Mike joined Crowdcube in 2013 as part of the Business Development team. Mike’s first business that funded on the platform was back in June in 2013.
A lot has changed in the world of crowdfunding and at Crowdcube since then and recently, Mike celebrated funding his 100th business at Crowdcube, Le Col, a premium cycling apparel brand, founded in 2009 by professional cyclist, Yanto Barker.
We caught up with Mike to find out how he became a crowdfunding guru within the start-up scene and what he has lined up for 2017.
What was it like to fund your first business three years ago?
It was a rollercoaster! I remember it like it was yesterday… Hop Stuff Brewery which raised £58k. In their video James (Yeomans- the founder) is brewing in his kitchen to the soundtrack of Donna Summer- Hot Stuff. Working so closely with the founders, you feel every high and every low. It definitely had its challenges as it was a new experience for both of us, but I was delighted to be able to help them get the business off the ground. They’ve been busy putting that money to good use and built a solid business with a great brand. We’ve just completed Hop Stuff Brewery’s follow up fundraise of £750k for further expansion.
How have you seen crowdfunding change over the last few years?
It’s interesting, our mission has stayed incredibly consistent since the day I joined. We have obviously grown up a lot, we are working with the most exciting, cutting edge companies in the UK, built a huge network of investors and a strong team. However, it does make me laugh looking back at the time when on every call we would have to explain the concept and answer questions like “is that legal?”
What do you look for in a business that applies to raise on Crowdcube?
There are the typical big three we look for; the idea, team and market, but I have built a bit of a reputation for finding and funding companies that are a bit different. For example, Birdsong, which has a social impact at its core or The Idler Academy, a company devoted to helping people to lead more fulfilled lives. Cleantech and social impact are sectors that I’ve been focused on. Having said that, a strong brand with a good following will always catch my eye.
You’ve come a long way since 2013, and have just helped Le Col to fund on Crowdcube, making this your 100th business to successfully raise finance – what’s your secret?
I’ve realised that there’s only so much I can do to affect the outcome of a campaign, so I try to keep an even keel and stay positive, I try to get to know the people behind the business and do what I can to help them succeed. It’s one of the most important decisions a company can make, so they put a lot of hope and trust in us. There were stages of the Le Col fundraise that were very difficult. The campaign had a very good start, but then the progress bar started to slow down and Yanto’s wife was about to go into labour. Yanto, Dan and I spoke almost every day about what more we could do to help it hit the target and eventually they made it through and ultimately it’s been a big success. They close in a few days time, so have a look before it comes off the site!
Are there any common traits among the businesses or entrepreneurs that have successfully funded on Crowdcube?
Having the commitment to quit their day job and start to grow a business in the first place is what I most admire. I talk to a lot of people with great ideas, but most of them never get started. I have a lot of respect for the founders I work with but what stands out the most is when someone is really passionate about what they do, this tends to be infectious and they start to get people around them believing that anything is possible.
What has been your favourite business on Crowdcube?
That’s such a hard one! Like choosing between your children. ISO Spaces hold a special place, they design and manufacture recycled shipping containers to create bespoke pop-up’s, but my favourite has to be Guardian Maritime who help ship owners protect their crews and ships from modern pirates.