Small businesses including loft converters, tour guides and psychologists all buy company shares for the first time to support the development of Clear Books
Start-up firm Clear Books has shown that ditching traditional business funding routes can pay its way by securing over £1.5m through a customer crowdfunding scheme that echoes that of “employee-owned” retail giant John Lewis Partnership.
So far, over 1,000 small business and sole trader users of the Clear Books cloud accountancy software have demonstrated their confidence in the business, with single investments starting from only £12.
The new ‘partners’ reflect the wide variety of businesses that Clear Books supports, including tour guides, psychologists, loft converters, bookkeepers, accountants and IT consultants.
CEO Tim Fouracre of Clear Books comments: “Our customer base understands the challenges of securing investment and growing a business, and we recognised they were our ideal partners to take the business forward. Many investors are attracted by the spirit of community and like the fact that our success is linked, while others have had enough of private equity and banks and see this as a refreshing way to invest and support a business.”
In their own words, some of the Clear Books investors give their reasons for supporting the company:
“In the tradition of John Lewis with its staff, it encourages interaction.” Sue Hutton
“It is a unique opportunity to be part of a developing company and be able to contribute to the development and growth of the company.” Nick Gane from Sulis Guides, a tour guide company.
“I use the product, I like the product and I like the way the product has developed over the last two years [and find it] is encouraging for the future. The opportunity to invest therefore was an easy one for me.” Geeves Silva, Accountant
“It’s a unique way to gain funding, but a sign of the times that more companies are opting for this strategy of crowd/cloud funding. I think it also highlights the fact that Clear Books is a company that is willing to think outside the box and do things differently. I also believe that this method attracts a certain type of investor who will have a much greater interest in helping Clear Books to grow.” SIM Only Contracts
“It’s a great idea, (co)owners have much more interdependence on each other and will hopefully make each others’ businesses stronger because of this.” ICS Cleaning Clear Books set up its own ‘cloud-funding’ platform in 2013 and raised just over £840K in September, largely from its own customer base. The company is currently going through a second round to raise £3.3m, the largest amount to be raised by a B2B business through crowd funding in the UK. The share offering opened to the public on Monday 4th August 2014, and closes on Friday 22nd August.