Connectd, a platform that brings together founders and potential investors to help maximise the chances of success without relying on connections, has announced the completion of a $1 million seed funding round.
The investment was led by Nigel Wray, the owner of Saracens, who has previously invested in Nutmeg and Domino’s Pizza. He was joined by LiFE Ventures, Yobi Partners’ Toni Nijm and ABC Investors’ Steve Castle. Connectd plans to use the funding to expand their team and reach, supporting even more founders to build their businesses.
A platform based on need
Roei Samuel, Connectd’s co-founder, started his first company, RealSport, while still at university, going on to sell it to Gfinity when he was 26. He subsequently became an investor himself. However, his experience on both sides of the relationship made him realise that the current system was not as efficient as it could be.
“One of the reasons we started this business,” he explained to UKTN, “is that I didn’t come from a situation where I had lots of family connections where I could go and raise capital.” Although VC firms will have publicity and websites making it clear what they invest in, the difficulty for founders was making those early contacts and connections.
“The big problem in the ecosystem is at the earliest stage, when you need to go and find individuals,” Samuel says. “The individual probably doesn’t have a website. If they’re an angel investor, what does that mean? They could look at biotech, they could look at FinTech, it’s not clear at all.” But investors have similar problems too.
Samuel found as an investor that his time was easily consumed by existing projects, acting as a barrier to new investment. “Most investors are running their own projects and managing their existing portfolios. And then on top of that, finding time to do due diligence, do origination, get transacting, is a full-time job in and of itself,” said Samuel. The irony was that in a startup sector that values innovation, relatively little innovation had been applied to the way the founders and investors connected to make things happen.
Solving the funding problem
Connectd’s aim is, simply, to overcome the hurdles on both sides. The platform provides a single point of access for both, ensuring both sides can have a clear view of what the other offers. Samuel says that the structure and transparency it creates can create a fairer market, “traditionally, this world of connecting has been very relationship-based. But we know that that’s incredibly exclusionary. We apply a product and a data lens to bring these people together, which can really level the playing field.”
Connectd can provide founders with data about investors, so they know their interests, expertise, and previous funding. This enables them to easily identify potential investors. The platform also has several reporting tools, so investors can easily see what the businesses are about and how they are performing.
It also features other sources of support for founders. “We plug in advisors, mentors and non-execs, as well,” says Samuel. This means that startups who might not be looking for investment yet can still seek support to help them progress on their journey.
Building on early successes
Connectd launched in February 2020, shortly before the UK lockdown, but has seen strong growth. Since their formal launch it has averaged 15% growth every month, and despite only officially launching in the UK, now has customers in around 15 countries.
Over 100 businesses have used the platform to raise capital, the largest so far being a $2.6 million Series A round in spring 2021. Samuel is finding that, as startups find success on the platform, it is stimulating further growth through the network effects: “founders who love the platform, onboard their investors. Investors who love the platform, onboard their founders.”
Connectd intends to use the funding to expand as rapidly as possible, building on the natural growth they have already experienced. The plan is to double their — they were actively recruiting to 20 roles as the funding round closed — and to formally launch in other regions. The initial aim is to expand into three or four new territories within the next twelve months.
Their main goal, though, is to fulfil their mission of introducing founders and investors. Samuel told UKTN, “Connectd brings people together based on what they know, not who they know. For us, it’s about empowering as many people as possible.”
Interview by Akansha Srivastava