Posted: Fri 1st Jul 2016
In a series of monthly posts, supported by GoCardless, Enterprise Nation is featuring companies that have raised money. We're asking the founders to tell us how they went about it and to share tips for other business owners considering doing the same.
Next up is Charlie Thuillier, founder of Oppo, the creator of 'guilt free' luxury ice cream.
How old is your business?
We launched in October 2014 but I quit my job to found Oppo nearly four years ago in September 2012! It took that long to create the ice cream.
How much money have you raised?
We've raised Â£650,000 from two rounds of crowdfunding. We became the world's fastest food or drink company to reach target (we did it in two minutes) and the most over funded campaign Seedrs has ever had. We now have 670 investors, including tennis champion Andy Murray.
Why did you raise the funds?
To grow! We ballooned from just one member of staff in October 2014 (me!) to 10 staff six months later. We also have dozens of brand ambassadors.
What was your secret to success in raising the money?
There's an awful lot of money out there. It's just about speaking to the right people, in the right way. There isn't really a secret or one key ingredient, it's a combination of good decisions over a long period of time which will result in a successful raise. See my final answer for tips of how to raise, but if I could give one reason why I believe we succeeded, it would be that we didn't underestimate the challenge. We went all in, started early, and most importantly got people emotionally invested months before asking them to become financially invested.
What surprised you most about the fundraising process?
The speed! If you go about it the right way people are incredibly keen to invest!
How naive some companies can be in asking for a sky high valuation, or expecting it to be a super simple, pain free process. Expect it to be a challenge and put the hours in. It becomes a full time job for a few weeks.
What tips would you offer to anyone else looking to raise funds?
Be passionate about your business. If you aren't passionate and able to convey that, no-one else will be.
Know your stuff: your business, product, competition, market, reason to raise and what you will use the money for, how much you want, be able to back up the valuation, and listen.
Listen. Don't just sell to potential investors, listen to what they have to say about your company, and listen to their intentions. You need to attract the right people, who are in it for the right reasons. Why do they want to be a part of what you are doing?
Don't underestimate the work it will involve. Respect the challenge. You are asking people for their hard earned money, and the likelihood of your business failing is hugely greater than succeeding. Would you invest in you?
Don't be greedy with big lofty valuations. Even if you convince people your business is worth that amount of money, you now need to spend years delivering on that promise. It's often best to be conservative and not have to devalue your business at a later date.
Show me the money! is supported by GoCardless, a simple way to take recurring payments and to get paid on time, every time.
Also in the series: