What are your plans for growth?
We are expanding and fully refurbishing our St Pancras site in Jan & Feb, increasing its size by 30% by building forwards onto the station concourse. We have a new eight year lease for the site and have some great new ideas we will be introducing to make the market better.
Our second site in Marylebone opens in March. We’ve just approved the designs and expect the builders to be on site after Christmas.
Our third site opens September 2016 in the Nova scheme outside Victoria station. We have just started the design process. We are in discussions about sites for 2017 and are aiming to open two sites per annum moving forwards.
How are you financing your growth plans?
Dan (my business partner) and I started the company with our own money and some asset finance. We then took investment from Pembroke VCT in June 2014 and are currently raising a minimum of £750k via a mini-bond on Crowdcube
How have you found the process of crowdfunding?
We love crowdfunding – it’s such a fantastic way for us to connect with our customers and for them to play a part in the growth of the business and even benefit directly from our success. I think as a business the transparency is very useful as well – we’ve put our business plan and financials up on Crowdcube, subjecting them to public scrutiny, so we really have to stand by our performance and the way we run our business, which we do!
What would your top tips be for SMEs looking for finance?
Firstly nail your business plan and your financial projections and get feedback from any friendly investors, finance directors etc that you know. Then nail your pitch – you need to be able to sum up your business - and critically what your plan for it is – in as few words as possible and in layman’s terms. The ‘elevator’ pitch as it is commonly known. You will only get one opportunity with most potential investors, so vital you get it right the first time. Then work out who your target audience is – the crowd, VCs, angels, banks etc, or a combination of these. You should definitely consider multiple options as it takes time to get finance in place and it’s valuable to have a plan B if your plan A doesn’t work out. Finally get out there and pitch to as many of your chosen audience as you can get in front of.