Escapism and Crowdcube are offering talented travel, food or lifestyle-based entrepreneurs the chance to revolutionise their business. Successful applicants will be invited to pitch for a crowdfund worth up to £8 million, including up to £200k of media spend across Square Up Media's brands – Foodism, Escapism, Square Mile and Hedge.
Tour operator Much Better Adventures grew their business by funding through Crowdcube, so we talked to CMO and co-founder Sam Bruce to find out why they decided to raise funds in the first place, how the process worked for them, and what the new investment has enabled them to do.
When did you know you needed to seek funding?
Over the last couple of years, we’d seen a lot of enthusiasm from our community about our product. We already knew we wanted to raise more capital because of our ambition to grow an industry-leading adventure travel company and we felt there was something special about having our own customers own a piece of the pie and feeding into it in different ways, which immediately proved to be the case. We gauged interest within our community with an initial email and were blown away by the response. To be sure, we sent a second email saying there seems to be a lot of interest and asking if people were still interested, how much they would like to invest and whether they would be willing to do it before the end of the year. Again, we got a really good response. It was really exciting.
Was that a difficult decision?
Not at all. We were already very transparent as a business and like in previous rounds we've done, we didn’t just want to raise investment for the money; we wanted added value - crowdfunding gives you that and then some. It gives you brand evangelists forevermore - we now have over 700 more brand evangelists passionately shouting about our – well, their – company. It’s connected us with some really clever and interesting people with great ideas, so we’ve gained far more than just capital. We go on adventures with our new investors which is a brilliant way to get to know them better, share our plans and get them fully engaged in what we're all building here.
Why did you choose Crowdcube?
There are a lot of brilliant platforms out there for startups to use. We scoped them all out and decided Crowdcube provided the most value and support for the amount we were looking to raise. We immediately liked the team and had been impressed with some of the campaigns they'd run for other consumer brands. Crowdcube was definitely the right decision for us and I'd certainly recommend them to other founders considering crowd. I see they've just launched their own fundraiser and will definitely be getting involved!
What have the funds enabled MBA to do?
We’ve used the new funds to hire some really great people who have helped expand our range of experiences around the world, brilliant content around it and long-term marketing initiatives.
What indispensable piece of advice would you give someone considering a raise?
Invest good time and money in shooting a proper video. I'm glad we didn't scrimp on the video. We worked with a really good, experienced production company that had filmed this kind of video before and got useful advice from them. Trying to get your whole company plus interviews into just three minutes can be surprisingly difficult! Also, email your network and see not only how many people would be interested in theory, but ask how much they might be interested in investing and how quickly they can move. That gives you your realistic target and deadline for going live. The other important things to work out well ahead of time are the rewards you give investors; ours went down really well and encouraged people to properly engage in the product after they'd invested which was important to us.
To start your own Crowdcube raise, and to be in with a chance of winning a share in £200,000 of media spend with Square Up Media, click here