Wednesday, 15 March 2017

How many times can a Crowdcube company reinvent itself?

Crowdmortage, no sorry Fruitful Finance Limited........oh what, oh no sorry Fruitful Market Place are now up and limping again.

Breaking - This company was promoting its new 'service' at the MI event we attended yesterday (25 March 2017). When a brand new co promotes itself by claiming returns of over 30% - implying that these have been achieved - it's worth being a little sceptical. Lot of sharks in the pond.

We were sent this email from Ex Fruitful CEO to ex Fruitful shareholders - today (22 March 2017) -

Fruitful Finance Ltd - Courtesy Email

Hello , 
This is a courtesy email from myself, Luke Barnes, following questions and comments some investors in the now dissolved Fruitful Finance Ltd have recently made. 
You may be aware that I have started a new business, to which I would like to clarify some points for everyone so there is no confusion. 
The business you invested in, Fruitful Finance Ltd, operated the peer-to-peer mortgage platform, which was dissolved last year. This business was a platform that enabled individuals to lend money directly to mortgage borrowers in return for a set interest rate on their investment. Subsequently, it enabled businesses to obtain a competitively priced mortgage to purchase property for their business. 
Unfortunately, after more than 3 years of hard work, we were unable to make the business model work for the following reasons: 
1.    Due to the cost of acquiring a large enough group of investors to reach the scale required for a low margin mortgage business. 
2.    Not able to raise sufficient capital in order to scale the business.  
3.    In a planned transition to institutional capital, the credit-line agreed from a major lender was withdrawn due to changes in their lending criteria following the EU referendum. 
The company ran out of money 6 months prior to it closing, with the team working without a salary and covering overheads personally during this period. Since the company had ran out of capital and had no foreseeable route to save the business, after a thorough debate, we took the hard decision that it was time to close Fruitful Finance Ltd. 
Since closing the lovefruitful platform and business, I have personally started a new venture within the property development sector. 
This is a completely different business to Fruitful Finance Ltd. 
This includes: 
1.    A completely new business model within property developments opposed to finance. 
2.    New team 
3.    New set of Regulation 
4.    New Investors / Share holders 
5.    New Website domain 
6.    New Website 
7.    New Software 
8.    New trading name 
I have made sure that nothing from the lovefruitful business has been used in my new venture. The only exception being the company fruit logo, which I personally designed and own the copyright to. 
Although it was unfortunate that we were unable to make the lovefruitful business work, this hasn’t deterred me from my goal of growing a successful business. 
It’s very disappointing but some investors from Fruitful Finance Ltd seem to be attempting to sabotage my new venture through negative comments on certain public channels. So I would like to make it clear that it was disheartening that the old business wasn’t a success, but it was our only option after many months of trying to save it. I would also like to point out that I also made a loss on this business as I put in a significant amount of capital alongside Crowdcube investors. 
Starting a new business in a completely new sector is well within my rights and morally sound since investors  back a specific business, not a person or any business concept they come up with in the future. 
I thought this email would help clarify some questions you may have and to assure you that lovefruitful is not continuing under a new name, I have simply started a new venture in a new sector. 
I hope this helps. 
Best Regards, 
Luke Barnes
How this is supposed to help investors who lost their cash is not made plain. Fruitful in its various guises raised 3 times on Crowdcube  and never delivered anything. The company has various off shoots at CH and its final accounts filed at CH state that all lines are zero. Were shareholders notified? Where has the money gone - all £183k of it. We find it hard to be sympathetic except to his ex shareholders. Claims like this made on the Crowdcube pitch dont help - 'In discussions with 2 major TV channels and production companies in relation to making a documentary on our revolutionary business and how were changing the UK financial market to help rebuild the UK economy.'. Not one but two major TV channels - -hahahahahaa. Rollocks. And just for the record Mr Barnes is either a liar or ignorant, as the IP for Fruitful was owned by the company (not him as he claims here) and was transferred to the newco Fruitful Market place Ltd in Sept 2016 - according to the Gov IP Office records. More rollocks. 

This takes some balls  - taking investors cash and then delivering nothing and then just to add a twist to reinvent yourself three times. And this has all been achieved by one man, Luke Barnes. Luke originally funded via Crowdcube - congratulations to the platform for helping UK plc create yet another fantastic success. They appear to have kept (is that the right word?) the original trademark logo for the newco. Did investors in the closed co get a say in this?

The latest vision seems to entail building sustainable homes - with their FCA sanctioned website promoting annual returns of 33%. They even have a quote from Kevin of Grand Designs fame - although we should point that as far as we know Kevin is not endorsing this company. The team have credentials so who knows.  

Thanks go to the ex shareholders who have expressed their amazement and irritation in equal measure. As they rightly point out, nothing illegal here. But a word of advice for would be 'investors' on this Crowdcube platform. Once these so called entrepreneurs have your details, expect frequent requests for cash for whatever venture they create once the initial one has gone tits up. Crowdcube wont tell you that.

We suppose you can expect to see these guys on an equity crowdfunding platform near you anytime soon.  


  1. They definitely kept the mailing lists from the old co.

  2. I saw them at the MI show yesterday - talk about ballsy. Promoting returns of 33% plus in a way that strongly implies this is an historic figure - which seems a little unlikely as they havent started trading yet. Certainly not my bag.