"The most important benefit of working with SETsquared has been the introductions. Robin Jackson, who runs the Innovation Centre, has been constantly introducing me to people."
Darren Westlake, CEO and co-founder, Crowdcube
- Start date: 2010
- Website: www.crowdcube.com
- Market sector: Finance
- Location: Exeter
- Investment raised: more than £16 million for more then 80 UK businesses
- Number of employees: 16
- office space
- investor readiness training
- graduate placements
Crowdcube is an innovative way to fund start-ups and business expansion by crowdfunding. Crowdcube is the world's first equity-based crowdfunding platform. Dedicated to helping UK-based businesses raise finance, Crowdcube provides a Web-based platform where entrepreneurs can showcase their business's investment potential to a nation of 'Armchair Dragon' investors in return for equity. This revolutionary model for raising business finance empowers entrepreneurs to bypass traditional business angel networks, venture capital firms and banks to secure funding by connecting them directly with members of the public. Crowdcube is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority (No. 572026).
Since its launch in 2011 Crowdcube has successfully secured more than £6.7 million investment in UK businesses. The website has over 33,000 registered investors who have invested between £10 and £100,000.
What was the vision for the company and what problem were you aiming to solve?
"My background is in running my own businesses – this is my third. The challenge I faced with my with other businesses was raising money. You can have all the contacts and a great idea, but finance is never easy to get for small businesses – and now it's harder than ever."
"Having brainstormed about this, we realised that the business angel concept worked well but there weren't enough angels. Crowdcube solves that problem."
February 2011: launches Crowdcube platform, the first ever equity-based crowdfunding platform
December 2011: total funding raised by platform reaches £2.1 million
October 2012: reaches 25,000 members
December 2012: funding raised in 2012 hits £4.8 million
February 2013: becomes authorised by the Financial Services Authority (FSA)
November 2013: total funding raised by platform reaches £16.2 million, with over 51,000 registered investors
"Soon after we launched, we met a potential client at the Exeter Innovation Centre, and it was amazing: modern, light and warm. We found out we could move to an affordable co-working environment with a hot desk."
"We've moved twice since then within the Innovation Centre. We're about to move again as we're looking to bring on another eight or nine people –the Innovation Centre gives us the flexibility grow and expand without too much hassle."
"Knowing that we're stable and supported at the Innovation Centre, and that we don't have to think about finding new premises as we expand, has been a big help. Start-ups have enough worries."
"There were other start-ups in the Innovation Centre, so it was great to share problems, knowledge and challenges and to help each other out when possible."
"My first business was on a science park where we felt like a tenant, not part of a network. At the Exeter Innovation Centre, in contrast, it is very much encouraged to share experiences and mix with other businesses. There is a fantastic space at the end of the building with a café and meeting area which is well used, and where we tend to meet people."
"The most important benefit of working with SETsquared has been the introductions. Robin Jackson, who runs the Innovation Centre, has been constantly introducing me to people, which has helped both in getting further exposure and getting advice. Robin is well-connected, and generous in thinking about us a lot of the time."
"We've also spoken at events organised by SETsquared such as IGNITE in Southampton, and at the Met Office."
"I'm on the UKTI's Passport to Export programme, and we're looking to take Crowdcube into other countries. We're launching in Sweden at the moment, and looking to launch in Brazil."
"As well as consolidating our business in the UK, we want to be in six or seven countries by the end of this year, and 25 countries within two or three years."