When you're starting a business there are various options available when it comes to funding, and it's important to find the right one for you. StartUp Loans provided by Virgin StartUp have helped thousands of businesses get off the ground - one of which is Content Eleven, an exciting platform that is a content marketplace breathing new air into the world of stock photos, video and images. Content creators can work directly with the platform to provide quality content to those who need it, while also getting a better deal. Here's how a Virgin StartUp loan helped founder Christy Lindsay.
Tell us a little about your business
Content Eleven brings vibrancy and originality back to content buying: it’s the smart alternative to using tired stock libraries. We devised a digital platform that offers a new way to buy images, video and audio directly from the content creators themselves. We champion non-stocky, original content where you set the budget, and the creatives come to you.
What stage were you at when you received a Virgin StartUp loan?
Right at the beginning, pre-build. We had a great idea and we had tested the theory by carrying out in-depth market research with professional content buyers and sellers. We were confident we had a good product, but we needed the loan to build an MVP of the platform.
How did you find the process of applying for one?
Tough, but undoubtedly in a good way. The process made you think incredibly objectively about our business. Is there a market? Can it make money? How will it make money? The process had a profound impact on our commercial offering and helped us shape our competitive advantages.
What did the loan enable you to do?
The loan allowed us to put all our ideas into practice and successfully launch our business. We were able to employ a team of fantastic software developers, Shed Collective, to build the platform over the next 9 months. It also enabled us to get the legal and marketing support to launch the business.
What was the impact on your business?
The impact was huge - without it we literally wouldn't be here. Content Eleven launched on 15th November 2017 and we’ve got over 200 members on the site so far.
Why did you choose a Start Up Loan from Virgin StartUp over other sources of finance?
We choose Virgin StartUp for a number of reasons. Initially, we were looking for investor funding but it quickly became apparent that it was too early, and it is only now that we are looking for investors. The way it was described to me was that investors want to see you sweat - as in, they want to see that you are willing to risk something too. It helps entrepreneurs stay focused if it's their money that's on the line. It also put us in a much stronger position with potential investors as having something concrete has meant that we are much more attractive and we now don't have to give so much of the business away in the next round of funding. They also have a fixed interest rate of 6%, which was attractive to us.
What have been the other benefits you've seen?
Definitely, one of the main benefits of a Start Up Loan from Virgin StartUp is being matched with a business mentor. Every successful loan is assigned a free business mentor for a year, and I was lucky enough to be assigned Mitali Chopra, who not only is a professional business coach but also had a long and varied business career as well. She has helped me make some of the most difficult decisions in the first year and I’m still seeing her once a month, even though the Virgin mentoring has ended.
The other benefit is gaining funding from a well-regarded lender such as Virgin comes with a certain amount of kudos. It’s seen as an indication to investors that your business is worth looking at because they know you have been through Virgin StartUp's rigorous application process, and probably helps you get to the top of the pile.
Any tips for other businesses considering a loan?
It sounds a bit strange, but if you are considering a Start Up Loan from Virgin StartUp but unsure if its right for you, start the application process. You will quickly work out if it’s right for you, and the deeper you go in the process the more insight you will gain. Another tip is when you are considering the size of your loan always factor in some money for marketing - 50% development and 50% marketing is not an unrealistic target. Lastly be patient with the process and believe in your idea. Actually getting the loan takes a long time and the process is hard work and they ask some difficult questions, but it's incredibly worthwhile and you absolutely will have a better business from going through it.
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