Friends Reunited founder Steve Pankhurst and acting Tech North leader Herb Kim are among the investors in a six-figure funding round successfully closed by Manchester startup M14 Industries.

The Ignite100 accelerator alumni has developed a technology platform that lets anyone run their own dating or social app.

M14 has already developed Bristlr, a niche dating product for beard lovers, and its first product for a partner, Koob for book lovers, launched earlier this week.

Herb Kim

Herb Kim

The four-strong startup, based in Manchester and London, was recently selected by Tech North as one of its Northern Stars.

Herb Kim, the founder of the Thinking Digital festival, said he had been persuaded to be an angel investor for the first time.

He said: “I first came across M14 Industries when they pitched at the Thinking Digital Conference in Newcastle, and I’ve have been following their journey through the Ignite accelerator and the Tech North Northern Stars competition.

“John Kershaw’s down to earth, “low hype” style earned my respect and trust and I really felt they were onto a winning business model.

“At the Northern Tech Awards I learned that M14 were looking for one more investor to complete their round and 24 hours later I’d entered into my first angel investment. I’m elated my first angel investment also happens to be a Northern startup,” he added to BQ magazine.

Other investors include ex MDs Jason Stockwood and Sam Bedford, Doug Scott from PotentialVC, IXIS founder Chris Haslam and Steve Pankhurst, the founder of Friends Reunited founder.

John Kershaw, founder of M14 Industries

John Kershaw, founder of M14 Industries

M14 founder John Kershaw said: “I’m really excited about our recent round; it represents much more than just finance. It’s great to have such a vote of confidence from the likes of Jason and Sam, both ex MD’s of, and Herb Kim, who’s been watching our company grow and flourish over the past year.

“We’re the first company to attempt what we’re attempting. Much larger companies in the space have said it’s not possible to provide dating and social apps for anyone as easily as we can, and it makes me happy to be bucking the trend and leading the way.

“We’ve got a long way to go, as is the case with every company that’s got a big vision, but we’ve got the team, investors, and mentors to make it happen. The future looks very bright for M14.”