After a pretty unsuccessful attempt to raise investment from angel investors, I decided to try and raise investment via ‘the crowd’ for goCarShare, my startup.
We opted for Seedrs, their team were exceptionally helpful and gave us some good practical advice, but there were other things that I learnt from speaking to people who had run similar campaigns, and from trying it ourselves too.
I’m massively excited about the potential future opportunity for the crowdfunding space – I thought I’d share some thoughts here in case they help people get started:
Use a video to tell your story
A common theme amongst businesses that don’t attract interest is that nearly all of them had made close to no effort with the video of their pitch.
Videos for successful pitches tend to focus much more on the story than the financials – the financial viability of the business can be validated elsewhere, but first you need to get people to buy into you and your vision.
It is worth pre planning a bit, I did spend time preparing a storyboard of the outline of our video. It’s also worth getting someone to shoot and edit the video properly, this can be expensive but try through friends and maybe try students or recent graduates.
I contacted investors who had invested in similar startups on the platform via LinkedIn when the campaign launched to introduce what we were doing.
When people invested, I mentioned this publicly on Twitter. I tried to keep the whole campaign fun and light-hearted. When things got a little desperate – we were a long way of our campaign with less than a week to go, I resorted to a little bit of bribery – ‘sweets for tweets’ and headed around Google Campus and Wayra handing out Haribo in return for a plug on Twitter. Sometimes it pays to have no shame.
There’s no substitute for getting out and pitching investors. We did a pitch called the Seedrs Mixer, specifically for investors on the Seedrs platform, which led to a few investors coming on board.
With hindsight, I would have booked myself onto as many pitches as possible before the campaign started to make sure that the investor community knew about what we were doing. Here are some events that I know about it (I can’t vouch for how good they are):
City Meets Tech, Lions Cage, Silicon Roundabout, TechHub Demo nights – I’m sure there are others but I did struggle to find them at the time.
One thing that I think is incredibly important, and for which we got good feedback for is answering investors’ questions on the online Q&A board appropriately.
So timely responses, even when investors ask questions at unusual times of the day, being polite, answering directly and clearly and addressing key points are all appreciated.
I’m not sure crowdfunding is right for everyone, if you have got an exciting consumer proposition or are already making good revenue you’ll be in a strong position, but for some businesses other means of finance might be more effective.
It has been a long process, there has been a huge time cost involved. But ultimately we will get 145 new people vested into our business who are going to be our biggest advocates, who are going to tweet about us, who are going to tell their friends in the pub, and who knows? May even choose to invest in us again when we raise follow on investment.
If you are considering crowdfunding, let’s have a chat, I’m more than happy to share my thoughts.