Melbourne startup Bring Me Home was oversubscribed by 200% when it closed its crowdfunding campaign on Sunday, far exceeding its minimum funding target and marketing goals.
Launched through the Startmate accelerator in July, Bring Me Home allows users to find and pick up discounted surplus food from cafes and restaurants at allotted times.
Despite the success of the crowdfunding campaign, Bring Me Home is “still in the middle of the race”.
At the moment, founder and chief executive Jane Kou is gearing up for talks with angel investors and venture capital investors — what she calls “part two”.
Equity crowdfunding was always seen as a better marketing opportunity than a funding one, Kou tells StartupSmart.
“If we’re going to advertise a lot about the brand, we might as well also convert customers to become investors,” she says.
“It’s crazy to see how many of these investors are actually our customers as well — that was what we wanted as well.
“It was kind of our strategy to get our early customers who loved our product to become brand advocates.”
From a financial standpoint, this strategy worked “way over” what Kou had anticipated. The team had hoped for a $200,000 raise, and got $418,000 instead. On the last day alone, 100 more investors jumped onboard.
Kou’s goals were clear before Bring Me Home launched the planning stage of the crowdfunding process: advertise the brand, raise money, and convert existing customers into stakeholders.
“It requires a lot of work — when I say a lot, I mean we were working on it for two months before we open the campaign,” she says.
According to Kou, behind the scenes of every externally visible piece of the campaign was a real team effort.
“Be aware that it’s a lot of work and you need to commit. Otherwise, it’s missing a leg and it’s not going to go well.”
Do a lot of testing
Balking against the instinct to be as conservative as possible in terms of spending, Kou’s team tested ads for effectiveness throughout the campaign.
She warns startup founders they could be passing up learning opportunities if they focus too much on saving money.
On the other hand, Kou also says the team had to analyse why their tests resulted in the ways they did.
“At the start, we spent a bit of money and it didn’t work. But for us, it was a lesson learnt,” she says.
“Whatever we did, even if it was successful or not, we saw that as a lesson and not a failure.”
At the same time, Kou notes it was important for the team to stay encouraged throughout the process, especially when the tests didn’t work out.
“It really does affect performance. If the team doesn’t feel great, it’s going to affect it,” she says.
For the Bring Me Home team, this came in the form of constant reminders they “already made history” as the first Australian foodtech and social impact startup going through equity crowdfunding.
For Kou, this also meant taking care of herself.
“Throughout the process, I felt very close to burning out,” she says.
Kou took two days out to go on a pre-planned ski trip, and found herself refreshed and better equipped to handle the campaign on her return.
“Founders always need to take care of themselves during the raise.”