Case study: They've BAREly scratched the fundraising surface...!Oct 21, 2021
When co-founders Alex & Phil met at a dating industry conference, they realised there was a gap in the market for an app for singles who are open-minded & ready to get away from the more superficial elements of online dating. When they connected with Gillian, who helped them better understand the specific challenges women face with online dating, BARE was born. BARE offers a safe space where singles don’t have to feel uncomfortable about who they are or who they are looking for.
What made you decide to raise investment via crowdfunding?
Because of the community spirit - it was about raising awareness and getting exposure for our brand - and seeing what we could explore with that exposure. We felt we could make more of an impact as a brand - so in terms of funding logic, crowdfunding made more sense for us. We're a company with community focus at heart. Crowdfunding made absolute sense, and we’re pleased! As it obviously worked out for the best. We reached 172% from 255 investors!
You felt like your goal was to secure a community you can rely on. Do you feel like your expectations were matched on that front? And how were you supported?
This campaign has led us to be in exactly the right place. We’ve grown our community, and realised how much we can learn from them. We’re using our crowd to help spread the word on a corporate level, but also on a consumer level. We’ve found people wanting to promote the brand, build awareness and help us market ourselves ahead of launch later on this year. We postponed the launch to make sure everything's completely on track - and to make sure we’re optimising our new community and how they can help. There have been some unexpected delays in terms of getting the funds through, but actually that has kind of helped compliment the journey really! We were recommended to ISQ Crowdfunding by Seedrs. We knew we needed someone to support us, and I think given the value for money and support available, it was just a no brainer really. It just made absolute sense to us to have that extra support, especially when we were having to focus on plenty of other areas of the business.
What parts of the programme do you think you really benefited from?
The best word I could use around what we really gained from the support and the programme in general, is clarification - the overall understanding of what we needed from one end right the way through to the other. ISQ acted as a barometer to help us understand all the different aspects that initially felt quite confusing. I felt like we all met in the middle! There are barriers you face in a funding campaign, and often you need clarification on how best to get past those. ISQ helped us get through this journey, we all established our obstacles and then worked out how best to move past them.
The best value-add for us was that ISQ went above and beyond. I found the 1-2-1 sessions with different members of the team really helpful, and I probably could have benefited from more of those. We only started to use the Facebook client community group towards the end, to get some more clarity from other clients. That helped me a lot. I think as a team we’d have loved to have heard more client stories, so I probably could have used it more. Every business and every campaign is undoubtedly so different, so I think having the option for some extra tailored, or bespoke workshops would have been helpful for us. But the hand-holding we got the whole way through was brilliant.
Thinking about your campaign, what went well? What were the best bits? And if you could give some top tips to somebody e.g. ‘this worked really well for us’, what would you recommend?
If I were to pass on any advice to others embarking on this journey, I think I'd tell people to make sure that they are constantly thinking about their network ahead of even contemplating a campaign. Secure at least 30 people (whether they’re your micro or your macro investors), so that by the time you start to contact people you’re confident you’ve got some lined up that can provide value ahead of your public campaign. So that's my main piece of advice. This was something ISQ drilled into us - that importance of contacting your existing AND your wider network. And although it’s hard to do, and we needed advice on how to tap into and access those people, it really really works. But I do also think every campaign is different depending on the products and what stage they are - so every campaign needs some bespoke support at times.
How did you find the timings of running the campaign? Do you think you could have, or should have done anything differently?
My main job is obviously to run my business, and the crowdfunding campaign really was an aside. It was something we of course needed, and wanted to be successful in, but it was time consuming. I think you need to be really aware that if you haven't got the time, or someone/some people who can help, you may struggle with the amount of work that goes into this. That’s probably also why a support agency was helpful; it prepared us for what we needed to do, when to do it, when to delegate etc.. Sometimes we had to pause crowdfunding, so it was helpful having a structure to come back to, to see where we were, what was next etc. The gears are constantly changing in business. So although we needed to be fluid, we also really relied on processes. Our initial goal was to launch in January, but for various reasons, the campaign was delayed. You can’t put a successful campaign down to potluck, there is a lot of effort involved - and you can’t rush things. That's why you need help, either a team to delegate to, or just a strict process in place. And be prepared to do the work, be prepared that it's going to be quite crazy. Take your time, do it properly!
Would you crowdfund as a way of raising funds again?
Yes, but we’re looking at various options for our next route. Private could be an option. But because BARE is a community app, we feel like this method of funding really does suit us.. So, we haven't ruled it out. In principle, once you're a little bit further down the line, i.e. you've grown the business, you've got more users, you've got more following and traction and everything like that, then it can only lead to more positive things for subsequent raises of this nature because you've got that community engaged already that you can call upon.
What's next for BARE and the growth of the company?
We are focused on launching the app officially before the end of the year. We're going in-house now with all of our teams; marketing, tech, operations, and it's all just transitioning right now. It’s really exciting. We’re currently still only available in the UK, so expansion is definitely on the horizon. We've got a whole new app in a way I suppose, coming before the end of the year too. And then we're ready to just, GROW.