Bubble & Balm becomes first UK business to raise finance on Crowdcube

Some 82 investors each contributed between £10 and £7,500 over a four-month period to meet the funding target.  The Warwickshire-based firm needed the cash to expand its award-winning product range, increase marketing activity and to meet increasing demand from retailers such as Waitrose, Oxfam, Planet Organic and a growing number of independent stores.

Crowdcube is the first crowd-funding platform in the world to offer investors equity in small businesses. You can read our interview with Crowdcube co-founder Luke Lang here.  Instead of competing for limited business angel or venture capital funding, businesses can use Crowdcube as a platform to connect with a nation of small investors - 'armchair dragons' -instead of one or two high net worth individuals to find investment.

Former city banker, Sue Acton, founder of Bubble & Balm (and winner of our Brother Business Ambitions competition earlier this year), says: "I am absolutely delighted we have achieved our target. Raising finance is incredibly tough for any small business - Bubble & Balm included - and I was really excited when I first heard about Crowdcube.

"I'm very much looking forward to working with all our investors as we take Bubble & Balm to the next level," she continues. "Some of our new shareholders have already offered their skills as well as their cash to support our growth, and this is another huge benefit of crowd-funding - not only do we now have the investment we need to deliver against our plans, we also have a diverse team of supporters (and customers!) too."

Was Acton worried about being a pioneer on Crowdcube? Not a bit. "Reservations - no - I was really excited about the potential from the start. However, equity based crowd-funding is very new - Crowdcube are the first to offer this model - so I wasn't sure exactly what to expect once the pitch went live. We didn't know, for example, whether we would attract a huge amount of small investments or a couple of larger ones, or whether higher value investors would be comfortable with a largely online communication channel. In reality it's been fantastic."

Darren Westlake, co-founder and MD of Crowdcube says: "This is a significant moment in the history of small business finance in Britain. In the current climate with banks being risk averse, we are thrilled that Bubble & Balm has succeeded in getting vital growth investment. This is just the start. Many entrepreneurs on Crowdcube are on the verge of achieving their funding targets using our crowd-funding model. I firmly believe that Crowdcube is the future of business finance in Britain."

Here are Sue Acton's five top five tips for entrepreneurs looking to raise funds on Crowdcube:

  • Spend some time getting the business plan right. Remember it will be 'on display' and therefore potentially viewable by your competitors too. It also needs to be accessible to armchair dragons whilst at the same time containing enough 'meat' to catch the attention of higher value investors (including EIS eligibility if possible).
  • Ensure you have your 'back pocket' information in place - investors ask lots of questions, many of them in the public forums on Crowdcube, and you'll need to provide answers quickly.
  • Actively promote your pitch and be prepared for the long haul, it's likely to take several months of continued effort to reach target.
  • Be ready for frustrations and unexpected boosts! I spent hours talking to potential investors who then 'disappeared' or put in far less than originally discussed, equally another investor put in £5,000 purely on the strength of the online pitch - we've never spoken - the cash simply arrived one Sunday.
  • Enjoy it! Knowing that people believe in you and your business enough to part with their cash is a truly fantastic experience.

For those wondering how the Crowdcube model works, here are the details: There is no cost for entrepreneurs to sign up to Crowdcube. Crowdcube receives a 5% success fee once the target is reached. If the target funds are not met, investors get their money back and no success fee is charged to the entrepreneur. Start-up ventures can register their business idea or company at www.crowdcube.com.

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