Arete invests extra £1m into schools platform

A digital platform that helps schools generate extra revenue by hiring out their facilities has secured a further £1m from Liverpool private capital investor Arete. Tony McDonough reports

Alaine Swis and Russell Teale, founders of Vivify


Liverpool private capital investor Arete is to make a second investment into a fast-growing digital platform that helps schools generate revenues from their facilities.

In July last year Arete announced it was making a “significant” but unspecified investment into North West-based Vivify. Now after seeing the firm enjoy a period of “rapid growth” Arete is to plough in another £1m.

Vivify was founded in 2020 by the current management team of Russell Teale and Alaine Swis. They have since been joined by finance director Carl Cox and chairman Richard Millman.

It works with schools across the country to hire out their facilities outside of school hours to enable them to generate much-needed revenue that can be invested back into their facilities, teachers, and pupils.

Arete first met the business before it launched its booking platform in 2020 and invested during 2021 to help fuel growth and add value through the team’s experience. Now the use of leisure facilities is returning to pre-pandemic levels and Vivify’s platform is now utilised by more than 70 schools.

It has enabled thousands of hirer groups and grassroots teams to find and book local facilities. Vivify has also established relationships with national partners, such as Total Swimming Academies, with whom they have launched the Movement Project – a national campaign led by Becky Adlington to address the UK’s inactivity crisis.

This new round of funding will help Vivify launch a new product by developing its platform  to schools across the internet rather than via the installation of software that has to be updated and maintained. This is known as an SaaS service.

Russell Teale, chief executive at Vivify, said: “The initial investment from Arete enabled us to raise awareness of Vivify and offer a lifeline to schools, including some who were operating a deficit budget.

“With costs such as energy bills rapidly increasing, hiring out facilities can generate hundreds of thousands of pounds for a school, and in turn help with pupil recruitment which brings additional funding.

“With 39% of sporting facilities existing behind school gates, schools really do have a pivotal role to play in improving the health of the nation, and this next phase of funding will help us to launch a new product to enable more schools to join the movement to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of communities across the UK.”

Simon Lord, partner at Arete, added that Vivify’s idea that school facilities can be leveraged for the benefit of the community, has proved to be accurate. He explained: “Vivify has generated a significant amount of revenue for schools to date.

“This new capital round will enable the business to work with a greater number of schools by providing the technology for school stakeholders with limited time to easily launch and manage a community lettings programme in-house.

The transaction was led by Simon Lord, Andy Critchley and Briony Fagan at Arete, Matt Noon and Elan Iorwerth of Hill Dickinson (legal advisers), and Patrick Morris of Fairhurst (tax).

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