Startups 100 alumnus raises £1.5m in minutes through crowdfunding

Startups 100 alumnus The Cheeky Panda continues to grow its business hugely effectively through crowdfunding – raising £1.5m in minutes in its latest public funding round.

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Here at Startups, we’re big fans of The Cheeky Panda. The sustainable lifestyle brand is packed full of personality and – by using bamboo instead of paper for its kitchen roll, toilet tissue, baby wipes, nappies and straws – it’s helping to save the planet too.

They featured in the Startups 100 in both 2020 and 2021, and we recently wrote about how the company is now worth £75m just five years after launch.

This phenomenal growth is testament to the power of sustainable business ideas – for more inspiration, check out our top sustainability business ideas for 2022.

Crowdfunding has been key to this rise and is a strategy that The Cheeky Panda continues to employ – with its new public funding round attracting thousands of new investors and raising £1.5m in minutes.

Here, we analyse the company’s crowdfunding approach in more detail and explain how it fits into The Cheeky Panda’s overall funding strategy.

What crowdfunding platform is The Cheeky Panda using?

The Cheeky Panda uses the equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs to raise funds.

What this means is that, in return for their cash, these investors receive shares in the company that can potentially then be sold for a profit down the line.

The big difference with crowdfunding of course is that each individual investor only needs to contribute a relatively small amount – the minimum investment is just £10.

For companies, equity crowdfunding is an easy way to use your existing customer base to fuel the growth of your business.

How does The Cheeky Panda view crowdfunding?

Discussing their approach to crowdfunding, The Cheeky Panda founders Chris Forbes and Julie Chen stress that it should be seen as more than just a way to raise money:

“Crowdfunding hasn’t just been about raising capital for Cheeky Panda, it’s been an active part of our brand building. We get our customers to engage with us at a much deeper level by being shareholders, and ensure that they also become brand advocates.

“Since 2016 we have become quite a big brand, and we wouldn’t have got this far this fast without all our supporters and shareholders.”

How many people have invested in The Cheeky Panda?

From previous rounds of crowdfunding, The Cheeky Panda had already signed up 4,000 investors who became shareholders in the company (or “Pandanauts”).

And this latest round has already attracted over 1,300 new investors, so in total over 5,300 people have invested in this rapidly growing scaleup.

Despite this, The Cheeky Panda remains founder-owned.

What rewards does The Cheeky Panda offer shareholders?

In order to stand out and encourage investors to become brand advocates, The Cheeky Panda offers rewards on top of merely owning a share in the company.

The reward tiers are shown below:

The Cheeky Panda crowdfunding reward tiers

As you can see, the rewards are designed to foster a sense of community, with even relatively modest investors invited to The Cheeky Panda shareholder conference and given exclusive merchandise that helps promote the brand.

And these efforts seem to be working, with The Cheeky Panda telling us that the average crowdfunding investment for the current round is a hefty £1.3k.

How much does The Cheeky Panda rely on crowdfunding?

Overall, The Cheeky Panda founders said that the company has been funded through a 50:50 split of crowdfunding and investment from high net worth (HNW) individuals.

So, while it may not have been the only thing powering the company’s impressive rise, it’s certainly played a hugely important role.

What’s next for The Cheeky Panda?

Having already got stocked in major retailers like Boots, Waitrose, Ocado and Amazon, ramping up its international expansion is next on the agenda.

The US and the EU are at the top of the list and, given just how far The Cheeky Panda has come in just five years, we wouldn’t bet against this distinctive and progressive brand making a real impact over there too.

Alec is Startups’ resident expert on politics and finance. He’s provided live updates on the budget, written guides on investing and property development, and demystified topics like corporation tax, accounting software, and invoice discounting. Before joining, he worked in the media for over a decade, conducting media analysis at Kantar Media and YouGov, and writing a wide variety of freelance pieces.

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