Interviews

Togethera: Securing angel investment from serial entrepreneurs

6 min read

07 September 2015

Former editor

With private family photo-sharing and messaging app Togethera having just charged itself with £220,000 worth of expansion capital, we grilled co-founder Sokratis Papafloratos on what it takes to secure the backing of successful entrepreneurs like the founders of Secret Escapes and Shutl.

The founders of Togethera have a strong resume to call upon, having worked at Facebook at TrustedPlaces before.

The duo, Matt Dempsey and Sokratis Papafloratos, have overseen 400 per cent growth in the last year and now claim to have 50,000 users around the world. 

It’s unique approach to social media means users can eliminate stalking ransomers and use the paid-for premium service to share pictures and videos with closes friends and family.

Now, a crowdfunding round held on equity fundraising platform Crowdcube has attracted the attention of a prolific group of investors and entrepreneurs including Shutl and eCourier founder Tom Allason, Secret Escapes co-founder Andrew Breton and Forward Internet Group founder Neil Hutchinson.

We found out more from Papafloratos, mainly on how to get big-ticket investors on board.

(1) Please tell us a little about yourself and the business

I’m a tech entrepreneur and I love creating products and businesses that connect people and make their daily lives better. Togethera is the second startup I have co-founded, with the first being TrustedPlaces – which was acquired by Yell Group. Very occasionally, I invest in other startups, like Secret Escapes, Calm.com and Mainframe. 

Togethera is a super-simple, private photo-sharing and messaging app for your family and loved ones. 

(2) How competitive do you think the funding space is right now?

It’s always competitive in terms of companies looking to raise funding, but we’ve seen a real change (for the better) in the UK funding environment in the last 12 months, with a number of key players entering the market. 

This includes top-tier funds like Google Ventures, new funds like Mosaic, and a solid roster of founders and tools like crowdfunding coming into their own. It’s a very healthy environment, with a lot of capital and a number of options for startups to raise though

(3) How did you decide on the right approach for your business?

The key factor for us was the fact that we had an existing community of users, who were really passionate about the product and what we’re creating with Togethera. 

Crowdfunding lets us engage these users, enables them to support us and share any potential upside.

(4) What strategies did you employ to secure the backing of likes of Secret Escapes and Shutl founders?

Nothing complicated. I’ve known Andrew (Bredon) for years and was also one of the first angels in Secret Escapes. I didn’t know Tom Allason (Shutl), but got a very warm introduction from one of our other investors – Andy McLoughlin. 

It really helps to have or build a relationship through a warm introduction, as with any investor. It’s also critical to create momentum around your round and have a simple, credible plan, product and ideally tractions. Beyond that, what helped in our case was the fact that both Andrew and Tom liked and used Togethera and believed in the team behind it. 

Raising though crowdfunding has its own challenges and requires different strategies. We’re putting all the lessons we learned in an easy-to-follow playbook that will be published next month and should hopefully help founders.

Insider tips on raising investment from angels and high-net worths

(5) What is it you think these kinds of serial entrepreneurs are looking for from their investments?

As any investor, they’re looking to back big ideas, with great potential returns and teams they’d like to work with. 

(6) Are they looking to have an active role?

Not really – they’re pretty busy with their own companies. Having said that, they’ve been incredibly generous with their time, network and advice. 

(7) What do investors want to see when it comes to monetisation plans from a social platform?

A business model that enhances the user experience and key principles around the product, which can also scale. This is why we’re working with a freemium model and innovative printed products that augment the digital user experience. 

(8) What are your future plans for the business?

We’re just getting started with Togethera and are really encouraged by the feedback, engagement and support we’ve had so far. We’re currently focused on growth and monetisation that does not impact your privacy. 

Photo sharing and messaging are growing very rapidly and we believe there is a huge, global audience for a social product, which is also private. We want to be the globally recognised leader in that space.