The startup launched its crowdfunding bid on the Seedrs platform targeting a minimum raise of £500,000 and has now come close to reaching the £1 million mark.
Co-founder Tom McGillycuddy, who has over eight years of experience in the investment management industry, says he’s passionate about bringing impact investing to “millions of individuals instead of just a few very rich institutions.” “We want to use impact investing to give financial education and financial inclusion to the people that need it,” he adds.
We spoke with the entrepreneur to find out more.
Why did you decide to go down the crowdfunding route?
Our initial plan was to raise an initial angel round of funding, get both our apps (iOS and Android) live and then launch a crowdfunding campaign for PR and user acquisition – that was always the strategy.
We’re an early-stage fintech with a focus on social impact and we’re a direct-to-consumer app so we’re at the cross section of a bunch of things that work really well on crowdfunding platforms.
What are your immediate plans with the investment?
The crowdfunding round will act as a springboard for us to pursue one of our many strategies of growing our user base and it’s also going to pave the way for another raise in the third or fourth quarter of this year.
We’ll probably bring a couple of more people into the team, but that’s not a major priority for us at the minute.
The plan over the next few months is really to spend more money on getting the product to where we want it to be, and figuring out which strategy works best for user acquisition.
What’s been your biggest challenge so far?
I’d say hiring high quality people in the early stages is difficult, but we’re slightly past that now and we’ve started to make some really good hires because we’ve made a bit of progress as a company.
But trying to convince really good people to leave more established jobs to leave and join us has been a challenge – it’s been slightly easier for us because people can attach themselves to our underlying mission. If we were just a normal investment app it would have been much harder.
How have you found the experience of fundraising?
Fundraising is not necessarily hard but it’s just a lot of time and effort; it takes you away from the business and it can be a drain on people’s time and energy.
Any plans to expand outside the UK?
We do have ambitions to be the leading impact investment app in all of Europe, in terms of the number of users and the highest engagement. But it’s all about getting it right in the UK first and then expanding to certain EU countries in 2020, like the Netherlands and the Nordics.
Our five-year vision is based on Europe and we have a goal of attracting 1.5 million users.
What’s it like being based in the North West?
I could meet a developer this afternoon in London with amazing experience and could start tomorrow – that just doesn’t happen here. It’s harder to hire high quality people rapidly. Finding good people can take 10 times as long.
If I wasn’t in London at the extent I am then fundraising would definitely have been harder, it’s just the sheer volume of investors in London is on a different scale.
The positive side is that you obviously get more attention because there aren’t as many fintech businesses in Liverpool and the North West. There’s a willingness for us to do well in the region.
There’s definitely a good will for people in the North West for doing well. In London we’re one of a million on the street. It’s not impossible to stand out but it’s definitely more challenging.
What’s been your highlight so far?
Winning the Rising Stars competition was great for us and I love telling the story of what we’re doing as a company and seeing that resonate with users and VCs. But I’d have to say that the team that we’ve built so far has been the real highlight!
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