Klaus-Martin Meyer: Gem, you are responsible for the fact that „salats just got sexy“. Would you please introduce yourself and your company Righteous Ltd?
Gem Misa: Hi. My name is Gem. I’m the founder of an exciting new food company called Righteous. We make the UK’s first brand of all natural salad dressings, which are being sold in over 800 supermarkets nationwide.
Klaus-Martin Meyer: You decided to crowdfund your company. Why did you do so and why did you choose the Crowdcube marketplace and not an alternative marketplace or a direct funding?
Gem Misa: For the first two years, I managed to grow the company on a shoe-string budget – getting it from small farm food shops to shelves of supermarkets. When we reached supermarket shelves, I realised that that was when the hard work really started! I found out that supermarket buyers were not going to take it easy on us because Righteous was a small start-up business. Because we were now on supermarket shelves, we were expected to perform just as well as big brands (despite the difference in marketing budgets!) So I decided that we needed an advertising campaign that would run over the summer (prime salad season) to raise awareness for Righteous; and because I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay for this on myself, I started looking at available funding options. In the end I chose crowdfunding because this didn’t just offer the prospect of getting the funds we needed – it also allowed me to tap a large number of investors who were also supporters of the brand and acted as brand evangelists for Righteous, helping me spread the word on all the exciting things happening to the business. Righteous was successfully funded after only 5 weeks & became the 14th business in the UK to be crowdfunded. The advertisement we developed with the funds we got helped increase sales by 150% during the campaign and settled at 85% higher after the campaign.
Klaus-Martin Meyer: How important are your investors apart from financial terms. How does the crowd help your marketing department for example?
Gem Misa: My investors have been incredibly supportive in so many ways. From telling friends and family about our products – to taking pictures of Righteous dressings on supermarket shelves when I couldn’t afford to pay for merchandisers to do so. I’ve realised that they have become an effective way for ‘grass-roots’ marketing where they raised awareness for Righteous through word of mouth.
Klaus-Martin Meyer: Can you tell us something more about the lessons you learned concerning your funding (communication with the crowd or with Crowdcube, the rewards you offered etc.)?
Gem Misa: My tips to ensure a successful crowdfunding pitch:
1) Don’t rely on crowdfunding investors to find you – do your own campaigning to tell as many people about your pitch as possible.
2) Ensure that you have ‘proof of principle’ that your business works (in my case it was showing that Righteous products were already listed in over 400 supermarkets) – this will give investors more confidence to invest in you.
Once you have investors on board, you need to ensure that you regularly communicate with them to keep them abreast with all the current developments on the business. This will keep them interested & keen to find ways to help you grow the business.
Klaus-Martin Meyer: During your funding you expressed the plan of making your company an attractive acquisition for one of the major food companies. How successful have you been so far and how big is the contribution of your crowdfunding in this context?
Gem Misa: It seems that the business is heading in the right direction with key milestones successfully reached – increasing our profit margins to make the business more competitive; and now working on expansion into other countries. So hopefully this will enable Righteous to have options in the future for future growth, either through acquisition or other plans. Crowdfunding has helped turn Righteous from a kitchen-counter business to a more credible health brand through our TV campaign (http://youtu.be/26KEehfpl-8) – so it definitely has been key to taking Righteous to the next level.
You can find out more about Righteous on: www.LoveRighteous.com