Finding investment for your startup is, well, perhaps the most difficult part of the whole startup process. Equally, finding startups to invest in (for all you minted folks) can also be a difficult endeavor. Enter Seedrs – the online platform that makes investing in startups simple and rewarding.
We caught up with Seedrs co-founder and COO, Carlos Silva, to talk startup inspiration, lunching with da Vinci and why the tech scene in the UK is so brilliant.
Tell us a little more about what inspired Seedrs.
It started with a real need: how to raise funding for an idea stage startup that needs less than £100,000 of investment? When thinking about this issue I was inspired by what peer-to-peer lenders, like Kiva and Zopa where accomplishing and saw no reason why a similar logic couldn’t be applied to startups. However both my co-founder, Jeff Lynn and I, quickly recognized that financing startups has to be about equity rather than debt, so our challenge was to find a way to do “peer-to-peer equity.” The business evolved out of that challenge.
What has been your most successful startup invested in on Seedrs to date?
That’s difficult – we’re young, but our startups are even younger in their development. One of our obvious successes is Swogo. They were able to quickly raise the minimum amount they needed (£17,500) to build their beta version then launch in the UK, within just a few months, and they’re already looking to expand into the US. And, they won a UK-based young entrepreneur pitching competition recently. This team is agile, eager and their recent traction indicates they’ll be really successful.
How do you find the tech scene in the UK?
The UK tech scene at the moment is simply brilliant. The UK ticks all the boxes and then some when it comes to being a great place to start a new, high-growth tech business. It has top notch universities, is a world leader in a number of creative industries, access to venture capital finance, very good connections with Europe and the rest of the world and a very diverse culture. Particularly in East London, the tech scene has organically grown into a really rich, thriving eco-system of brilliant entrepreneurs, developers, designers, mentors and investors.
And, it’s spreading. Fast. The government is supporting broadband infrastructure enhancements, providing tax incentives to everyone who invests in early-stage companies and supporting young people interested in starting up their own company.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Bootstrapping is great – all startups do so initially – but the downside is that it can slow you down due to lack of resources. Think about creating a startup as climbing a stair. Bootstrapping is the first step but once you get to that milestone raise the money you need to get to the next step, and so on.
If you could have lunch with one person, who would it be, what would you eat, and what would you talk about?
I would love to have lunch with Leonardo da Vinci. I would probably eat a really nice and simple Portuguese grilled fish, and since Leonardo is undoubtedly a true Renaissance man, I’m sure he would be up to talking about any and all topics.
Biggest startup challenge?
Reaching out to potential investors to educate and excite them about startups as an asset class has been our biggest challenge. Investing in startups is a high-risk proposition – but with that, comes high-potential reward. So, getting the word out about startups, investing in portfolios and being a part of exciting new businesses is the challenging (and fun) bit.
Web App or site you couldn’t live without and why.
There are a number of sites that I would find extremely difficult to get by without, but the one I would find the most difficult to replace is probably LinkedIn.
What’s your music-streaming site of choice, and what’s currently playing?
It’s Spotify. At the moment I’m listening to Pride and Joy by the late Stevie Ray Vaughan.
What’s the greatest thing about Seedrs?
Our mission. We democratize investing in startups. Traditionally, you’d have to invest a lot of money and time to invest in a portfolio of startups – which meant that it was only open to the very wealthy. But, unlike other platforms, we make it possible (and simple) for the mass affluent to invest smaller amounts (from £10, upwards) of capital, more efficiently, into exciting new businesses. And in the process we are doing something I personally am very passionate about – helping great entrepreneurs make their ideas real.
Where can our readers reach out to you?
You can get in touch with me through our website at seedrs.com, through our Twitter account @seedrs, or directly by e-mailing me at carlos [dot] silva [at] seedrs [dot] com.
Thanks Carlos! If you’re keen on finding brilliant startups to invest seed capital in, definitely check out Seedrs and become part of the wonderful and exciting startup world. Seriously, it’s much more fun than investing in bonds. I promise.