Stamp Free Limited, a digital postage stamp company based in Cambridge and Edinburgh, has raised £300,000 to ramp up commercial traction and further develop its technology.
The funding was led by Dr Ronjon Nag’s Silicon Valley-based R42 Group and high profile Cambridge Angels investors. The company also received grant funding from Scottish Enterprise.
It has launched the Stamp Free Digital Postage Solution™ to enable businesses and consumers to send parcels and letters as well as return consumer goods using an app without the need for a postage stamp or printing a postage stamp at home.
The company says this is the world’s first digital stamp solution to be offered independent of a postal service. It envisages major demand from the postal and wider logistics sectors.
In addition to ease of use for the user, it benefits postal carriers by removing issues associated with postage stamps such as fraud, liabilities and cost of printing, management adds.
The business has already recruited a top team including former senior executives at International Post Corporation and Royal Mail.
The Stamp Free Digital Postage Solution™ utilises machine handwriting recognition as a core part of its technology. The three key components are Digicode, Shipcode and Easycode.
The Digicode solution is primarily for the consumer market; it is said to eliminate the need to visit a shop or post office for stamps or printing digital stamps or labels at home.
Customers can select the mail product (letter or parcel) and pay the exact postage amount via the Stamp Free app or an integrated postal carrier app. The customer receives a Digicode that they write on the mail item, which is scanned/validated by the app.
The Shipcode™ solution is intended primarily for the business market – targeting marketplace sellers, mail-room functions and small businesses who post frequently. The technology is said to eliminate the need for franking machines or parcel shipping solutions.
The Easycode™ solution is designed for the consumer goods return market and is aimed at making online product returns easy for the customer and cost-effective for the retailer; it eliminates the need for returns labels included with products sold or printed off.
Customers wishing to return items purchased online receive their Easycode via the Stamp Free app or the retailer’s website, which they write on the item before returning it. Items are returned at a local locker, drop-off point or posted.
Stamp Free says that all three solutions also benefit the postal carriers by removing issues associated with postage stamps such as fraud, liabilities and cost of printing. By having access to data on the postings made through the app, they can also ensure they are paid correctly for the items they handle.
The company expects to release Digicode into the market and develop Shipcode and Easycode over the next 12 months. The company has filed a patent application for its Stamp Free Digital Postage Solution™.
Stamp Free has been founded by serial entrepreneur Hugh Craigie Halkett and, from Royal Mail, he has been joined by Tim Higginbotham as IT director and Oli Pearce as finance director.
The company has appointed Alan Barrie as chairman. He has in-depth industry experience having previously worked at the International Post Corporation as director of Operations & Technology for six years. He is also joined by Chris Galley, the former CTO of Accesso Technology Group plc, as Technology Non-Executive Director.
Making up the team, the board will be advised by Ian Jones, former chief of staff reporting to the CEO of Royal Mail, and Miki Fairfax, investment manager and business angel.
Managing director, Hugh Craigie Halkett, commented: “This investment enables us to conclude our product validation stage with a number of engaged postal companies as we look to disrupt a market that has been rapidly expanding under COVID-19 and will continue to do so thereafter.”
Dr Ronjon Nag added: “I am delighted to be investing in Stamp Free. I pioneered machine handwriting recognition and this is the best application of it I’ve seen – so we at R42 jumped at the chance to invest at this early stage and be part of the growth of the business.”