The successful creation of CrowdReach, a new crowd-funding agency that helps entrepreneurs to plan, create, market and manage their crowd-funding campaigns, is pretty impressive. It’s even more impressive if you launch this business while still in university!
Since they started a year ago, the team of undergraduates on UWE Bristol’s Team Entrepreneurship degree programme, Rob Wilson, Bradley Green and Will Dooley, have attracted more than £85,000 in donations, and have already helped two tech startups in Bristol to boost their funding. You may have already heard of one company that CrowdReach has aided: VRGO, makers of a virtual reality chair, as we covered news of it here on TechSPARK a few months ago:
TechSPARK: How did you come up with the idea for CrowdReach?
Rob Wilson: The idea for CrowdReach came about after we were involved in successfully launching a Kickstarter campaign for a local tech startup. With our help they were able to reach their target of £20,000 in the first 11 hours and go on to raise over £64,000.
After concluding our work, we toyed with the idea of helping other startups and spent the next few months learning all we could about crowd funding. Shockingly, we discovered that at the time between 60-70% of all campaigns were failing to reach their targets. Most reward-based platforms apply a fixed funding model, meaning that if the creators does not hit their target they do not receive any of the funds they have raised. Identifying the growth of reward-based crowd-funding in the UK and spotting a gap in the market, we decided to set up the first crowd-funding agency of its kind in the UK.
“When it comes to reward-based crowd funding, the motto, ‘Build it and they will come’, is simply not true!”
TS: What makes CrowdReach different from other crowd-funding sites?
RW: In short, we’re not a crowd-funding platform… There are a number of different crowd-funding platforms out there across all forms of crowd-funding (donation, reward, equity, debt), however, in most cases, the purpose of these sites is simply to provide a secure platform for the campaign to be hosted. Ultimately, the success comes down to your ability to drive traffic to the campaign and convert viewers into backers. When it comes to reward-based crowd funding, the motto, ‘Build it and they will come’, is simply not true!
“So far we have collectively raised over £85,000 for our clients and through the support and mentoring over the next 12 months we aim to successfully launch many more campaigns”
CrowdReach is one of the only crowd-funding agencies in the UK. We specialise in launching products through reward-based crowd-funding platforms; offering a fully managed campaign service. Working closely with our clients, we are able to plan, create, market and manage their crowd-funding campaigns.
Tech helpers: CrowdReach helped earn £22,000 for VRGO – a virtual reality experience, demonstrated here by a willing member of the TechSPARK team
TS: What successes has CrowdReach had so far?
RW: The biggest success we’ve had to date, has been getting through to the next round of Bristol’s startup accelerator Entrepreneurial Spark.
- You may like: Entrepreneurial Spark, the world’s largest free business accelerator, opens in Bristol in August
Having started out six months ago with 80 other startups, we are now one of just 19 who were selected to go through to the next round. So far we have collectively raised over £85,000 for our clients and through the support and mentoring over the next 12 months we aim to successfully launch many more campaigns.
“I’d recommend anyone who is starting their own business to actively seek guidance from those who have have gone through the process. Having someone external to the business that you can meet with regularly is a real game changer”
TS: What lessons have you learned?
RW: The value of a mentor! In the early days of setting up, we had little guidance and no one to hold us accountable, as a result things took a lot longer than expected. Through Entrepreneurial Spark we were introduced to our current mentor who has helped us massively over the last four months.
I would recommend anyone who is starting their own business to actively seek guidance from those who have have gone through the process. Having someone external to the business that you can meet with regularly is a real game changer.
TS: How has Entrepreneurial Spark helped you with CrowdReach?
RW: Entrepreneurial Spark has played a huge part in the growth of the business and helped us to plan for the future. It’s easy to get caught in the moment of setting up a business and it can be difficult to decide what to prioritise. In our case, planning for the future was not up there! Entrepreneurial Spark has pushed us to think big and ensure we have clear, 12 month plans for every aspect of the business. Not only are we supported by mentors, but also have a amazing community of startups that we have learnt a great deal from.
TS: Which tech companies in the region are you impressed with?
RW: With the high-calibre of tech companies in the region, this is not the easiest question to answer! If I had to choose one, I would say Wriggle. I’ve been a fan of their app since they launched and it’s great to see their growth over the last couple of years, including their most recent Seedrs round.
Many thanks to Rob Wilson for taking time out to give us this interview. If you would like to find out more about the UK’s first crowd-funding agency, please visit the CrowdReach website or follow them on Twitter here: @crowdreach