How we raised £540k on CrowdCube to develop a new technology

How we raised £500k through crowdfunding to develop a new technology

As part of the team at Lasso (previously ReCircle) I helped raise £548,000 in an equity crowdfunding round on CrowdCube. We raised the funds to develop the prototype for a new circular recycling technology.

Mark Russell from Social Media Meetup got in touch with me through Pair Up and asked if we could have a chat about the campaign approach and what was involved. The video recording of our discussion is below and you can read Mark’s summary of the conversation.

In this blog post I’ll share some of my learnings and tips to prepare for a campaign:

  1. Start building your friend list now
  2. Anticipate the questions your audience will have
  3. Set clear objectives and design your campaign around them
  4. Find out what your audience is about
  5. Look at what content works
  6. Prioritise your key messages

When preparing for our crowdfunding round we worked with a specialist agency, TribeFirst, who I would recommend to anyone who is running a campaign. They helped us prepare for the wild crowdfunding ride.

1. Start building your friend list now

If you’ve been building your email and social media network for a number of years, you’ll be in a far better position to secure a successful crowdfunding round than if you only start building your network a few weeks before the campaign.

Even if they only throw in £10 each, having a network of close friends and supportive contacts who will back your project could make all the difference to your campaign. They will help you build and maintain momentum throughout your crowdfunding raise.

2. Anticipate the questions your audience will have

Throughout the campaign investors will ask you curly questions to stress test your idea and to make sure the investment opportunity satisfies their conditions. You might only get asked a few questions during the raise, but your answers to these questions are critical because lots of other investors will be looking to see that you’re responsive and convincing.

During your crowdfunding round you will be running around like mad trying to do all sorts of other things, so it’s a good idea to have your answers to these questions already prepared before the round begins.

List out all the questions you think a sensible person might have about your product or service and get to work on writing your answers. You could publish this content on your website and use it as social media content too.

If you’re having trouble figuring out what questions investors might have, check out some of the campaigns on CrowdCube to see what typically gets asked. You could also think about talking to some people in the street about your idea to see what questions they have.

3. Set clear objectives and design your campaign around them

Before developing any creative or social media content you need to have a clear idea of what success looks like for your campaign, and how your marketing activities will ladder up to achieve those goals. Your objectives could be number of sales, number of sign-ups, number of website visitors, etc.

Good campaign strategy is as much about what you do as it is about what you don’t do. Just because Elon Musk posts five times a day on Twitter doesn’t mean doing the same thing is going to help you achieve your aims. When planning, implementing and measuring your campaign activities, a good question to ask of yourself and your teammates is “How will this help us to meet our objectives?” This will focus your efforts and align the team’s momentum toward the key outcomes you need.

In order to define your objectives and determine an appropriate course for a campaign, the sorts of questions you will want to ask yourself are: Who needs to see your content? How many people need to see it? What do people currently think? What do we want them to think? What specific actions do we want people to take? Why would they take those actions?

Once you have a good understanding (both qualitatively and quantitatively) of the job to be done you can then go about designing an effective campaign, avoiding a wild social media goose chase posting aimlessly into the virtual abyss. If you’re a start-up or small business this is particularly important because there’s no time or money to waste. Your team has only so many hours in a week and if you spend them retweeting Justin Bieber you’ll run out of time to get the real work done.

4. Find out what your audience is about

If you have an informed understanding of your audience’s interests, values and preferences you will be well placed to create campaign content that inspires people and motivates them to take action. A couple of helpful tools to help you build a picture of your audience are:

  • Facebook Audience Insights: Find out the top interests of Facebook users according to demographic attributes including age, sex and location.
  • Facebook Hot Topics: See what topics have been popular according to people’s age, sex and location.

5. Look at what content works

If you know what sort of content resonates with your audience you can borrow from those ideas for your campaign. A few ways to build up this understanding and find out what your audience responds to are:

  • Reddit: Look at relevant communities (subreddits) to see what sort of content has cut through organically.
  • BuzzSumo Trends: BuzzSumo’s trends tool lets you see what content is trending globally according to different topics such as politics, fitness, travel and beauty. 
  • BuzzSumo Facebook Analyser: BuzzSumo’s Facebook tool lets you look at other Facebook pages to see what content has been most popular.

It can be helpful to look at your competitors’ pages to see what’s working for them. This will also help you to think about ways to differentiate yourself against them.

Looking outside your category for inspiration is a good idea too. If certain content works for a particular audience (say, fashion) there’s a good chance you can take learnings and apply them to your campaign.

6. Prioritise your key messages

Write out all of the reasons you can think of why people might invest in your campaign. Once you’ve done that, pick out the top 3 or 4 crucial things you need people to know and that are most compelling and persuasive. 

These 3 or 4 key messages need to be sown into your campaign materials (website, videos, crowdfunding page, social media content, etc.) in creative and inspiring ways so that busy people can take a quick look and identify those messages seamlessly.

If you’re having trouble deciding what messaging you should lead with, take a look at some of the other successful campaigns on CrowdCube (especially if their project is somewhat similar to yours) to see what the key messages were for them.

That’s all for now. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter and / or Instagram if you have any questions or if you’d just like to be pals. I’m also planning to kick off a newsletter about these sorts of topics, so sign-up if you’d like to hear more.