Wonderbly plans further expansion under new owner
Thursday, July 29, 2021
Private equity firm Graphite Capital has acquired personalised childrens’ book specialist Wonderbly, with expansion plans including products for third-party clients.
The business, initially known as Lost My Name and best-known at the time for those eponymous personalised books, has grown rapidly since it was founded in 2012 by ‘dadtrepreneurs’ Asi Sharabi, David Cadji-Newby, Tal Oron and Pedro Serapicos.
In 2014 the firm secured a £100,000 investment from Dragons’ Den investor Piers Linney for a 4% stake, in what was the best equity deal in the history of the TV show at the time.
Wonderbly subsequently received funding from venture capital investors including Google Ventures, Project A Ventures and Greycroft.
The terms of the Graphite Capital deal were not disclosed.
In its most recent financial results, to 31 May 2020, Wonderbly (filing as LostMy.Name Ltd) had sales of £26.1m, gross profit margins of 66% and an operating profit of £2.9m.
It added 16 new personalised stories and expanded the age ranges of its products, with new launches accounting for 31% of sales.
The direct-to-consumer specialist has more than 260,000 followers on Instagram.
Graphite said that sales at the expanding firm had grown by more than 20% a year for the past three years, and were now more than £30m.
“Wonderbly operates in a large and fast-growing sector. The global personalised gif ting market is worth £19bn and is growing at 9% annually. The market for personalised children’s books is also growing rapidly, with consumers increasingly seeking unique educational gifts for children,” Graphite stated.
It is in the “early stages” of expanding its technology reach to develop and market personalised products for a number of blue-chip third-party clients, including Warner Bros and Universal.
“Wonderbly’s technology integrates with its clients’ systems, allowing them to market products through their own websites without inventory risk,” Graphite said.
The firm’s UK print providers include Charlesworth Press and Pureprint Group and it works with a worldwide network of print-on-demand specialists, “creating a scalable global model with no inventory”.
Wonderbly chief executive Sharabi said the firm had known Graphite for several years, and Graphite had been “top of our list” when the business started thinking about new partners.
He said: “We were impressed by the experience of their team, their expertise in brand development and their shared vision for our future. We look forward to working with them on the next stage of our journey.”
Wonderbly has customers in more than 150 countries and sold more than 1m books last year.
Omar Kayat, senior partner at Graphite, commented: ‘Wonderbly has a talented management team which, in a short space of time, has built a high-quality business with a worldwide footprint and market-leading technology. We will work with Asi and his team to develop further corporate partnerships and expand Wonderbly into a broader digital media and technology company.”
Wonderbly was named Children’s Book Publisher of the Year at the British Book Awards earlier this year.
A new company, Wonderbly Productions Ltd, was set up in April with the business description of “television programme production activities”.