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 beena 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 didnt need to own one. Ive 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.
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.