Date founded: 2011
Founder: Darren Westlake and Luke Lang
Entrepreneur Darren Westlake originally thought up the idea for Crowdcube in 2008 after struggling to secure finance for previous business ventures. It gained momentum over the next couple of years, before picking up in 2010 when he teamed with marketing professional Luke Lang.
The pair quit their existing roles to focus on Crowdcube full-time and the website launched in February 2011. It took five months before it raised funding for the first company, but November of the same year marked a new £1m funding record for private members club Rushmore.
Crowdcube admits that things that could have been perceived as barriers, like the fact the company was based in Exeter and not London at launch, became strengths. Additionally, businesses appreciated that the founders could offer an entrepreneurial approach rather than a purely finance-led one.
With the concept of equity crowdfunding unregulated at the time of launch, Crowdcube worked with the FCA for 18 months to get regulations in place. Fast-forward through a string of successful projects and the firm is now worth £19.5m, having started with personal savings and investment from friends and family.
Declaring itself “the most established equity crowdfunding platform globally” the company said its strength comes as “we operate in a middle ground, doing smaller deals in a quicker, more efficient way compared to venture capitalists and angel investors”.
The channel now has more than 100,000 members and has raised over £45m for businesses, making the company excel ahead of the competition.
Westlake and Lang, said: “Crowdcube’s disruptive model is democratising an age-old model giving Britain’s startups a much needed boost. It is the next generation of business finance and a powerful force that finally empowers entrepreneurs to bypass business angel networks, venture capital firms and banks to secure funding elsewhere.”
Crowdcube was highly publicised in 2014 after working with Formula One car manufacturer Caterham F1 to help the company climb out of administration in an attempt to raise enough capital to get the team to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in a bid to secure a buyer.
Formula One commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone slammed the campaign and said “we don’t want begging bowls”, but the team secured enough cash by selling off assets and was able to compete.
Speaking to Real Business about Ecclestone’s attitude, Lang said: “It is fantastic that so many fans have been inspired by the campaign and helped crowdfund the team to the track. It would be great if the F1 community itself showed as much support for teams up-and-coming like Caterham F1.”
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