Why did you decide to try fundraising with SparkUp?
Honestly we needed cash, we had no choice but to raise funds! But why SparkUp? Simply because I know the sales teams well from Finsquare, a company who work in the same building as SparkUp. They put us in touch which confirmed my choice to work with them. SparkUp was the easiest and quickest way to find the funds we needed.
At what stage of your company’s development did you decide to try crowdfunding?
I founded the company 12 years ago with my own funds, and today, I still own the 4 stores in Paris. Owning 90% of the capital made it easier to start a fundraising campaign. The aim was to develop and grow the company. Initially I wanted to develop a digital strategy and then create a new website in order to be more visible on social media and acquire new clients. We then wanted to diversify and improve the range of services we offer to our clients, with the creation of new tasting sessions and the launch of private fine dining for wine connoisseurs. Finally, we wanted to extend our range of products to complete our offer. In order to successfully execute the plans, I also needed to hire new staffs.
How much did you raise with this method? What were the conditions?
Currently, I have managed to secure €100k in line with my investment conditions (the creation of a shareholders’ agreement and investment agreement). But the objective was to go slightly further and raise €150k.
What amounts were invested and who are your investors?
The majority of people who invested were mainly clients. Till date 5 people have invested in a product they know has great quality and ever increasing production. Amongst the clients, two were solid investors and invested €60k, the other three invested a little more than €10k each.
Who did you contact?
I contacted just over 2500 people from my network. They included clients, suppliers and partners of the company. In the end only clients entered into the capital and then shared their contacts with me.
Did your investors provide more than financial support?
Yes, and also in my shareholders’ agreement a clause was created referring to the obligation of the shareholders to make suggestions to improve the day to day management of the company. In addition, among the 5 new shareholders, there are 2 who really want to get involved every day, by helping me define the strategy for my company. The others prefer to take a backseat which is fine with me.
What difficulties did you face?
As this was my first fundraising attempt, I didn’t really know the procedure to follow which held me up. Indeed, before the fundraising attempt I didn’t have a shareholders’ agreement so I had to seek the advice of a lawyer about all the legal obligations (statutes, shareholders agreement, investment convention and entry tickets). In addition, I didn’t realise that once the funds have been received that they would be blocked for a certain length of time. So I spent hours with the bank too.
What made your campaign successful?
I would say that my network made my campaign successful, but in particular, the people who already heard and knew about my project. The other investors followed and trusted me because they know that my company has been doing well for the last 12 years.
What would you say to entrepreneurs who hesitate to call on SparkUp?
I would say that without them I probably wouldn’t have raised the funds. I successfully raised nearly 100k € with their help. SparkUp made my life easy, helping me to manage my campaign which saved me time and allowed me to move forward in other areas. However, I would warn entrepreneurs to not underestimate the time it can take to release the funds.