Entrepreneur Profile: Luke Lang, Co-founder of Crowdcube
In the past few years crowdfunding has risen to prominence as an alternative financing vehicle. It has given thousands of entrepreneurs the chance to raise the funds that they desperately need in order to establish their businesses. There are hundreds of crowdfunding platforms across the globe but Crowdcube stands out from the rest. It is different to platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, offering equity rather than perks, enabling both the investors and the entrepreneurs. I spoke to co-founder Luke Lang about the rise of Crowdcube and what's next for crowdfunding.
Can you tell me a little bit about your background?
I began my career in marketing for a big corporate. I met my co-founder Darren about 6 years ago when we were working at a telecommunications company. That's when we started to hatch our plan to escape corporate life and start our own business. Darren has an entrepreneurial background and he came up with this bright idea to allow people to invest in great British businesses. That's how Crowdcube was born. That was always our vision – to help entrepreneurs. Accessing finance is always one of the most difficult aspects of starting a business, but equally, we wanted to give ordinary people the chance to invest - making it a lot more accessible to the public.
Describe Crowdcube in three words
Innovative, personable, disruptive
What has been Crowdcube's biggest challenge?
Well, we were the first equity crowdfunding platform so we were really starting from scratch; that was a huge task. We were challenging the status quo - really disrupting what was happening. I don't think if we had been institutionalized by 20 years in corporate finance we would have been able to make the changes that we made. Starting from scratch means you have to create awareness and educate people. We didn't have access to any accelerators or incubators, we had to go out and network and connect with these people. We fought for every deal listed in the early days. Everything about Crowdcube was brand new. When you're out there and disrupting such an old prolific market there are a lot of naysayers, so it takes resilience and tenacity to keep going. It took five months to fund our first business, so we had to be very resolute. But you learn a lot about yourself during those harder times and you get even more a determined to prove people wrong.
What has been Crowdcube's biggest achievement?
Every business that gets funded is a fantastic achievement. Every company that we help is another milestone on our journey. It can be daunting to begin with, but the thrill when it gets going is very exciting. We've come a really long way - there's now 25 people working here. Having such an enthusiastic team is great.
Where do you see Crowdcube in five years?
I think Crowdcube is going to go from strength to strength. We've funded more this year than our competitor has done in the past two years. We've also launched our mini bond product which is allowing us to help more established brands raise larger sums of money. I think that's a really important step forward for us and we've managed to attract some really well known brands to the site already. In the last twelve months we've seen a real evolution and we are attracting serial entrepreneurs. It's a glimpse in to the future, I think its going to grow massively - this is still such an young industry. We are also expanding internationally as well. When you start to have an international network of investors, that's when it gets really exciting.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who are looking to raise money via crowdfunding?
My advice would be prepare well. It's not a free lunch. You have to do it in a professional, well-executed manner. Fundraising starts way before the pitch goes live -you have to network and meet people and warm them up to the idea. You should spend time crafting your pitch and really take time thinking about what investors are looking for. Is it a killer idea that's going to grab attention? Or is it the compelling market opportunity? Or the strength of the team? You really need to tell it in a captivating way. A great narrative will really draw people in. You need more than just a good idea - you need to show your determination. That's what we look for at Crowdcube – that entrepreneurial spirit.