Meet the UK equity crowdfunding success stories of 2016
Equity crowdfunding rounds are growing as alt-finance becomes mainstream. Find out which businesses raised over £1m from the crowd last year…
The UK is witnessing more equity crowdfunding rounds of over £1m than ever before and, year-on-year, early-stage and growth-stage businesses are setting crowdfunding records.
Craft beer specialist Brewdog raised a crowdfunding round in 2016 which was more than twice the size of previous record-breaker Chilango (read more on this below) and seven-figure investment sums have become commonplace.
We’ve certainly come a long way since our first crowdfunding showcase in 2014.
Forget its title as an ‘alternative’ form of finance, crowdfunding is fast-becoming mainstream and our research shows that, in the UK in 2016 alone, there were a staggering 31 campaigns that topped the £1m mark.
More importantly, equity crowdfunders are topping investor lists. Crowdfunding platforms Seedrs and Crowdcube were recently named the most active investors in the UK respectively – responsible for more transactions (21%) than any other UK investor and accounting for 86% of all crowdfunding.
In 2016, Seedrs topped 134 deals and Crowdcube funded 124 deals while other equity-based crowdfunding platforms such as Venturefounders and Syndicate Room funded rounds in excess of £1m.
At Startups Towers HQ, we have also continued our support and recognition for crowdfunded businesses. We celebrate crowdfunding success stories at the Startups Awards with the esteemed award for Crowfunded Business of the Year; past winners include LOVESPACE and Berrywhite.
Enter your start-up for Crowdfunded Business of the Year here.
While critics have argued that crowdfunding is a “bubble that could burst”, recent news highlights its potential. In November 2016, accounting software firm FreeAgent became the first equity crowdfunded company to go public, raising £10.7m in an AIM listing and achieving a market capitalisation of £34.1m. The company raised more than £1m on Seedrs in 2015.
And on Crowdcube, we’ve seen exits from three crowdfunded companies; E-Car Club, Camden Town Brewery and Wool & The Gang – early signs that crowdfunding can generate a return-on-investment.
To shine a light on the industry’s successes, we’ve compiled our annual break-down of the biggest crowdfunding rounds. Counting up from £1m to £10m, read on to find out which UK businesses drew the most in equity funding from the crowd in 2016…
Mobile-first challenger bank Monzo smashed records back in March 2016 when it raised £1m in just 96 seconds on Crowdcube ahead of its official launch. The company gave away 3.33% equity to 1,861 investors. Startups 100-featured Monzo went on to secure an additional £19.5m in a Series C in February and, in April this year, saw its banking licence restrictions lifted making it a fully authorised bank.
View the full details here.
Another app-based banking service, Revolut raked in just over £1m on Crowdcube from 433 investors in September last year, giving away 2.39% equity. Launched by ex-finance professionals in 2015, the company comes with a pre-paid debit card and allows its customers to exchange currencies and make peer-to-peer payments with a fair use policy of £200 per month in free ATM withdrawal.
Hybrid Air Vehicles: £1,223,370
This innovative aviation company smashed its £500,000 target to raise £1.2m in funding on Crowdcube this time last year, with 1,426 investors taking a 2.07 equity stake. The round followed a £2.2m raise on the platform in 2015. Hybrid Air Vehicles is the firm behind the ‘Airlander’ – a “nearly weightless” helium balloon craft that claims to be able to stay in the air “for weeks at a time” and can land and take off from ice, desert and water.
Veeqo, the platform that helps online retailers from around the world grow their businesses by selling on multiple channels, raised over £1.2m in late 2016 via Seedrs, offering up an 11.11% stake. The company claims to power more than £8m worth of sales every month, by enabling customers to manage their orders, inventory and shipping and integrating with major couriers globally.
In a significantly overfunded Crowdcube campaign, handmade biscuit start-up Biscuiteers closed a £1.25m campaign in November, giving up 19.18% equity to 743 investors. The online business used the finance to invest in marketing, manufacturing, infrastructure and international growth.
Find out more about the campaign here.
In May last year, shoe business Vivobarefoot achieved 174% of its initial target to land £1.3m in funding on Crowdcube, with 1,121 investors participating for a 8.05% share in the company. Based on “ultra-thin, puncture-resistant soles”, Vivobarefoot has sales in excess of £10m and has been profitable for the last two years.
Rentify managed to drum up over £1.3m from the crowd last April in a round on Crowdcube. The proptech start-up attracted more than 500 investors, who took a 6.46% collective share in the company. Led by senior executives from Google, Samsung and Hoopla, Rectify helps landlords market, manage and make more money from their properties.
Verto Homes: £1,389,340
Back in October, sustainable home builder Verto Homes gave up a 15.63% equity stake to 491 investors for £1.3m in funding – on Crowdcube. The company designs, builds and sells intelligent and sustainable homes that produce and store clean energy from the sun, using it to fuel heat and light.
Following its £700,000 Crowdcube raise in 2015, home energy start-up Powervault closed another £1.4m in crowdfunding on the platform last August, with 800 investors sharing 32.96% equity. The company’s domestic energy storage product reduces electricity bills and helps its customers during blackouts.
HealthUnlocked, the social network for health, raised nearly £1.5m in funding on Crowdcube last year, with 157 investors participating in the round for 9.37% equity. The company’s technology is embedded within the websites and software of 75 UK hospitals, providing peer-to-peer support and products that improve health outcomes and reduce costs.
Recycling Technologies: £1,500,000
Recycling Technologies followed up its £578,808 2015 round on SyndicateRoom with a 216% overfunded campaign on the platform last year; securing £1.5m from 135 investors. The company’s system is tackling Europe’s ineffective recycling of mixed white plastics by recycling it and turning it into a valuable hydro-carbon.
Zing Zing: £1,563,060
In May 2016, London-based Chinese takeaway service Zing Zing completed an oversubscribed £1.6m campaign on Crowdcube to fuel “aggressive expansion” across the country. Founded by Young Guns Josh Magidson and Jeremy Elster, Startups 100-featured Zing Zing is on a mission to revolutionise the UK’s £1.4bn Chinese takeaway market with a fresh, healthy take on the high-street staple.
Read more about the campaign here.
M Restaurants: £1,585,600
Last October, the award-winning M Restaurants brand closed an overfunded £1.6m campaign on Seedrs in exchange for 27% equity. Opening its first venue, M Threadneedle Street, in November 2014 and its second on Victoria Street last year, the company used the funding to invest in its latest 100 cover, riverside location – a cocktail and wine bar, and all day grill restaurant.
Peer-to-peer lender Landbay brought its total funding through Seedrs to £2.6m last year when it managed to drum up £1.6m from the crowd in its latest campaign. 407 investors participated for 8.85% equity. More than £40m has been invested through the platform since launch and the company has subsequently attracted investment from tennis star Andy Murray.
Chapel Down: £1,749,100
This Kent-based wine producer smashed its £1m target in April 2016, closing a Seedrs round with 895 shareholders taking 5.88% equity. Launched in 2001, the funding was used to build a new brewery in support of its newly launched craft beer and cider brand Curious Drinks.
West Berkshire Brewery: £1,765,482
Another independent brewery, West Berkshire Brewery completed a £1.7m funding round on Seedrs, offering up 17.59% equity. Founded in 1995, the company achieved 20% growth in the year up to November 2015 and used the finance to launch “state-of-the-art brewery” and increase sales of its premium beers.
36 investors helped this medical diagnostics devices producer raise nearly £1.8m in June 2016 on Venturefounders. Zilico’s tools aim to remove subjectivity, increase accuracy and deliver results in real time to clinical screening programmes around the world. The funding was used to drive commercial adoption of its products.
Adtech firm Scoota – formerly Rockabox – gave up 8% equity to 39 investors in October to raise £1.8m on Venturefounders, which brought its total funding through the platform to £5.5m following an earlier round in September 2015. Founded in 2008, the 40-strong London-based digital marketing platform enables advertisers to create, activate and measure their brand campaigns at scale.
In August 2016, Talmix landed £2m in equity funding through Venturefounders from 33 investors. The platform acts as an online marketplace enabling companies to access an international database of vetted consultants who they can collaborate with on projects.
GripIt Fixings: £1,995,600
Jordan Daykin, thought to be the youngest entrepreneur ever to secure investment on Dragons’ Den for GripIt Fixings, managed to raise nearly £2m last year in an over-funded Crowdcube campaign. 639 investors participated in the round for a share of 14.28% equity. Already available in 33 countries, the funding was used to fuel rapid international expansion and hiring.
Read more about the campaign here.
At a pre-money valuation of more than $65m, customer-focused banking start-up Tandem more than doubled its £1m target to rake in £2.3m from the crowd on Seedrs. The company is on a mission to redefine the bank-customer relationship, offering a full range of traditional and innovative banking features.
Innis & Gunn: £2,372,790
1,914 investors participated to help craft brewer Innis & Gunn raise £2.4m on Crowdcube back in November in exchange for 4.6% equity. Claiming to be the UK’s second largest craft brewer, the company exports to more than 25 countries around the world; where it derives 70% if its turnover.
Witt Energy: £2,386,030
With an initial crowdfunding target of just £750,000, Witt Energy closed its Crowdcube campaign at £2.4m in June last year, with 1,567 investors sharing 19.5% of the equity. The company is the developer of a scalable energy harvesting system that converts motion on land, sea and air into usable electric power.
This London-based travel money exchange platform saw tennis ace Andy Murray join nearly 3,000 other investors on Seedrs to help it raise £2.4m in exchange for a 3.98% stake. Founded in 2011 by Jared Jesner and Simon Sacerdoti, WeSwap enables consumers to swap currencies directly between each other to achieve a fairer rate.
Find out more about the campaign here.
Pocket Land Bond – £2,500,000
Pocket Land Bond, the affordable homes developer, doubled its target to close £2.5m on Crowdcube from 448 investors last year, as part of a four-year term mini-bond. Targeting London’s middle earners, the funding is helping the business to buy more land on which to build its starter homes.
In early 2016, breast cancer detection software Micrima managed to raise nearly £2.6m in investment on Venturefounders. As mammograms are not routinely used on younger women – due to harmful radiation – the firm’s solution takes advantage of proprietary imaging technology, which uses “harmless” radio waves to detect signs of breast cancer.
SyndicateRoom took to its own platform to raise £3.1m in crowdfunding in May last year, smashing its initial target of £2.3m. The company, which is a member of the London Stock Exchange – allowing users to participate in IPOs directly through its platform – used the funding to fuel its “aggressive growth strategy”.
In what was then the largest deal on the platform to date, this digital banking solution for kids closed a Crowdcube campaign at almost £4m last June. 2,372 investors backed goHenry in exchange for a share of 15.98% equity. It now has ambitions to target the 25 million children that receive pocket money across the UK and Europe.
You can find out more about the campaign here.
Two-time top 10 Startups 100 employee benefits company Perkbox became one of the latest businesses to benefit from Andy Murray’s investment streak when he joined 370 other investors in a £4.35m round on Seedrs. Perkbox, founded by Saurav Chopra and Chieu Cao, gave away 1.95% equity in its October campaign – the largest on the platform to date – as it sought to fuel its already exceptional growth.
Find out more about the round here.
In what is still thought to be the largest raise for an equity crowdfunding site, Crowdcube managed to drum up nearly £6.7m worth of investment through its own platform. 3,503 investors participated in the round for a share of 9.34% equity. The three-time Startups 100 company is now on target to reach 500,000 members by the end of 2017 and become one of the largest equity investor communities in the world.
Late last year, the craft brewery raised a staggering £10m mini-bond from a pool of 2,699 investors in the biggest equity crowdfunding round of the year. Profitable every year since 2008, BrewDog projected £70m in turnover for 2016 and went to on become the UK’s latest unicorn this April after a £100m investment pushed its valuation past £1bn.
Inspired by these success stories and want to raise crowdfunding for your start-up? Read our guides on ‘how to crowdfund’ here.
Or, if you’re a crowdfunding success story, submit your entry here for Crowdfunded Business of the Year at the Startups Awards 2017.