5 top tips to crowdfunding success

In April this year, Bird & Blend (previously know as Bluebird Tea Co) hit their crowdfunding target within 24 hours of going live on Crowdcube. After releasing further equity, the company went on to secure £365k in just under 48 hours from 289 investors. Co-founder Krisi Smith shares her tips for ensuring a successful and rapid raise.

My partner Mike and I founded Bird & Blend from a back bedroom in 2013 and we currently sell our teas through our three retail stores, an international website and our 150 independent stockists. We have a passion for mixing together unusual flavours and our specialism is creative tea blending.  

With big plans to open three more stores this year, we chose to crowdfund, not only for the cash injection but also to get more people involved in the Bird & Blend community.

Coming into our raise we had prepped for months, working with the team at Crowdcube to make sure things went smoothly when we were live. Even though we were prepared we were still a little panicked as it dawned on us in the first few hours that it was going to go much quicker than expected!

We went live at 11am and hit 30% within the first hour and 100% by that evening. The phone wouldn’t stop ringing and we were trying to bring forward our updates and marketing to ensure we let everyone who had signed up for updates know so they had time to invest.

Despite the slight chaos we had a fantastic experience on Crowdcube and so I wanted to share our top 5 tips that helped us successfully fund in 24 hours:

1. Know your audience (and tone)

Before we started any pitch planning we took the time to fully understand our audience and soon realised that we had three potential groups, each with very different demographics and motivations for investing (our customers, seasoned Crowdcube-ers and business contacts). Once we had this clear in our head we made sure we tailored our communication to suit each group.

2. Utilise your circles (and their circles!)

Mike and I really brainstormed all our potential connections and made sure we asked everyone to share with their circles for maximum exposure. In the end, we had investors from: Secondary school, family and friends, university college, university business school, suppliers of Bird & Blend, Stockists, past employers, past employees, team members, old sports teams, press contacts, contacts from networking events, local community groups, charities we have supported.. the list goes on.

3. Warm up your community

As with many businesses that started small we knew our passionate and loyal followers would want to get involved. But many of our customers had never heard of crowdfunding before so we had to make sure we had a clear message that addressed the main questions they may have: What is crowdfunding? Why is it important to Bird & Blend? What are the benefits for them? How do they get involved? We started this activity a month before we aimed to go live, aiming for each person to see it 3-5 times before the big day so they had plenty of time to learn about it.

4. Be realistic about your pre-agreements

Mike started having conversations with business contacts in the weeks coming up to the raise to try and secure investment. These conversations went really well and we made sure to keep a track of potential investments so we knew where we stood. We also made sure we covered all the potential barriers to investment during these conversations including risks, size of investment, when they would need to invest and how to actually do it on the platform. Remember many of your key early investors are very busy people so if you don’t make it easy for them to invest, they might not have time to do so.

5. Prepare your investors to be flexible

One of the things we could have done better is to warn our pre-registered community to be prepared to invest with urgency if needed. Many customers missed out as we had told them during our warm up marketing that we expected it to take weeks, rather than hours, to hit our target! On the plus side, we now have a growing list of people to contact first next time!

Krisi Smith

Guest author: Krisi Smith Co-founder at Bird & Blend

Over the past 7+ years, Krisi has built her reputation as an expert in the tea industry - consulting for brands such as Unilever, Soho Farmhouse and Not on the High Street and published author of the World Atlas of Tea. Co-founder of Bird & Blend Krisi relocated from the midlands to the south coast with husband and business partner Mike Turner (and Arlo the Labradoodle) in 2014 to expand the business.