Posted: Thu 4th May 2023
Rockit co-founder Matt Dyson was one of the winners of the Small Business Goes Big competition hosted by Enterprise Nation and Adobe last year. His winning poster – which he designed using the Adobe Express app – was displayed on digital screens up and down the country and eventually seen by over one million people.
Matt also knows what it takes for crowdfunding to be successful. He and his team beat their crowdfunding target and overfunded to raise £253,000 in May 2018. Rockit had only launched its stroller rocker six months earlier, so exceeding its £200,000 investment target so soon after starting trading was a massive achievement.
You can hear Matt tell the story of Rockit's crowdfunding journey in this Lunch and Learn webinar from March. But there were lots of questions that he didn't have time to answer on the day, and other tips that he thought might be useful. He shares them with us here in this interview.
Why did you opt for crowdfunding rather than conventional angel or VC investment?
We realised we could use crowdfunding in two ways. First, to get the investment, which is obviously massively important, but also to use it as an opportunity to shout about the brand and about the product.
The publicity that comes alongside doing a very public raise on a platform like Crowdcube was critical. It was certainly right for us.
What preparation did you have to do before your campaign went live?
Despite the growth in crowdfunding platforms like Crowdcube and Seedrs – and the number of investors who invest through them – you can't just rely on your chosen platform to deliver you investors.
You need to get the ball rolling and find your first investors in order to capture the attention of "the crowd" (the people you don't know). We managed to reach 40% of our funding target before going live on Crowdcube.
The campaign got off to a flying start, as other investors could see from the progress bar on our campaign page that we already had lots of investment.
What are the key things you should prepare prior to any equity crowdfunding campaign?
This is a brief summary of your business and features on the crowdfunding platform. It includes the key details about your business and the milestones to date. It also includes:
the 'ask' (how much you wish to raise)
brief details about your team
any additional rewards you might offer investors, depending on their level of investment
A set of slides that outline:
your business's or product's unique selling point (USP)
the traction you've achieved so far
the experience within your team
the market opportunity
the 'ask' and how you'll use the investment
testimonials from advocates of your brand or respected industry figures
A short video (three to four minutes) that brings the vision for your business or product to life and demonstrates your team's experience and enthusiasm. Vox-pop-style testimonials from people respected in your industry are an excellent way to demonstrate that you have credibility.
We produced brief summary documents for all potential investors, and more detailed documents for more experienced investors who asked for extra information. We made sure we'd backed up all our forecasts and assumptions with notes to explain them in detail.
Watch Matt explain how eye-catching branding can help you secure the best outcome with your crowdfunding.
How much time did it take to prepare your campaign?
We started planning three or four months before launch. That may seem like a long lead time but preparation is key! It gives you time to identify all the potential investors in your various personal and professional networks and start conversations with them.
A good tip is to get feedback on all your campaign materials – video, pitch deck and campaign page – before you finalise them. This is something we did repeatedly with both the Crowdcube team, but also via feedback from experienced investors within our personal networks.
What promotional activities did you undertake to bring "the crowd" to your pitch?
We promoted the raise on all our social media platforms, posting regular updates about the campaign but also about key successes within the business generally.
LinkedIn was important, but we didn't neglect Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, as we knew it was important to get smaller investments from our followers on these platforms.
These small but regular investments were pivotal to keeping our pitch towards the top of Crowdcube's investment opportunities page.
While we were live, we signed several distribution deals around the world and we also won several design and consumer awards. These successes were very timely and we gained local and national press coverage off the back of them.
We were able to mention that we were raising equity in our press releases and this certainly encouraged investment during the campaign.
We were also lucky to be featured on ITV's This Morning and on Channel 4's Buy it Now during the campaign and that drove lots of traffic to our website, where we had a landing page promoting our raise.
How did Crowdcube promote your pitch?
The amount of marketing our pitch received depended on the volume of traffic to, and activity on, our pitch page.
We knew that performing well would increase the number of Crowdcube mailings and investor newsletters we'd feature in. The key was for us to maintain a buzz and keep us at or near the top of the Crowdcube's investor opportunities page.
How important was keeping your campaign 'on-brand'?
This was vital, both in terms of the 'look' of all our assets, but also the tone of voice. Our pitch deck, video, marketing comms and even our financials had to look on-brand to demonstrate consistency.
Many of our larger investors commented on the attention to detail we'd shown in this respect. We didn't use an agency or have a design team to help with this – we produced all the assets in-house. Packages like Adobe Express can really help to generate the creative quickly and to a professional standard.
Is crowdfunding time-consuming? And how do you stay motivated and committed during the campaign?
It's certainly challenging running a crowdfunding campaign while also maintaining the day-to-day running of the business! Our days were long and we often found ourselves emailing responses to potential investors late into the night.
There were days when the investments were slower to arrive than we would've liked. It was really useful having a plan in advance to promote the campaign, using different channels to increase engagement on these quieter days.
Finally, what would be your top crowdfunding tip?
As a team, we wrote down every single question that we feared an investor would ask us during the campaign. We then discussed the possible responses and had them ready for when the raise went live. It's important to respond to investors' questions in detail as quickly as possible.
We also structured the campaign so that we were answering as many questions as possible in the pitch deck, video and financials. We made sure we could back up everything with evidence and demonstrated any assumptions were validated in as much detail as possible.