It was December 2020 and we’d just put together the 12 month strategy for the year ahead, we’d lined up meetings with agencies and suppliers, we were excitedly ready to spend our funding round that was as far as we knew all signed off and ready to go.
But, before we could raise a Nanny State to the new year ahead, we found ourselves hurtling head first into the black hole of a funding round falling through, we just couldn’t see it yet. As many Founders will empathise, these moments are truly make or break for your business, they’re incredibly stressful and cause you to question every decision you’ve ever made. For us, this state lasted for six long months.
SIX, LONG, MONTHS.
We spent twenty-six weeks operating on an absolute shoestring budget, moving week to week in limbo, only to realise with about 3-4 weeks to go that crowdfunding was our safest option.
And cutting our losses to make that call was the best decision we could have made in 2020.
Dr. Will’s have now successfully raised £1.1 million, that’s 275% overfunded on our original target, this still feels unbelievable to say, but with success comes an opportunity to learn, so buckle in for some real transparency, the nitty gritty of how we made this happen.
As a caveat to this seemingly ‘overnight’ success story, there have been four years of grafting, of cultivating a community and building the best possible product that all came before we launched on Seedrs. An incredibly concerted effort was put in place to line up everything to make this last minute decision as successful as humanly possible.
So let’s get to it.
STEP ONE: Nail your marketing assets
Simple and you know how to do it already, but be true to your brand, be distinctive in your approach and make the most of what you have. For us, that’s a super charismatic Founder with two very cute kids, a handful of very horrifying sugar stats and some seriously impressive growth metrics. These pillars are the cornerstone of our marketing strategy, so it was only natural they’d form the centre of our narrative too.
Be prepared to prove every word of this. Your investment platform will need proof and while that may leave you frantically downloading invoices and reports from your 2018 accounting system, it helps people invest with confidence and that really is worth the effort.
STEP TWO: Sweat your pre Reg list
Think of everyone you’ve ever known and their ten closest friends, you want their names on this list. These are the people who are pre-commit their interest to your campaign, they are your early adopters who if you can lock in will build your initial campaign momentum. With an expected 15% conversion rate on this list, we made it our one job to put this sign up link absolutely everywhere. From our newsletter mailing list to Lottie’s Mum’s yoga WhatsApp group, no stone was left unturned, no opportunity was underestimated.
STEP THREE: Create your narrative aka the comic relief effect
Half the reason why we crowdfund is because it’s a very powerful marketing tool. So what story do you want to tell? We knew our product and proposition was strong, the valuation was fair so all the pieces were in place for this to be a success and when it was gaining traction, it was up to us to shout it from the rooftops. Resident hustler Josh led the charge and we shared this screenshot every day, updating the community on our progress. We created what Mark from Smurfit Kappa coined as the comic relief effect and while it’s simple, my God, it works. With the power of momentum and the force of the crowd behind you, people don’t want to miss out.
17 days later, we had raised £1.1m – 275% of our original target.
STEP FOUR: Make time for the investor conversations
Crowdfunding is tiring with a capital T. But, it’s work that can’t be put on the back burner. Potential investors need your time, whether that’s in real life, over email or 8 minute voice note (yes this did happen), they need information, they have specific questions and want to hear your voice/see your face to feel reassured their hard earned cash is going on the right investment. Make the time to show them it is and respond promptly to keep the momentum going.
STEP FIVE: Don’t count your chickens
The two week closing period is real. You might lose some big hitters, financial situations change plus there’s the documents and fees to pay. The money won’t hit your bank for about 4 weeks after so just be prepared for that.
STEP SIX: Make time for your priorities
Despite answering investor questions all day and running the business at night, Liam still made it to his spin class, Lottie for her reservoir dip and Will to bedtime duty. Having time for these moments, being able to dictate your own schedule is half the reason why we work in lifestyle-focused businesses, so don’t abandon your reasons when it matters the most. It’s no coincidence that literally every member of the extended team invested in Dr. Will’s, because day in, day out, we work in an environment that values us as whole people and above all else, we believe in that as a viable business model.