ONE of the founders of Instagram has invested in a Dorset inventor’s plan to expand his oven business.

The backing of Mike Kreiger, co-founder of the social media giant, has helped a crowdfunding campaign reach a total of £1.24million – against a target of just £500,000.

Tom Gozney founded his Christchurch-based company the Gozney Group in 2011. It sells pizza ovens to restaurants, as well as Roccbox fire and stone ovens, which were launched for domestic customers in 2016.

Mr Kreiger – who invested via the crowdfunding platform Crowdcube – said: “I purchased my first Roccbox last year and it’s incredible.

“Every time I post a pizza photo on my Instagram Stories, I get several people reaching out curious about the Roccbox.

“When I learnt Gozney were seeking investment, I decided to back them as I feel they have amazing global growth potential.”

Gozney Group, based on Christchurch Business Park in Radar Way, has seen its products impress the likes of Jean Christophe Novelli, Paul Hollywood and Richard Branson. Its clients include Franco Manca, Pizza Pilgrims and Homeslice.

Gozney’s crowdfunding campaign was aimed at enabling it to expand quickly into “proven markets” internationally and to develop new products.

It is due to run until July 10 but raised £1.2m in slightly more than a week.

Tom Gozney, founder and CEO at Gozney, says: “We’re thrilled by the response to our crowdfunding campaign and love that Mike is a big fan. The fact that every single investor understands and supports our vision for Gozney is very special and we’re incredibly thankful for their support.

“The team was confident that we’d reach our funding target, but the speed in which it was achieved has been something else. We’re excited to be able to deliver the brand’s next stage of growth and reward the trust has been bestowed upon us.”

Speaking in 2016, Mr Gozney told how he had been thrown out of Walhampton and Ballard schools in the New Forest, as well as Bournemouth and Poole College and the Arts Institute. “I was quite badly behaved in school and I would get distracted and become naughty,” he said.

But he said he went on to become “incredibly ambitious and driven”, buying a riverside home in Lymington and a Lamborghini Huracan by the age of 29.