The £1m club: where are they now?

  • Friday 17th November 2017
  • by Crowdcube

Since Crowdcube was founded 6 years ago, we have helped to fund over 70 businesses with campaign targets of £1m or more. We've caught up with a few of them to see how the funds have helped them to grow, hear the benefits of having a crowd of investors, and see what their plans are for the future.

Freetrade: Viktor Nebehaj, Head of Growth

What are the benefits of being backed by a crowd of investors?

Hiring
For us, crowdfunding worked as a recruitment tool, as I was in fact hired via Crowdcube! I worked seven years at Google, and after moving to the UK from Asia, I was glad to find that equity crowdfunding was a "thing" here. It's fantastic to get access to early-stage companies, the domain of angel investors and VCs, through a safe and reliable platform.

Also, as a stock market investor, I was on the prowl for an equivalent of Robinhood in the UK, and was disappointed to see it didn't exist. Imagine my surprise when Freetrade popped up on my Crowdcube feed. I instantly pledged what was quite a high amount for me, and I turned out to be the very first investor to put in a large amount who wasn't a friend or a family member of the founders. Being the first of so many, I think I caught the attention of our CEO Adam, and that led to a long conversation over a year, and when the time was right I mustered up the courage to ask him for a formal interview.

Marketing and community building
A campaign is also an opportunity to call attention to your product. Crowdcube has a sophisticated audience with disposable income, and we've seen signups as a result of our campaign. To me, there seems to be an overlap between investor and consumer. People mostly invest into what they know and understand (whether that's craft beer or a banking app), so it's an opportunity to convert them into customers. A community around your product cannot be overrated, and Crowdcube is an excellent platform to start building it.

Advice from the community
A crowd of investors means a crowd of expertise you can tap - our community is aligned with our success, and happy to provide tips and advice. When we looked for a Head of Finance we received an email from a community member who qualified for the role. Unfortunately, he didn't want to apply, but he gave good input into what salary figures similarly qualified applicants would expect.

How has the company progressed since raising funds?
Most importantly, we just received full authorisation from the FCA. For us, as a challenger stockbroker, this is equivalent to a challenger bank getting their full banking license. When we start rolling out early next year, we can open real client accounts right away, even in the initial invitation-only (private beta) phase.

Authorisation also means there will be no middlemen involved, which will significantly lower our brokerage costs. In true Freetrade style, the savings will be passed on to our users. The main reason we were able to do this is because our campaign overfunded by 360% to £1.1 million. We raised more than we expected, which we invested in the platform.

Other than that, we've hired a team! We have a design lead arriving soon, followed by a Head of Compliance and Head of Finance. We have quite a few roles open, as we build out our engineering and stockbroking operations, so if you want to join one of the most anticipated fintech startups in London, check out our openings.

What are your plans for the future of the business?
In the short term, we are intensely focused on the upcoming roll-out, so that's our singular goal for now. Looking ahead, I think that a lot of people in the UK live paycheck to paycheck, millennial or otherwise. If we can long-term change that trend, and make investing a lot more affordable and more something that people want to do, that would be a success to us. We want to be the go-to investment app for everyone under 40 in Europe. We want to build a company with tremendous impact, a company that defines the category and improves the lives of as many people as possible. I think we're on a good path to that, but we have a lot of work left to do.

LoveSpace: Steve Folwell, Founder and CEO

What are the benefits of being backed by a crowd of investors?

Everyone assumes it must be a hassle having over 500 investors to handle. Quite the opposite. It’s like having a huge subs bench with all the talent you could ask for on your side and ready to call upon. Our crowd of investors have been customers, recruiters, advisors, partners, suppliers and cheerleaders!

How has the company progressed since raising funds?
We have raised twice on Crowdcube (£1.6m in June 2014 and £0.7m in May 2016). In the two years before our first and second crowd round, revenues grew from under £100k to over £1m and the value of each investor’s investment grew over two times. Since our last investment we have brought the business to real scale; looking after 100k boxes in the last twelve months on behalf of around 10,000 customers. We have invested significantly in getting the LOVESPACE message out to customers via tube and TV advertising and launched three apps for customers, drivers and warehouse operators.

What are your plans for the future of the business?
We want to keep growing and to prove we can be the best in the world at moving and storing things! We have ambitious plans to serve a broader customer base including people doing full house moves, and businesses needing help delivering top-notch ecommerce fulfillment. We also plan to launch overseas in selected markets.

Sugru: Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh, Founder and CEO

What are the benefits of being backed by a crowd of investors?

There are numerous benefits for a company choosing to go down the equity crowdfunding route. Not only is the crowdfunding process a great way to advertise and reach potential new customers, it also builds stronger loyalty with existing customers especially those who choose to invest. Done well it’s a genuine opportunity to build a brand as well as a company. It’s also a long term relationship, where your backers are genuine investors who are interested in sharing in the success of the business. It can be a lot more time intensive than traditional ways of raising finance, but for companies that have lots of frequent contact with customers and are supported by mini communities, then a hard working equity crowdfunding campaign can be worth much more than simply money in the bank.

How has the company progressed since raising funds?

We invested heavily in our future-focused research and development projects, which has lead to the recent launch of our new Family-Safe | Skin-Friendly Sugru. It's a huge milestone for us, and puts us in a great position to encourage even more people to start fixing and making again.

What are your plans for the future of the business?

Most recently Sugru has been successfully launched in France, South Africa and Canada, with plans in place to launch in Australia and New Zealand by the the end of 2017. Currently more than 6,000 retail outlets stock Sugru and we're hoping to double this by the end of 2018.

To check out the companies currently looking for funding on Crowdcube, click here.