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Skyscanner boss among investors..

Tycoons offer cash backing for beer club founder

James Brown 2A recent Scottish start-up that has grown into the world’s largest independent craft beer club is looking to branch out into stronger tipples after securing backing from some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs.

Each month, Beer52’s expert beer-tasters select eight of the finest craft beer to send to subscribers. With thousands of drinkers raising an enthusiastic glass to the business since it started out in 2013, turnover rocketed to £2.6 million last year and is on track to triple this year.

Now the startup, which was brewed in Entrepreneurial Spark’s Hatchery system, has secured an undisclosed cash injection from a consortium of top business figures, including Skyscanner founder Gareth Williams; Secret Escapes founder Andrew Bredon; and Alex Carlton, who recently sold his Funkin Cocktails business to AG Barr for £60 million.

James Brown, founder of Beer52, said plans for growth include a move into craft spirits, and launching their new lightning fast delivery e-commerce model. The firm is also creating five full-time jobs.

Mr Brown, who joined Entrepreneurial Spark’s accelerator programme in Edinburgh with a different business but chose to concentrate on Beer52 instead, said his time at the hatchery was crucial in developing himself and his business.

“Everything changed,” he said. “Entrepreneurial Spark really helped me get this business going to its full potential, and I’m delighted to be expanding and offering opportunities to others.”

Beer52 offers routes to market for 15,000 microbreweries around the world that are unable to compete with the mainstream brewers, and introduces beer lovers to exciting new products every month. It has also been a huge hit with investors, raising money through crowdfunding campaigns as well as from business angels.

Mr Brown added: “To get backing from such a group of distinguished entrepreneurs is all we could wish for. It does far more than simply funding our ambitious expansion plans – it also provides an invaluable wealth of expertise to draw on and represents a huge vote of confidence in our business and its prospects.”

Jim Duffy, chief executive and founder of Entrepreneurial Spark, said: “We are all raising a glass to Beer52 as this funding, from such an illustrious group of entrepreneurs, is an excellent result for James and his business.

“It’s wonderful to see businesses that joined us as little more than the seed of an idea growing into world-beating companies. That is what we are all about, and the success of so many companies that have been through our system amply illustrates the benefits of providing suitable mentoring and support for entrepreneurs.

“I would urge anyone who is nurturing a business idea or has the ambition to set up or grow their own business to take a look at our growing network of free Hatcheries, which now cover most of the UK, and consider applying for our summer intake.”

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