In honour of International Women’s Day (8 March), we sat down with one of our favourite entrepreneurs: Randa Bennett, CEO of VeeLoop (an online approval and payment service to help young people shop online). The VeeLoop team have recently successfully raised investment and we love following them as they go from strength to strength. Randa was also involved in the ‘investing in women’ workshop we hosted at The University of West London.
Can you tell us about your entrepreneurial journey so far and any challenges you may have faced along the way?
VeeLoop is a quick and easy online payment service that allows children and teenagers to shop safely and independently whilst giving parents visibility and control. We help retailers increase sales from this key market segment, whilst reducing legal risks and supporting GDPR compliance.
The idea was born when my daughter was 13 and she was constantly following me around the house with a laptop in my face asking me to pay for things. After extensive market research I found this was a problem in most households with 10-16 year olds.
I started pitching the idea of VeeLoop whilst holding a full time job, but the question was: ‘do you have prototype to show us?’, so I went on to fund building a prototype from my day job but no one was interested in a prototype and the question moved on to being: ‘have you got an MVP??’ Again, whilst in my day job, I worked evenings and weekends to build an MVP, but the question then was: ‘do you have traction?’
At that point both myself and my co-founder quit our full time jobs and focused on getting some traction and proving the system works. And only then we got investment and the real fun started. It was hard starting a business whilst in a full time job but that was the only way we could do it given both me and my co-founder have families. But it was all Worth it once we got the money and were able to built a team and move things faster, that’s when you start missing work by Sunday evening! Sad I know but its true
“Me and my co-founder quit our full time jobs and focused on getting some traction and proving the system works. And only then we got investment and the real fun started”
What do you wish you had known when you first started on your fundraising journey?
I wish I had known that the early days rejections was purely because we didn’t have traction, it wasn’t because I was a female founder, it wasn’t because the idea wasn’t great or we weren’t a good team. that was a real relief. In London investors have a pick of so many great companies, so if you put yourself in the investor shoes, would you put your money on someone who’s only got an idea? Or someone who’s built something and proved the business model?
“In London investors have a pick of so many great companies, so if you put yourself in the investor shoes, would you put your money on someone who’s only got an idea?”
How did you first get started with raising investment?
I started by attending networking events that taught us a bit about fund raising, this helped me build my confidence and start getting ourselves investment ready. However I smile when I look back and remember how naive I was, I truly thought I will be presenting in a couple of investment events, an investor will fall in love with my idea (it was just an idea at the time) and give me thousands of pounds to build my MVP. The reality was very different but it’s all part of the learning process.
“Be prepared for tens or hundreds of No’s, pick yourself up and persist until you get a yes”
What advice would you give to someone raising their first round of investment?
Be prepared for tens or hundreds of No’s, pick yourself up and persist until you get a yes. Every investor is looking for something specific that they don’t necessary articulate publicly so you’ll have to get that meeting to find out. You also need to look at fundraising as a long game, work on building long term relationships even with people who aren’t likely to invest in your right now.
What will you be focusing on in 2020?
We’ve had a great start to the year with another round of investment raised back in January, our focus is on growing our retailer base which will help us build a larger customer base.