Apprentice finalist Nick Holzherr turns to crowdfunding

Holzherr has decided to use the crowdfunding site PeopleFund.it to raise £14,500 for Whisk, a service that brings together online recipes and online shopping. The funding will go towards creating new app to allow customers to access Whisk from as many platforms as possible.

"We had a lot of individuals from the public who really wanted to support Whisk get in touch to find out how they could help and invest in us," he says. "When we were approached to use crowdfunding as a platform we thought this would be a nice way for people who are interested in our idea to get involved and help us build our business."

Holzherr and his co-founder, Craig Edmunds, developed the idea for Whisk, which recently raised £170,000 from angel investors and venture capitalists, about two years ago and worked on it part time, but they realised the idea was very ambitious and didn't think it was the right time to launch the business. When Holzherr was offered a place on The Apprentice, they thought it was the perfect opportunity to pursue the idea further.

Holzherr says he decided to go on the show because he thought it looked like fun. "I saw it previously and thought these guys look like idiots, surely I can do better than that," he says. "I also thought quite naively that the experience of running my own business would help me do well on the show."

Although Holzherr did not win the £250,000 prize, he says he did learn much more than he expected on the programme. "I didn't think I would come out learning that much, but actually the tasks are relatively close to real business scenarios, despite what some people might think," he says. "I learned things that I knew in theory, but didn't understand in practice."

While he made it to third place on the reality show, Holzherr thinks Lord Sugar had several reasons for not investing in Whisk. "It is important to remember that it is Lord Sugar's own money. He was looking for something that was less risky and there is no denying the fact that Whisk is risky," he says. "Also, he isn't that close to the market; Lord Sugar doesn't do online grocery shopping himself, which means it isn't something he could relate to 100%."

Before going on The Apprentice, Holzherr had already launched several businesses. During his final year at Aston University in 2009 he started Co-Go Coffee to Go, an ethical coffee company that printed advertisements on the side of the cup. The following year, he began Qrky, a business that creates QR codes.

Whisk interprets recipes, creates a shopping list and then adds that list to the basket of users' online supermarket of choice. At first the site will link up with a few select supermarkets and the list of online retailers that are available to check out with will increase as the business progresses. Holzherr and his team are planning to release an invitation only version of the Whisk app in two to three weeks and then launch a public version in September.

PeopleFund.it is a crowdfunding website that allows entrepreneurs to post a project and set a fundraising goal. Investors can give to projects and in return, they receive some type of reward based on the amount they pledge, but do they do not receive equity in the business. If an idea doesn't reach its fundraising target it won't receive any money.

Whisk is offering a range of rewards in return for pledges. Those who pledge £15 will receive early adopter status, which includes a whisk badge and a thank you letter; £35, a whisk t-shirt signed by Holzherr; £40 a Whisk apron; £120 an invitation to the Whisk launch party; £250 a chance to have coffee and mentoring with Holzherr where you can show him your business plan; £450 a three course meal cooked by the entire Whisk team and for £650 Holzherr will talk at your event.

For more information on Whisk and to request your invitation, click here.

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