We've all heard about those crowdfunding deals where hundreds of thousands of pounds are raised in just a few hours. But what does it feel like to be part of a campaign like this - and how can you make it happen? We spoke to Ben Jeffries, founder of influencer marketing agency Influencer, about how they raised £100k in just 24 hours.
Influencer connects brands with famous individuals on social media (influencers). We deem someone to be an Influencer if they have over 10,000 followers. We break it up into two categories – Micro Influencers (our main focus), those Influencers with between 10,000 and 50,000 followers, and ‘Big Hitters’, those with over 50,000 followers who act more as celebrity endorsements.
Since I first had the idea in 2014, I really wanted to get a platform created for the business as I knew it would massively streamline everything I could personally manage. However, I faced the struggle of trying to raise investment without any proof of concept and there were no competitors in the market to showcase. I realised that I needed to focus on consistently generating revenue and providing a proof of concept of the business to make it ‘investable’. A few months ago I felt I had reached this stage, and that’s when I knew it was time to start scaling and get the platform developed.
Due to the influx of people wanting to invest, I thought it would be best to allow as many people the opportunity as possible. This is why we opted to go down the Crowdcube route – we had a variety of people invest, from influencers themselves to energy tycoons. Here's our investment timeline - from pre-launch, to raising well over our target.
1 month before campaign start:
We were part of the Crowd10 accelerator programme led by Kirsty Ranger, described as the 'Queen of fundraising'. Together, the team and Crowd10 worked tirelessly on producing marketing plans and investor business plans at workshops. Our biggest obstacle was to remember there is a key distinction between a marketing promotion and a financial promotion – we weren’t chasing brands and influencers from the campaign, but purely investors.
1 week before campaign start:
As part of the plan, we needed to drum up interest in ‘Influencer Marketing’ – this included getting press releases out on the topic and letting our LinkedIn circle know that we would soon be raising capital. Word of mouth soon developed out of our inner circle and we had calls and emails coming from all over the world with interest of investment. Berlin, Hong Kong, South America – you name it.
1 day before campaign start:
We sent out an email to anyone who had expressed an interest in investing to say that we would go live on Crowdcube the following day at 5pm!
Hour 1 of the campaign being live:
50% funded already. Speechless. These investments were from a complete mix of people; not just people who had previously expressed interested, but also everyday investors from Crowdcube and business angels we’d taken a punt on emailing.
Hour 12 of the campaign being live - halfway:
Truth be told, I was unable to sleep at the excitement of the growth – it felt like every single time I’d check my phone I’d get an email from Crowdcube saying I’d received a new investment.
Hour 24 – funded!
Wow – what a response. All the potential investor meetings we had planned and investor meet-ups didn’t need to occur – we’d done it! However, we decided to push on for overfunding and ended up getting just over £150k.
1 week after campaign being live:
Gears in motion.
Now we will execute our plan for our investors. This includes the development of the platform accelerating – this is due for completion end of January 2017. Then we will start with our disruptive marketing campaign for it.
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