With his company’s third crowdfunding campaign recently hitting 249 per cent of its £500,000 target, hiyacar co-founder Graeme Risby is becoming somewhat of a veteran in the fundraising space.
The peer-to-peer car sharing app, billed as “Airbnb for cars”, has scaled to bring over 1,600 on-demand vehicles to London in just two years, and the development of a new keyless QuickStart technology has seen booking conversions double since November 2017.
Risby and co-founder Rob Larmour turned to crowdfunding once again to fund the roll-out of QuickStart technology and grow the startup’s community through marketing.
Business Advice caught up with Risby to hear about his experiences with the crowd and find out if there are any secrets to a successful crowdfunding campaign.
How did hiyacar start?
hiyacar is a peer-to-peer car sharing app that myself and Rob Larmour begun working on in 2014. I have always been a bit of a car-fiend and at the time, working in the City – I knew that there were lots of people who needed access to a car in London but didn’t need to own one. I’ve always been conscious that your car is your most expensive liability and I wanted to change this by turning my car into an asset.
With the help of ecommerce expert (and friend Rob Larmour), we realised that the obstacle to unlocking the value in people’s cars was simple: an insurance policy that allows owners to make money and covers their car when on hiya.
We then set about solving the “key handover” issue which was that people wanted to hire a car on-demand but although the cars were not being used, the owners were not available to handover the key as they were at work etc. This is where the idea for QuickStart was born.
We completed our first hiya and hired our first employee in 2016 and since then have watched hiyacar evolve into a friendly, living community and a team of 17 amazingly driven people.
Why did you choose to crowdfund?
Having done crowdfunding before, we were familiar with the opportunities and therefore had clear goals and crafted a well-defined strategy to achieve them. Our primary goal was to be able to enable our community to invest in hiyacar, especially as investors are great users and ambassadors.
Secondly, we wanted to achieve marketing and PR benefits. Thirdly, we wanted to use the platform to efficiently gather the funds from other investors that were already engaged.
Have you crowdfunded before?
Yes, on two occasions for hiyacar: before launch in 2015 and to help scaling in 2016
What is the latest round of investment for?
The investment will support general growth but with a more specific focus on rolling out our QuickStart keyless technology, investing in marketing to grow the community and optimising the product.
What have your overall experiences of crowdfunding been?
Our experiences have been good. The key lesson is that it is important to use crowdfunding platforms as a part, but not the main part, of a round: between 50 and 75 per cent of the money raised on platforms tends to come from existing/new investors who are not sourced from the crowd. This means that the “new crowd” will not be the majority of funds that show on a crowdfunding raise.
In addition, we have learnt it is critical to have a great video, to answer questions quickly and clearly and to ensure regular updates to the crowd to make sure the company’s achievements and funding progress are visible. With these learnings and a good amount of the funds committed up front, success is much easier.
Are you looking for funding from anywhere else?
Yes, we are lucky to have already received support from new and existing angels and we are speaking to a number of family funds and VCs about completing the round – watch this space!
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