If you believe the time has come for your business to scale up, an important element is funding. How can you get the resources to take your business to the next level? There are many options, but an increasingly popular one is crowdfunding, enabling you to harness the people power of your existing fanbase. We chat to Louise Stevenson of Osha-Clean, a platform to connect dirty windows with professional window cleaners, about why they're choosing this method to scale up.
(Did you know we run an equity crowdfunding accelerator for startups looking to scale? Find out more here.)
At what stage did you realise your business was ready to scale up?
It was around 12 months in when we realised we were ready. We had run our pilot phase and proved that the concept was working with new window cleaning partners coming on board, customers booking and windows being cleaned! The business model, our processes and pricing structure had evolved over the year and it became clear that we were at a point where we needed to automate more of those processes in order to scale up quickly. Automation and web development need investment, and so we felt we were at the point of being ready for the next stage.
What made you decide to go for crowdfunding over other methods of raising capital?
Crowdfunding is a brilliant opportunity to expose the business, raise awareness of what we’re doing and give smaller investors the opportunity to get involved at an early stage. With crowdfunding the market are funding your business so you’re getting a group of really engaged supporters and potential customers.
What will scaling up entail for your business?
Scaling up for us is being able to automate our processes to enable more bookings to go through. Scaling up also means being able to offer window cleaning services nationwide and introduce new domestic maintenance services, such as gutter cleaning and wheelie bin cleaning in the future.
How have you prepared for your crowdfunding campaign?
Intensively! The key to crowdfunding is to be prepared. Start talking to supporters about your campaign early, and line up investors in advance so you’re already some of the way there when your campaign goes live. Be ready with as much of your marketing material beforehand so you can respond quickly and proactively, and also keep an eye on other entrepreneurs funding on your chosen platform so you can see how they’re doing, what sorts of questions they’re being asked and how they’re talking to investors.
Do you have a contingency plan?
Yes we do! It’s important to have a contingency plan – if things don’t quite go as you’d like, you don’t want your business to stall while you’re regrouping.
What will be the first thing you do to scale up?
We’re already talking to a number of web development suppliers so that we’re ready to get started on the next phase of our journey once the raise is over. We’ll be redeveloping our website, osha-clean.com, to make sure its even more user-friendly and so that window cleaners have access to a back-end system or mobile app which allows them to easily accept and confirm jobs.
Any other tips for startups looking to scale up via crowdfunding?
Do your research, watch other campaigns as they go live and how they manage their campaigns, and connect with other entrepreneurs doing the same. Get support where it’s available, as crowdfunding is definitely as hard work as it is exciting! Be prepared to be available to answer questions seven days a week and into the evening and also remember that you’ll be generating a lot of awareness for your business, so you’ll need resource to make sure the day-to-day operations can cope whilst you’re focusing on the raise.
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