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Internet entrepreneur attracts VC funding

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Soma was introduced to the team from investment firm Atomico – which includes Niklas Zennström of Skype fame – at a business event in December and completed the VC deal last week. “I wasn’t actively looking for funding," says 32-year-old Soma, who launched Chemistdirect.co.uk from his garden shed in 2007. "But it was too good a deal to turn down.”

Soma’s £5m-turnover business sells health and beauty products over the internet, undercutting high-street chemists and supermarkets. It recently launched a spin-off service, offering discounted pet medicines.

“I hope this puts the word on the street that VCs are still willing to invest in companies that show promise,” says Soma.

So, what’s the first thing he’s going to do with the £3m pot of money? “Buy a Bentley,” he jokes.

“Actually, I’ll be using the money to strengthen the management team, move to new premises and increase marketing activity.”

He also plans to recruit more staff. And with unemployment set to surge past the politically sensitive two million mark this week, Soma will have his pick of new recruits. “The fact that other companies are making redundancies means there’s an opportunity for us to attract great talent,” he says. “There aren’t many successful dotcoms in Birmingham – so I hope Chemistdirect.co.uk will be a real draw.”

Related articles:Online chemist branches out into babycare

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