive vision and environmental credentials. We are delighted to back up our original investment and continue our support for Warren and his team as they capitalise on its full potential, which has only been enhanced by the interest generated from the 'crowd'."
Luke Lang, Co-Founder and CMO of Crowdcube, the world's leading investment crowdfunding platform, said: "We were absolutely delighted to help Plan Bee secure such a phenomenal response to its campaign. Warren and his team have an incredible idea and a great business plan - one perfectly suited to crowdfunding as it captures the imagination of so many people. Scottish businesses are now really embracing crowdfunding .
Jim Duffy, Chief Executive Optimist, Entrepreneurial Spark, said: "Executing on a crowd fund is hard work. There is no such thing as easy money. The 'crowd' really has to get what they are investing in. Plan Bee has done remarkably well in both execution and bringing on board new investors who appreciate the business model and the environmental aspect of this business. Warren as the CEO works tirelessly both in and on his business. I am sure that he and his hive will go from strength to strength. At Entrepreneurial Spark we talk about a GoDo attitude and Warren has this in bucket loads."
Councillor David Fagan, convener of North Lanarkshire Council's regeneration and infrastructure committee, said: "Warren has worked hard to develop Plan Bee over the last few years and North Lanarkshire Council has been delighted to assist its growth, initially by enabling the company to establish within North Lanarkshire after winning a competition in 2012 for a year's' rent-free lease of a brand new start-up unit in Wishaw. The Council also helped Plan Bee access Business Gateway support as well as financial assistance via our Business Growth Fund grant scheme. The company has achieved much in a relatively short time, and the recent highly successful crowdfunding initiative will ensure that Warren can fully exploit the exciting opportunities that lie ahead. Going forward the Council is committed to helping ambitious North Lanarkshire businesses like Plan Bee access the support they need in order to realise their growth potential."