HE’S the brazen entrepreneur who snubbed a £75,000 offer in the Dragons’ Den to blaze his own trail.
Now the boss behind Mallzee, the personalised shopping app, has secured more than 30 times that amount in funding after investors pledged £2.5 million to help his ambitious venture take over the world.
Launched just 18 months ago, Mallzee already boasts hundreds of thousands of customers in 125 different countries and is now looking to double its 15-strong team and expand even further.
Dubbed “Tinder for fashion”, the app allows savvy shoppers to access more than 100 retailers with a single swipe – with its technology matching unique style profiles to every individual.
Cally Russell, Mallzee founder and chief executive, said the company – based in Greenside Row – was now “totally focused on growth”.
The 27-year-old featured in this year’s Dragons’ Den, turning down an offer of £75,000 investment from telecom and retail entrepreneur Peter Jones.
He said: “It wasn’t the right deal at the right price. It was heartbreaking, but I think it was the right decision to make.
“This round of investment is going to allow us to become the leading fashion shopping app in the world and the mix of investors is going to be vital to allowing us to achieve this.
“Fashion shopping on mobile is becoming a very hot space and Mallzee has always been at the forefront, having been the original personalised shopping app.
“This round of investment will allow us to grow this further but it will also enable us to offer our new insights tool to retailers to enable them to gain actionable insights into what products to market and stock.”
The latest funding boost saw investment from the Royal Mail Group, the Scottish Investment Bank and Par Equity, as well as a raft of top technology entrepreneurs such as Gareth Williams from Skyscanner – Scotland’s first ever $1 billion web company – and Chris Van Der Kuyl and Paddy Burns from East Lothian video game makers 4j Studios.
But Lynne McCrossan, fashion expert and brand guardian of DC Dalgliesh, said the app would have its work cut out if it wanted to crack the fashion market in the long term.
She said: “Our technology community in Edinburgh is incredible right now – we are in an incredible little tech bubble.
“Whether or not Mallzee is the real deal fashion-wise, I don’t know. But as a tech company they are incredible. Fashion tech is a really difficult thing to crack, and there’s not been the crossover between the two communities that has really cracked it yet.
“The way that fashion works is a total science, and the science of shopping is a huge business. I think that Cally is incredibly smart – he is so gifted, and with that kind of money he will be able to employ more gifted people.”