Hubbub’s mission to raise £250,000 on Crowdcube claims this week’s honours. Jonathan May, CEO and Founder of Hubbub has provided AltFi News with a detailed insight into the platform, as well as sharing his thoughts on why Crowdcube has become the go-to platform for fellow platforms looking to equity crowdfund for their own purposes.
Hubbub builds fundraising communities. They have designed a crowdfunding platform that can be branded and operated by schools, colleges, universities and non-profits - bringing the engagement and interactivity of Kickstarter or IndieGoGo to sectors where fundraising and communities really matter.
Hubbub connects projects to people - it empowers organisations to develop and strengthen the relationships they have within their communities and supporters.
Can you give us a brief introduction to the hubbub platform?
We've been running 3 years, built a great product and an even better team, and we are now looking to expand. We've explored a variety of ways to raise investment, and crowdfunding using equity is a great fit. After all, what could be more perfect than a crowdfunding platform crowdfunding itself so it can provide more crowdfunding platforms.
Is there a big opportunity for crowdfunding in education?
There's a huge opportunity in the UK higher education fundraising space alone. Just 1 in 50 UK alumni (former university students) give back to their universities in any given year, but between them they give over £750 million.
We believe that by leveraging the power of crowdfunding as a means to sourcing inspirational campaigns and providing the key reasons to give, we can increase this participation rate, as well as lower the fundraising costs for the existing market. And to date, we've been proving this the case - statistics from the University of York already show a substantial increase in donor numbers and the vast majority of donors being first-timers.
Globally, the market is staggeringly large - over $8 billion is given to US universities by their alumni every year. Whilst engagement rates are higher - around 11.4% - online fundraising is still represents less than 10% of total giving.
Crowdcube seems to be the go-to for other platforms looking to raise equity finance - why do you think that is?
Equity crowdfunding is like any other "angel" round, except the fundraising is open to the public, and anyone can put in as little as £10 and as much as tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds. It seems the "obvious" way to fundraise for Hubbub. We are intending to raise £250,000. This might go up, depending on the interest and support from our existing investors. This cash gets us well past break-even, as well as establishing beach-head entry points into the non-profit and US markets.
The reasons are pretty simple. We want to raise money in a positive, open, constructive and supportive way - in a way that involves the friends, family, professional contacts, customers and stakeholders in our business.
We already have follow-on offers of investment from several existing investors and advisors, one or two customers interested in investing, and we are privileged to be supported by a pretty awesome network. Raising money from "the crowd" is not really any different to raising money through a friends, family and angel network or existing investors, except that it's done publicly in a way that is easy to share and show to people around you. It widens the pool of potential supporters and investors. There is significant business benefit to involving you, and the wider Hubbub community, in the process of fundraising. We don't just want to raise money, we want to raise a network and a community of people who want us to grow and scale - we want people to share what we do with the world, and to bring us new leads, new opportunities and new business.
We want to protect our stakeholders and our long-term mission. To date, this network - you - have stuck with us and believed in us for three years. Several of our student network and university customers have even asked to invest. We have a group of incredible people both inside the team and inside the Hubbub community. We want to give everyone an opportunity to be part of our journey. Our mission here is to create the world's biggest philanthropic network - the team, technology and strategy are ready to make that happen. Now we want both the cash and the support to help make it a reality.
Well, for us, the choice was pretty obvious:
Volume - as the dominant equity fundraising platform by volume, Crowdcube is best positioned to open our proposition up to a wide network of investors. There are several previous examples of crowdfunding platforms raising money through Crowdcube, so it seemed the natural choice.
Partnership - Crowdcube are our partners already in the education space, so we know them well and trust them.
Expertise - Crowdcube has a large team of people who understand the motivations of crowd-investors. Although we know crowdfunding, having equity-specific expertise has been very useful in crafting a great story.
What will the money be used for if the fundraise is successful?
Firstly, when we started looking at our next "growth and investment" plans 5-6 months ago, we had a great product, but a very small customer base. The product was cool, but relatively unproven, and we knew we needed to deliver it to a large number of customers, demonstrate that it worked, and then look at how we grow our team to deliver this at scale.
We discussed our growth plans with a number of angel investors, EIS funds, and VCs, and in recent months, the business has been picking up considerable speed. Not only is the University of York's site doing excellently, but we now have 6 live platforms and we're expecting to have another 10 live towards the start of the academic year. We are generating revenue through the sales of our software, and we have also seen serious interest from other non-profit sectors - a hospital trust, a major UK federated charity, a Corporate Social Responsibility Programme, and the Further Education sector. These are not just early discussions - these are customers negotiating prices and going through the final stages of our sales pipeline.
Secondly, we have reworked the value proposition around Enrich - our "email to social" campaign tool - and we are now making sales to major universities and charities across the UK.
Both of these have changed the game. Whilst larger scale VC rounds remain on our growth plan to take on the world, in the short term they restrict our ability to engage with investment opportunities to a few individuals and firms - which can impact the speed of decisions and the flexibility of funding. Crowdfunding opens up fundraising opportunities to friends and family, advisors, customers as well as the more experienced investors who are already interested in participating.
We just want to get on with growing the business, growing sales and growing revenues - and do so quickly and efficiently. I've been keeping an eye on the general crowdfunding space for a while now, and the timing for Hubbub to use crowdfunding couldn't be better. I was involved in the FCA consultation on equity crowdfunding last year, and in April this year, the new regulations came into force. In essence, the new regulations legalized (and formalized) the practice of equity crowdfunding from the public. Shortly afterwards, I joined the UK Crowdfunding Association's Board of Directors, to work collaboratively with other platforms to enhance the crowdfunding market and awareness in the UK and EU.
We're delighted to be crowdfunding, and we can't wait to get started on growing Hubbub, bringing on board the crucial team hires to enable us to scale, and empowering hundreds of new customers to experience for themselves what crowdfunding can do for them.
Amount raised so far: £226, 660
Target amount: £250,000
Equity offered: 8.12%
Tax relief: EIS (pending)
Days left: 17