As we continue to hurtle through January, we wanted to take some time out to look back on the last decade. And what a decade it was! In 2010, Crowdcube was nothing more than a twinkle in Luke and Darren’s eyes. In that post-recession world, it seemed harder than ever for new ideas to break through and become a reality. There was no structured way for everyday investors, customers and fans to support the businesses they loved at that time, either. Enter Crowdcube. As with any startup, growing the business has taken grit, determination and lots of breakthrough moments.
Here are our 10 favourite moments:
Breakthrough #1: We funded our first pitch
One of our earliest breakthroughs was back in 2011, when our first pitch reached 100% funded. This early campaign successfully generated £75k thanks to 82 investors. It also took 149 days to fund. Thankfully, the process doesn’t take quite so long these days…
This was the first time a business was able to fuel its growth through equity crowdfunding, rather than having to go through more traditional channels. It spurred us on in our mission to make equity investment accessible for all.
Did you know? We launched Crowdfunder.co.uk in 2010 while waiting for the green light from the Financial Services Authority (now the Financial Conduct Authority) to launch Crowdcube. It’s gone on to be a huge success in its own right.
Breakthrough #2: Escape the City turned down VC funding
The following year, Escape the City changed the game by turning down offers from two Venture Capital Firms in favour of launching a crowdfunding campaign with us. This was a pivotal moment, as we were still considered to be something of an underdog at this point. The team went on to raise £600k, raising 90% of that within a week of launching.
Here’s what the Escape The City team had to say on their decision: “We wanted Escape the City to be true to its ethos and mission. Accepting funding from the very institutions that we chose to escape from did not sit right with us. We wanted to share our journey with those who believed in it, and we wanted to build a business and organisation on our terms, not the terms of institutional investors.”
Did you know? The demand surrounding Escape the City’s campaign inspired us to introduce ‘overfunding’!
Breakthrough #3: We helped change FCA regulations
We experienced another exciting breakthrough in 2014, as we led the charge for new equity crowdfunding regulations. This was seen as a significant step forward for the industry, with those same regulations still going strong today. These changes have helped build market confidence and have acted as the benchmark for other countries to imitate.
Did you know? Bootstrapping in 2010 meant Crowdcube's first office was so cold Darren and Luke needed to wear fingerless gloves and long johns.
Breakthrough #4: Our first Funded Club exit
In 2015, a worldwide first saw seed investors in E-Car Club celebrate a full return on their investment as the company was acquired.
E-Car Club, the UK’s first entirely electric car sharing club, raised £100k in 2013, thanks to 63 investors. These investors received a multiple return following the sale of the business to Europcar.
This paved the way for other businesses to follow in their footsteps, such as Camden Town Brewery. They raised £2.75m later in 2015 with help from 2,173 beer enthusiasts. Just a few months on it was bought by Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), the largest brewer in the world. This delivered multiple returns to those early brand advocates. This trend has continued to grow with lots of other businesses going on to exit, such as Wool and the Gang, Revolut and many more.
Did you know? A well-known Dragon almost became one of our earliest investors.
Breakthrough #5: Investors backed businesses alongside VCs
In 2015, JustPark invited its user base to join its journey as shareholders. For the first time, outside of our own 2014 raise, everyday investors were able to back a business alongside VCs. JustPark closed the round with £3.51m.
New shareholders joined JustPark’s existing backers: BMW i Ventures, the venture capital arm of automotive giant BMW; and Index Ventures, one of Europe’s leading technology investors whose previous successes include Skype, Dropbox and Just-Eat. This also demonstrated the growing trend towards more established organisations with strong entrepreneurial teams opting to raise growth finance with us.
Did you know? We very nearly did a fundraise with One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson for a top-secret project.
Breakthrough #6: Monzo raised £1m in 96 seconds
Skip forward to 2016 and the mighty Monzo sent records flying after raising £1m in just 96 seconds. That’s a long way from £75k in five months. With £5 million already committed by Passion Capital, one of Europe's leading early-stage VC funds, Monzo turned down additional investment offers from notable international investors in order to include its customers in the investment round.
Monzo went on to break more crowdfunding records in their 2018 round, bringing their valuation up to a whopping £1bn. This made them our third Funded Club Unicorn.
Did you know? Our original platform was built for just €12k. The Bulgarian software agency insisted on non-verbal communication, which meant that Darren and Luke had to brief the engineers and designers over messenger and email. Painful!
Breakthrough #7: We funded 3 unicorns
We’re so proud to say that we’ve helped fuel the growth of three unicorns over the last decade. BrewDog became our first in 2017, with Revolut and Monzo joining them the following year.
BrewDog’s ‘Equity for Punks’ campaign moulded crowdfunding into what it is today, thanks to the founders’ desire to rally their superfans and turn them into craft beer crusaders. Revolut and Monzo have also experienced massive growth, with each rapidly expanding their customer base in recent years.
In 2019, Beauhurst released a report that revealed out of the 16 active UK unicorns, we’ve helped fuel the growth of 3 - that’s 19% of the herd.
Did you know? We were the champions of the Exeter Pancake Races in 2016 and 2017. Yes, it’s a real thing.
Breakthrough #8: Our wonderful makeover
By 2019, the world was a different place to when we first set out. Our brand needed to change with it. So we asked our community, starting with the Cubers (the people working at Crowdcube who make the magic happen), our entrepreneurs and our investors why Crowdcube exists and what meaningful difference we create. There was a remarkable consensus, and it focused on celebrating the businesses we help fund and the impact they have on the world, big or small.
Funding the Wonderful is about fuelling the next generation of businesses who want to leave their mark on the world. It’s our origin, motivation and future. It’s about a new breed of business looking to challenge the status quo with new thinking and big ideas. These challengers have an inspiring vision for a better future. They have an ambition to leave their mark on the world, whatever it may be, and a desire to bring their customers on that journey. Read more on our rebrand, here.
Did you know? The one that got away. We had a meeting to help Deliveroo raise investment before they were famous. This was when they were just starting out, well before they were a household name, and we thought they were bonkers - delivering takeaway by bike! Doh!
Breakthrough #9: ID Finance became our largest international raise
Over the years we’ve supported raises for fantastic entrepreneurs from across the globe, including Ireland, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden and more. The five largest international campaigns to date took place in 2019. This includes Barcelona-based ID Finance, which currently takes the top spot; the team raised a record-breaking €5.2m in October 2019.
Belgium E-bike business Cowboy takes silver, having raised €4.3m, and Muroexe, a Madrid-based shoe company, takes bronze with €2.8m. These record-breaking figures show how investors around the world are backing inspiring businesses. Read more on that, here.
Did you know? Over the last decade, we’ve welcomed 22 Crowdcube babies into the world!
Breakthrough #10: We celebrated our 1,000th funded pitch
And finally, at the end of 2019 we celebrated a very special milestone. Andersen EV successfully hit its target of £300,000, crowning this our 1,000th funded campaign. Andersen EV specialises in powerful, customisable charging points, allowing customers to charge electric vehicles from the comfort of their own homes. The Cleantech is one of our Funded Club veterans, having previously raised £726k thanks to over 800 investors in 2018.
Reaching our 1,000th raise shows a stunning commitment and continuity of the crowd to the inspiring businesses that choose to raise with Crowdcube. Our entrepreneurs show they understand why building connected communities can be a driver for exceptional commercial success, like with Monzo, Revolut, BrewDog and Chip.
Did you know? We considered calling Crowdcube 'Fundr' at one point!