Gener8, a free-to-use browser add-on that lets users earn from their data or work in privacy, has secured £2.1 million in angel investment from stars including Tinie Tempah and Harry Redknapp.
The high-profile backing comes after the startup’s founder, former Red Bull marketing manager Sam Jones, appeared on Dragon’s Den in April asking for a £60,000 investment for 10% equity in Gener8.
Judge Touker Suleyman labelled his performance “the best pitch” he had ever witnessed and four ‘dragons’ offered to invest.
Gener8, named one of TechNation’s rising stars of 2019, serves users ads based on their interests. Users earn points when they see ads online, which can be exchanged for products, Amazon vouchers or even a cash donation to charity.
The startup, which gives average person between £5 and £25 in rewards per month from their data, said the funding round values it at over £10 million. Gener8 has secured hundreds of thousands of users to date, with its offering downloaded every 10 seconds for the last four weeks, it said.
The startup’s idea is “to create a movement and highlight the importance of protecting our online data”.
Redknapp said that he can see the same “passion, drive and a top workrate” in Jones as he sees in professional footballers, while Tempah said: “As soon as I saw him pitch the Dragons I was trying to figure out how I could get involved.
“It’s an issue that blows my mind - we accept these cookies tracking us online, and then everything that happens afterwards is invisible. Gener8 is an incredible tool that will be the answer for many of us who don’t want to just give our information away for free anymore.”
Dragon’s Den judge Tej Lalvani also joined the funding round. The investor said he had never before sought out an entrepreneur who had appeared on the hit BBC show after filming completed. But he “tracked Jones down” to see if he could also invest, after fellow dragons Peter Jones and Touker Suleyman won the on-screen battle to back the startup.
“When Sam was in the Den, I knew I wanted to get behind the vision for Gener8 and give people the power to control their own data,” Lalvani said.
Jones said the startup’s fortunes had “really taken off” since his appearance on the show and that “it feels like a movement is starting”.
He said: “It’s an issue that resonates with many of us: our online data is being exploited, but what can we do about it? At Gener8, we’re passionate about helping people to either be rewarded for their data, or to keep it private altogether whilst they’re browsing online.
“I’m so excited to welcome the talent, passion and drive for change that Tinie, Harry and Tej will bring to the team. It’s just the beginning of something special.”