This week we sat down with our partners Crowdcube and spoke to Co-Founder and CMO Luke Lang about his entrepreneurial journey, funding the wonderful at Crowdcube and what he is focusing on for 2020.
Can you tell us about your entrepreneurial journey so far and any challenges you might have faced along the way?
I’ve always worked at startup and early-stage companies. I’m drawn to the culture; the curiosity to think differently and innovate, coupled with determination and ambition. It’s that drive to make a difference, whether that’s disrupting a traditional market or standing out in a growing market, that makes this space so interesting.
Challenges always evolve over the life of a business. Sometimes people forget how hard actually starting a business is. Winning those first customers and capitalising on early success is tough for most startups. As a company matures and the team grows, maintaining its culture and values can be challenging. Spending time on this and getting it right is definitely worth the effort.
“I’ve always worked at startup and early-stage companies. I’m drawn to the culture; the curiosity to think differently and innovate, coupled with determination and ambition”
How did you first get started working in investment?
My career in investment started when Darren and I founded Crowdcube. Prior to Crowdcube, Darren and I had no experience working in financial services or the investment sector specifically. Sometimes it takes an outsider looking in to see what’s broken and how it might be fixed. We learnt fast and used our passion for helping entrepreneurs of startup and early-stage businesses to access the growth finance they needed.
“Sometimes it takes an outsider looking in to see what’s broken and how it might be fixed”
We were also determined to enable everyday people, not just the wealthy and well-connected, to back businesses that they believed in. Fostering this connection between a company and its community has proven to have a profound impact, as Monzo’s Tom Blomfield demonstrates: ‘our community is the heart and soul of everything we do, so it was a no brainer for us to underline that commitment by inviting the people who believe in our vision the most to become shareholders. They are a key part of what makes Monzo, Monzo, and Crowdcube has been integral in making that happen.”
What advice would you give to someone raising their first round of investment?
My first piece of advice would be: listen. We have a team of experts at Crowdcube with unparalleled knowledge, experience and expertise. Over the years we’ve raised more investment and funded more businesses than any other equity crowdfunding platform in the world, so we’re in the perfect position to help entrepreneurs raise their first, second, or third round of investment.
My personal passion at the moment is making sure businesses tell their story effectively. Why they started and what difference they’re going to make to the world can be a powerful way to engage people and drive investment.
“We shone a light on our female founders last year too, as it was revealed that crowdfunding is the most successful method of equity financing for female-led businesses”
What are some of the standout crowdfunding campaigns you’ve seen recently?
2019 saw some fantastic campaigns, with returning Funded Club member, Andersen EV, becoming our 1,000th raise. Freetrade’s story is one that also stands out to me. They are truly fuelled by their community, starting with an SEIS round in 2016, raising again in 2017 and 2018, following on with £5.7m in 2019.
It was a record year for £1m raises, with 40 businesses raising or rocketing past a £1m target. This, as well as shining examples from Cowboy, Curve and Freetrade, demonstrates the growing trend towards much larger raises from 2018 into 2019.
We shone a light on our female founders last year too, as it was revealed that crowdfunding is the most successful method of equity financing for female-led businesses. Read more on that, here.
“The European Commission is finalising new crowdfunding regulations, which are expected to boost the industry and make access to capital easier for businesses”
What will you be focusing on in 2020?
This year we’ll be continuing to focus on our growth in the UK, as well as our expansion overseas. In 2019 we saw 100% growth in international investment, with headline raises from wonder brands such as Cowboy and ID Finance.
The European Commission is finalising new crowdfunding regulations, which are expected to boost the industry and make access to capital easier for businesses. The regulations on equity crowdfunding are fragmented across Europe at the moment.
This is changing in the next 12 months or so as the EU seeks to harmonise regs across Europe. The regs also better reflect what we have here in the UK as well so they should help crowdfunding flourish in Europe like it has in the UK.