From a Start Up Loan to a £900,000 Crowdfunding round, Cornerstone is growing and has used finance to do it.

Cornerstone has gone through the finance mill, kicking things off with a Start Up Loan then Angel Funding in 2013/14, before raising nearly £1m through Crowdfunding in 2015. Now it boasts 170,000 customers and has experienced 50% Year-on-Year growth.

Oliver Bridge Founder of Cornerstone
Oliver Bridge, Founder of Cornerstone

Business fact-file

BusinessCornerstone
RegionLondon
SectorRetail
Type of fundingCrowdfunding

Key Takeaways

The Challenge

We needed finance to invest money into marketing to grow our customer base.

The Finance

£500,000

The Outcome

Since its Crowdfunding round, Cornerstone has gone on to raise £6m through High Net Worth individuals and a Venture Capitalist.

The journey to finance

  • We sell our own brand of quality men's toiletries on a subscription model over the internet, using our smart recurring service to effectively automate our customers' bathrooms.
  • We launched in 2013/14 when we raised £5,000 through a Start Up Loan, followed fairly quickly by a £250,000 Angel Funding raise, so we had experience but Crowdfunding is completely different.
  • Firstly, it was on a different scale, our target was £500,000, and secondly, the whole raise is done in the public eye, so if something goes wrong there is nowhere to hide.
  • The whole process is time consuming. When raising large sums via Crowdfunding, there are understandably strict requirements on making lots of information available to investors and lots of details about your business plan for example. Preparation time up front was well spent as it meant we were able to easily handle any questions asked once the campaign was launched.
  • We raised £500,000 within 48 hours, at the time it was one of the fastest ever Crowdfunding raises. We then overfunded for a month after that. We raised £900,000 in total.

Cornerstone's Top Tips

  • 1

    There are strict requirements on making lots of information available to investors, understandably.

  • 2

    If you're relaxed about not being the 100% owner, have an ambition to quickly grow and/or sell the business, then you could consider equity funding as an option.

  • 3

    Crowdfunding involves a high level of public scrutiny. Make sure you've considered every possible question that you could be asked, because I can guarantee someone will ask it!

The best bits about Crowdfunding

  • We now have nearly 300 shareholders who are all big fans and advocates of the business.
  • We've managed to hire staff, sort marketing deals and a host of other things through our investor community.
  • We have a fantastic community around us!