s one half of hip-hop duo Krept & Konan, rap star Krept is best known for tracks like Don’t Waste My Time — and it’s a mantra the entrepreneur has taken into his business life. Alongside selling out the O2 Arena, Krept’s start-ups include Croydon restaurant Crepes & Cones, and a skincare range for infants, Nala’s Baby.
Krept says he learnt to hustle growing up on a council estate in Gipsy Hill, where he sold supermarket drinks, sweets and crisps in the playground to make money. Now he and Sasha Ellese Gilbert, co-founder of Nala’s Baby, are tackling one of the toughest issues for founders right now — finding funding — at SME XPO, the Evening Standard’s two-day event for ambitious business founders and decision-makers in April.
“Don’t be afraid to pitch your business to anyone,” Krept says. For Nala’s Baby, the duo sought out angel investors. “We raised a seven-figure investment after two weeks of back-to-back presentations,” Krept explains. “Angels can give you the benefit of their expertise — accounts, legals, technology — to contribute to your business. They can also assist with introductions to helping hands.”
For Von Sy, founder of child-friendly cleaning products Nimble, crowdfunding was the answer to help his business scale up. “It is relatively straightforward to secure investment from angels when you’re at the start-up stage and from VCs when you’ve already scaled successfully,” says Sy, who will also feature at a panel debate at SME XPO.
“But in-between those stages, crowdfunding has revolutionised the business scene. Aside from cash, thousands of people know more of your brand throughout the campaign, and you’d have at least hundreds of investors who are loyal advocates.
“Crowdfunding also re-ignited my passion for my business — this intangible benefit goes a long way, especially that the entrepreneur’s life is quite lonely and hard.”
Krept says he secured angel investment within a month; Sy points out crowdfunding was a six-month process of pitch prep, filming, editing, due diligence, setting up with the crowdfunding platform, a month-long campaign “and then the ‘fun’ stuff of executing all the legals and getting all the signatures needed”.
“But it’s all worth it when you see the big whopping cash in your bank account after months of hard work.”
Victoria Prew, founder of clothing rental site HURR, whose customers include Kate Middleton, agrees that fundraising is “incredibly stressful for any founder. You’re trying to manage and scale a company day-to-day, while also meeting investors, negotiating term sheets and ultimately closing the round.”
She recently completed a £4million seed funding round backed by venture capital firm Octopus, an early investor in fashion selling site Depop. “We sought best-in-class investors with deep expertise in circular,” she explains. “Our number-one goal was a fund that could help us on a similar journey [as Depop].”
Prew, another SME XPO star, says it’s an opportunity to network. She adds: “Meet as many founders as you can who are a few fundraises ahead of where you want to be. The venture-backed founder network in the UK is incredibly strong and most are willing to share their experiences — positive and negative.”
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