Julia Elliott-Brown, CEO and co-founder of UK brand Upper Street, recently shared how crowdfunding is perfect for female entrepreneurs.
This past spring, Upper Street launched an equity crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs and raised a total of £229,626. The London-based shoe label founded five years ago by Elliott Brown and Katy Chandler, aims to revolutionize the way women shop for shoes by allowing them to design their perfect pair online. Upper Street today offers over 5 million shoe design possibilities, giving customers a shoe shopping experience that they are bound to love.
In an article published by the Telegraph, Elliott-Brown penned:
“Speaking as a female entrepreneur who’s been through the more traditional routes of raising finance, as well as a recent crowdfunding round, it certainly feels significantly less intimidating to create and run your pitch online than having to present at a testosterone fueled pitching event, or walk into the fancy offices of a venture capital firm for an in-person grilling from the guys in suits. It could just the thing that democratizes investment for – and by – women.
“And for the uninitiated female investor, it’s a lot easier to browse company prospectuses and watch video pitches online from the comfort of your sofa, dipping a toe into the water with a small investment or two, as opposed to putting chunky amounts of money into businesses via syndicates. Crowdfunding opens the door for female investors in the same way that online gambling opened up betting for those women to nervous to go into the traditional high street bookie.”
Revealing more details about UK’s equity crowdfunding scene, Julia shared:
“Darren Westlake, co-founder and CEO of Crowdcube, tells me that since launching in 2011, 14 per cent of the 262 businesses to fund on his platform were founded by female entrepreneurs; with the number rising to 21 per cent this year so far, demonstrating a real growth in the trend.
And those businesses are more likely to have a successful crowdfunding raise when compared to their male counterparts. There’s also a rapid rise of female investors drawn to crowd-funding with 24 per cent of Crowdcube’s 185,000-strong investor community being female.”
Also discussing her company’s experience with crowdfunding, Elliott-Brown explained:
“My business, Upper Street, allows women to design their own shoes online. We crowdfunded a small investment round earlier this year on Seedrs, closing £230k from 170 new investors. I was encouraged to see that 36 per cent of our new investors were women, who incredibly put in on average almost four-times as much money as the men.
“Women get what we do, and they’re comfortable backing us. I believe that the more exciting female-focused businesses there are on crowdfunding platforms, the more female investors will be attracted, and the cycle will continue.”
Julia also noted:
“I wish I’d seen more female businesses featured on the recent Crowdcube underground advertising campaign in London – all the posters promoting beer companies appealed to… you guessed it, the guys.
“Seedrs’ recent announcement of their strategic partnership with Andy Murray will do great things to raise their profile. But wouldn’t it be fantastic to see a female sporting heroine like Jessica Ennis-Hill investing her well earned millions in fledgling British businesses, and her profile being employed to promote crowdfunding to women?
“We owe it to the economy to do as much as we can to help female-led companies scale to generate growth and employment. I strongly encourage all women looking to take their business to the next level to consider crowdfunding. And if have a little money to invest? Then check out all the great female-led businesses who are crowdfunding right now – they need your support.”
Elliott-Brown also shared her “top five tips for crowdfunding success:
- Make an emotionally engaging video – you have just a few minutes to get your audience to connect with your story and vision, so make it count; it will make or break whether they decide to view the rest of your pitch.
- Set your target to ‘just enough’ – if you don’t hit your funding objective, you get none of the money; better to set the target a little lower, and over-fund.
- Run your campaign like a military operation – build a strong communication plan for all key stakeholders; your customers and business contacts could be your richest source of investment.
- Get early support – secure early commitment from existing investors, and trusted contacts before you make your campaign live; seeing that others have already backed you gives the ‘crowd’ greater confidence.
- Keep the faith – when it feels like your campaign is losing momentum, keep on asking people for commitment; it’s often only in the last few weeks that campaigns gain velocity and hit target.
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