Why did you trust SparkUp?
I decided to launch a SparkUp campaign because I felt we shared the same goals. They were as motivated as I was in raising my funding goal. Their flexibility and speed were also strong points. Also, their offer is unique in the crowdfunding space and much better suited for a BtoB company like Talents Affinity.
What made your campaign successful?
The participation of my network greatly contributed to the success of my campaign. It is the introduction by one of my friends to his boss that was the key turning point; this contact of a contact invested 100% of the funding sought and became a true business partner.
What would you tell entrepreneurs who are hesitant about SparkUp?
An entrepreneur must be able to take smart risks and starting a SparkUp campaign is one of them. Indeed there are virtually no downsides while the upside is to finance your company and change scale. Also running a SparkUp campaign teaches you a lot about marketing and sales in the digital era. I learnt tips and tricks, which will help Talents Affinity’s sales efforts. For example, I discovered that a short but intense outbound effort yields much stronger results than lower intensity but more prolonged ones.
At what stage of your company’s development did you decide to call on fundraising?
I decided to raise funds through crowdfunding in May 2014, and I went for it in September 2014, one year after the creation of my company. I needed the funding to give a first impulse to my activity.
Why did you decide to call on crowdfunding? What were the expected advantages?
I wished to raise funds to validate the model of my company by touching the potential Talents Affinity users. I also had interest in recruiting employees for my company.
Why didn’t you contact Business Angels?
I did not wish to contact the BA since we had little chances to attract them: given they have very little interest for projects which do not have any clients yet.
How much did you raise?
I raised €42,000, or 40% more than my initial objective (€30,000)!
In addition, 2 other persons proposed for potential investment amounts for the next time.
What was the average invested ticket? Have there been large investment gaps?
The average ticket was around €1,000.
Yes, there has been important disparities since a person of my network invested €30,000, and other people invested €200.
How did you contact them?
Before starting the fundraising campaign with SparkUp, I had spoken of my funding objective directly to some people from my close network. Then with SparkUp, we set up a personalized communication for my contacts. To reach out to prospects, I used emailing tools and behavioural follow-ups.
Who did you contact?
I wanted to have a qualitative approach by selecting only 300 people to contact. I solicited professional network, personal connections and several acquaintances with whom I had already exchanged communication earlier. I mostly contacted friends and added a few people from social networks (only the ones I met).
This communication to my network enabled me to find the person who invested the whole amount of my fundraising objective. Indeed, this multi-entrepreneur, whom I didn’t know before, was introduced to me by a friend I solicited during my campaign with SparkUp. Knowing the problems of skill management in a company, he was attracted by my project.
Today, he is a proactive investor who puts his network at the disposal of Talents Affinity and takes part in the commercial development too.
What challenges did you encounter?
I did not encounter any reluctance regarding the solicited people. Most of the contacted people warmly welcomed the initiative and supported me.
However, I think that the launch of my campaign in September played against me since it is a difficult time for the households’ budget: Tax deadlines, holidays that were expensive, no bonuses, etc.
Some had committed to invest but eventually withdrew because of a lack of funds.
Have these investors brought you more than just financial support?
Some communicated my funding research: managers shared to their HR managers, bloggers spread the news, and so on.
I also received a lot of advice and experienced feedback that were very useful for my company’s development. My major investor is also very involved in Talents Affinity’s success.
By calling on my network I did not find direct customers, but I planted the seeds that will, in the future, support my commercial development. This also enabled me to relaunch a very interesting prospect for Talents Affinity: hire three commercials and a developer who will soon be joining the team!
If you had to, would you do it again?
If I had to, I would go for it sooner. I could have called on my network even before I had prospects and an advanced offer: this would have made me save some valuable time.
Would you recommend fundraising with SparkUp?
Yes, I recommend it to entrepreneurs, they should try on this kind of fundraising. This is a very sane and motivating way to get funds and have your project go forward. I was surprised by the benevolence of people, which is a very reassuring feeling for a young entrepreneur who is just starting.