Interview: Wellesley Pitches to Raise 1.5M from the Crowd

UK marketplace Wellesley is currently pitching to raise 1.5M GBP in a convertible from the crowd.

Interview with Graham Wellesley, CEO, Wellesley

What is Wellesley about?

Wellesley is a lending business. It provides an alternative for borrowers than traditional high street lenders. Our business allows us to meet the needs of two key underserved markets:

  • experienced mid-sized property developers who are building homes in the UK
  • investors seeking higher returns that can be achieved in deposit accounts who are willing to take a level of additional risk through a range of different products.

What are the three main advantages for lenders?

  • Lenders can achieve higher risk adjusted returns than are available in traditional deposit accounts
  • Property development lending is asset backed
  • Funding is being put to good use, helping to build homes in the UK

What are the three main advantages for borrowers?

  • They are dealing with a lending firm who specialises in property development
  • We are committed to very high levels of service and quick decisions
  • Each individual borrower is important to us

Wellesley is quite established in the UK marketplace lending sector. Why do your raise capital via Seedrs through a convertible now?

We want to raise more capital to enable us to invest in acquiring new customers and developing our technology. All of our external funding is retail rather than institutional. Raising further equity through a retail route will help us to build a business where strong alignment of interests between investors and shareholders will build a stronger company for the long term.

To which extend (if any) are equity investors covering capital losses on loans to p2p lenders vs the mini bond holders?

  • So far the board has chosen that the company (shareholders / equity investors) will cover the losses incurred by all other investors. This is at the board’s discretion and investors are all aware that they are taking risk in relation to property development lending. Investors continue to carry the risk of losses on both P2P and mini-bonds.
  • Wellesley aims to use the funding to expand its business, its marketing, human resources and IT development.

Wellesley originated about 80M pound YTD. Did you experience any effect of Brexit and what is your outlook for 2017? How do you see the opportunity of the IFISA market?

  • In the run-up to the referendum and in its immediate aftermath property development across “middle Britain” took somewhat of a pause. There are signs now that growth is returning to the market and the outlook for 2017 is positive as the key driver – the demand for more housing – shows no sign of reducing.
  • We continue to develop a product that meets the technical requirements of the IFISA market and will provide an update as soon as there is more to say.
  • We specialise in multi-unit developments, our average unit size is less than £500k. As a result we believe that we are well-placed to face any challenges that the UK residential housing market may face post-Brexit.

Are there any plans for international expansion?

At this stage, quite the opposite. We had started doing some lending in Majorca, Spain and decided back in the first half of 2015 that we would be better able to serve our customers through the economic cycle if we focused on our core expertise and competency in the UK market. Continue reading

Interview: Flender Pitches to Raise 500K

Flender is a UK startup (with background in Ireland) currently pitching to raise 500K GBP from the crowd.

Interview with Kristjan Koik, CEO of Flender

What is Flender about?

Flender is a peer to peer finance platform which helps businesses and consumers to borrow and lend money through their existing networks.

Businesses can leverage their customer base and strengthen loyalty; while friends become part of each other’s’ success. Flender does this while adding a new element of trust via social network connections.

Flender emphasizes the social relationships between borrowers and lenders. Don’t you think borrowers are hesitant to ask friends and connections for money?

The social lending market among friends, family and connections has never been formalized, which is crazy when you consider that this is a market worth over 3 billion EUR a year in Ireland and the UK based on independent research performed in September 2016.

Asking people that you know for money – and lending to them – is an awkward thing to do and is certainly an unreliable means of finance. Whether it’s to fund further study, grow a business or to fund home improvements, Flender will let you borrow from and lend to people with whom you have a connection much more easily.

For individuals, there is the satisfaction of helping others while earning more interest than a standard savings account while businesses can have access to funds faster and at the interest rate they prefer. Everyone wins.

P2P lending has evolved a lot over the past 10 years. Your model has a back to the roots touch to me. Do you see your model as a reinvention of the true spirit of p2p lending?

I believe p2p lending and the sharing economy is the future of finance.

We have all lent or borrowed money at some stage of our lives and will use some sort of finance in the future – be it mortgage, car leasing, credit card, deposit account or investments. Similarly, we all have people in our social circles and professional networks who have money to lend or are looking for finance. It makes no sense that rather than doing these transactions with people who you know and trust we would do these with complete strangers with whom we know little or nothing.

Flender is not trying to create a new marketplace. We are simply formalising existing massive social lending market and by providing a seamless user experience and having first- mover advantage we feel we can dominate this sector.

The pitch video

Flender positions itself as different to other p2p lending marketplaces. Yet you take these as benchmarks for valuations in an exit. Furthermore your expected margin is much higher than those of other UK p2p lending marketplaces. What is the reasoning behind this?

Yes, we are very different to other p2p platforms, but investors will initially want to benchmark against something with which they are familiar, hence our comparison to existing platforms. Continue reading

Pitch Open For Investment Into Landbay Shares

In December 2013 I saw the pitch of a promising pre-launch UK p2p lending startup called Landbay pitching on the UK p2p equity platform Seedrs to the crowd. The pitch explained how they planned to do p2p lending secured by property in the UK. I liked the proposal and invested a small amount in Landbay shares.

Since then it has been very interesting journey. I watched how Landbay fared, saw them grow the marketplace substantially. There have been subsequent following rounds into which I invested again. Shares issued through Seedrs come with pre-emption rights, that means I am entitled (but not obliged) to invest in next rounds to avoid dilution of my share percentage.

Currently Landbay is pitching to raise 1M GBP at a pre-money valuation of 10.3M GBP. You can see the current pitch here. The shares are priced at 85 GBP, that is the minimum investment amount (normally most Seedrs pitches come with a minimum investment of just 10 GBP). At the time of this writing the pitch is already filled 91%. Before it opened for public bidding recently, it was only accessible for existing shareholders like me to enable them to execute their pre-emption rights. I am not sure the pitch will allow overfunding.

Last week Landbay announced that they received an investment from Zoopla. Zoopla is a company that operates property sites uSwitch and Prime Location.  Zoopla announced full year results (ending September 20, 2015) showing a revenue increase of 34% as the top line number jumped to £107.6 million. Profit for the year increased 20% to £25.4 million.  The partnership with Landbay is designed to help scale their retail customer base as the P2P lender becomes a more established mortgage lender.While the precise amount of the investment into Landbay was not disclosed, Zoopla invested into a total of 4 companies and the total for that was 1M GBP. This deal will also trigger previous convertible rounds that Landbay did on Seedrs.

 

 

If you are interested in the pitch you don’t need to be a UK resident. Just sign up at Seedrs and follow the process. If you are outside of the UK, I recommend considering to use Transferwise or Currencyfair, when depositing money in order to reduce currency transfer fees significantly. If you are a UK resident, note that the pitch is EIS eligible.

This article is not an investment advice. Investing in startups bears significant risks, including total loss of investment.

Landbay volume growth
Landbay loan volume growth

Interview: Commuterclub Pitches to Raise 650K from the Crowd

CommuterClub is a promising startup currently running a pitch to raise their 2nd round from the crowd. I really like their business model and have invested in both rounds.

Interview with Petko Plachkov, CEO and Founder

What is Commuter Club about?

CommuterClub delivers a new and innovative way to access public transport as a subscription service.

By bringing together a low cost loan with the existing annual ticket, CommuterClub can deliver the savings of an annual, in a far more convenient and attractive package as a monthly payment plan.

Our goal is to continue to bring new innovative products for commuters, delivering value for money and ease of use.

I really like the fact that your business model builds on long customer relationships. What do you do to achieve high customer satisfaction?

CommuterClub operates in a sector dominated by large slow moving monopolies who manage public transportation. Our proposition is to offer an alternative approach to commuters that begins with their needs. Our focus on a simple customer journey, great customer service and a simple product all deliver a fantastic outcome for consumers.

This is key in ensuring high customer satisfaction and providing a real alternative to the existing ticketing options.

The audience of this blog is highly interested in p2p lending. Can you please explain how your company ties into this industry and what role Ratesetter and potentially Zopa play for your financing?

CommuterClub works with RateSetter to fund all loans. As a business P2P was the key building block enabling us to deliver a low cost and flexible product to consumers, something that we would have found exceedingly difficult if we worked with incumbent banks.

We expect to continue to work with p2p going forward and to maintain our close relationship with RateSetter.

The pitch video

The timing of this round is a bit of a surprise to me since you indicated to shareholders recently ‘at our current trajectory we expect to be [able to] sustain growth from retained earnings’. Why did you decide to raise further capital now?

CommuterClub has made tremendous progress in diversifying the business expanding nationally in the UK, launching a B2B solution and also looking to cover other verticals like parking.

This expansion of our product set has also expanded our target market and we are now raising capital to fund our continued expansion and growth.

Name one fact that makes your pitch a better investment than any other pitch on Seedrs.

Real, proven traction backed by millions in loans and thousands of happy customers.

P2P-Banking.com thanks Petko Plachkov for the interview.

This article is not an investment advice. Investing in startups bears significant risks, including total loss of investment.

 

ING Partners with Equity Crowdfunding Site Seedrs to Tackle Belgium and Luxembourgh Markets

Seedrs logoING Bank partners with equity crowdfunding service Seedrs and reward based crowdfunding platform Kisskissbankbank to tackle the markets in Belgium and Luxembourg. Through this partnership, ambitious businesses will have a fast-track service for equity crowdfunding on Seedrs. The partnership will also raise the awareness of equity crowdfunding in the wider business community.

During consultations with businesses, ING Belgium representatives will assess which platform may be suitable and discuss how it works. Using the ING fast track procedure it only takes the entrepreneur a couple of clicks to submit an initial campaign enquiry for review. When Seedrs receives a project through this new route, it will be assessed within two days to determine if it’d be a good fit for Seedrs and equity crowdfunding. Continue reading

Seedrs Shares Available in Equity Crowdfunding Campaign on Friday

Seedrs LogoSeedrs, one of the tow biggest equity crowdfunding platforms in the UK (and probably in the world), has announced that it will open a new campaign offering shares to the crowd on Friday. To bid in the pitch and become a shareholder, interested investors need to register at the Seedrs website first and then wait for the campaign to open on Friday.

Jeff Lynn, CEO of Seedrs said:

Last month Seedrs announced its £10 million Series A round led by Woodford Patient Capital Trust and Augmentum Capital. As we explained, we have set aside £2.5 million of that round for existing shareholders and new investors to invest through a campaign on the Seedrs platform. …

The campaign will go live to members of our Leedrs Club (the group of our most active investors) at 9:00 am this Friday, 21st August, and it will then go live to all investment-authorised members at 12:00 pm the same day. … Investments will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, and although you will have several days to make payment after investing, we would suggest [investors] transfer any funds [they] wish to invest sooner rather than later.

Please note that by the time the campaign opens on Friday, a significant proportion of the £2.5 million will already have been taken up by existing shareholders exercising their pre-emption rights. We expect, however, that there will still be a good bit of room for new investors, and it is our hope that we will be able to use this opportunity to expand our investor base meaningfully.

I expect that this offer will fill very quickly. The last comparable offer by Crowdcube, Seedrs main competitor, was filled within minutes.