Three year old Lime&Tonic is midway through their Series A fundraising, using a European crowdsourced equity platform to raise some of the funds and generate a lot of word of mouth marketing.
The Prague-based startup was co-founded by Sydney born and raised Stefan Cordiner. Having the company headquartered in Europe has enabled them to use the Seeders crowdsourced equity platform.
The startup is raising 120,000 euros via the platform and 2 million euros in total for this round.
Lime& Tonic offer curated dining and lifestyle experiences. They take a 20% clip of the cost of booking the experience.
Director of Asia Pacific, Mansour Soltani, told StartupSmart they decided to use crowd-equity as an advocacy tactic.
“The aim is to create another talking point about us with customers who already like us. Now they’re sitting down to dinner with friends talking about the company they just bought a bit of.”
The offer went out Lime&Tonic’s 120,000 members before the wider Seeders community of 40,000.
“It’s been crazy. We were so surprised at the response. We were trying to raise $120,000 and have had offers of $25,000 to even $100,000,” Soltani says, adding they’re about to close the Series A round.
The funds will go towards building their tech team, but also marketing and expanding to more locations.
The startup operates in seven countries and is planning to launch new locations with the funds, particularly in Asia.
Soltani says while the company is about six months away from profitability, the Australian unit is profitable and Sydney has the largest membership group of just over 50,000.
“Our biggest challenge so far has been differentiating ourselves from group buying sites and getting in front of the right stakeholders,” he says.
Rather than competing on price like group buying sites, Soltani says Lime&Tonic targets the wealthiest 20% in each location via a network of corporate clients.
“We focus on executive and personal assistants in big corporates, with exclusive offers and free tickets. They become advocates internally, and we’ve had to do very little marketing.”
The majority of the team’s time is spent locking in new experiences and curating the current options. They work with 230 partners worldwide, of which 103 are in Sydney.