What made your campaign a success?
I think that the quality of our business plan and our company were the main reasons investors were convinced by our campaign. We had a solid foundation thanks to our previous years’ experience and had shown that we were profitable. Furthermore, the sector is expanding and our potential investors easily understood our issues. Of course, the quality of the campaign led by SparkUp and the list of potential investors they targeted were essential for the success of our crowdfunding attempt as this is how we met all our investors.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who wish to launch their business with SparkUp?
I would say be ready to collect more than you expect, as if this happens, you have to be able to show a more ambitious project. Our project with more capital wasn’t ready and we weren’t ready to be bought out either. Nevertheless, we had offers that exceeded our objective and two large laboratories offered to buy us out. SparkUp deals with supply and demand and allows new opportunities to emerge very quickly. However, I do advise you to begin your campaign with an objective that is not too ambitious and to allow for an extension to your project if you find more financing, as you can easily close your appeal and adapt your project if you identify more capital than you initially planned for.
Why did you decide to try crowdfunding?
For us, crowdfunding was a fast way to find investors. SparkUp suggested a very fast launch and publicized a campaign in just a few hours/days, and found a maximum of potential investors that we would have never found on our own in just a few weeks.
At what stage of your company’s development did you decide to try crowdfunding?
We had existed for 9 years and had started the business with our own money. We couldn’t develop because we lacked funds and were poorly indexed by search engines. The objective of the crowdfunding was to re-launch our activity on the internet and recruit necessary employees.
How much did you raise with this method? What were the conditions?
We raised nearly €320k according to our own conditions. We had a choice of investors and could, therefore, prefer those who were able to release capital and who agreed with the values of our business and the conditions to enter into our capital. We are sure that we could have raised more if we hadn’t experienced some delays. We should have finished our crowdfunding at the end of July/ beginning of August, but the summer period wasn’t ideal for making quick decisions or for getting official documents signed, as some potential investors were on holiday.
What amounts were invested and who are your investors?
6 investors took part in the capital increase. I didn’t know any of them before they were contacted through the campaign. They invested between €10k and €160k. Our biggest investor is himself a business owner in the food sector. Our other investors included a person who works in financial management, a clinic director, a chemist, a financial controller and a naturopath.
Who did you contact?
We studied several contact lists identified and provided by SparkUp: the potential investors who we targeted were chemists in France and contacts who have a link with the healthcare sector.
Did your investors provide more than financial support?
Yes, my investors enabled me to develop my client portfolio, to find a new supplier of raw materials and to obtain advice from different professionals and entrepreneurs. For example, my investor who is a financial controller is very involved and gives me advice in management and finance. Some of my investors and people who I had contact with had already started their own businesses, others gave advice, encouragements and relevant warnings.
Would you recommend crowdfunding?
Yes, I would because it works for companies who have a track record and/ or who can provide sufficient information to reassure potential investors. What I really liked about the crowdfunding was the human aspect. We met and talked with so many people who are in entrepreneurship and know the restrictions. As an entrepreneur, you can often be alone and it’s very encouraging to talk to people who have been in the same situation and who have managed to develop their business. It’s also very gratifying and reassuring to see that these people believe in you and your project. Another advantage is also to be able to choose the people you want to welcome into the capital as it’s all about relationships.