Investing is something we’re all interested in right now. Companies like Airbnb and Uber are dominating, well, the world, and they all started small and not that long ago. Did you know that if you invested £100 into Uber back in 2010, that money would now be worth over a million! Yep, you’d be a millionaire right now. So should you invest? We’ll let you answer that one!
We met Ekaterina Steube, the Campaign Success Manager at Seedrs to find out what it’s all about.
1. What is Seedrs and how is it different to other crowdfunding platforms? How can people invest?
There’s two distinct parts really. If you compared equity crowdfunding and Kickstarter, they are very different. Kickstarter being reward base enabling you to have access to new product but that’s it. Whereas what Seeders does is enable you to own a part of that business and share in their success. As the business grows, your investment grows with it. It’s large risk but with large returns.
2. What exciting projects are you working on right now?
Tandem wants to turn the banking industry on its head and help customers first. Their tagline is “mobile first banking” which means it will be app based and they are making it easier for you to interact with your bank. There’s now forms or branches etc, it’s an opportunity to be a part of a bank, even a co-founder that will eventually challenge the bank industry.
3. Do you think the Kickstarter bubble will burst and everyone will move to equity crowdfunding?
Kickstarter has had a couple of wobbles recently and we are all moving toward a more equity crowdfunding model. Some businesses will do very well on Kickstarter, there’s very much room for both in our space. It depends what you want and what kind of business you have.
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4. Someone who wanted to start their own company, could they come to you and ask “how does it all work”?
We have what we call ‘office hours’ which is an hour every month between different people. It’s a chance to pop in for 20 minutes and have a chat about your idea, your funding and whether it’s the right time to go to crowdfunding. It’s a chance to really reach out to other people outside of your immediate network.
5. Do you think shows like Dragon’s Den glamorizes investing and makes people think that starting a business is easier than it is?
There’s a slight misconception. Starting a business is the opposite of the easy route. It will be your child and life for 24 hours a day, you will care about it because it will be all yours. Dragon’s Den makes it seem more accessible and I think that’s a good thing. There’s a perception of risk adverseness as opposed to the US where people start businesses quite easily while here we think about things too much.
6. Tell us about your career journey
When I graduated from university I took a gap year and found my passion for travelling. I lived and worked in Australia on a dive boat for a year. It started my passion for studying beautiful exciting places. I then moved back to London in a very corporate job in commercial real estate and spent four years doing the sensible thing. My passion for start-ups started when I moved to New York and worked for a company called The Muse.
I started when it was really, really young so there were only eight of us at the time and it was run by two really great female entrepreneurs. They showed me how much passion goes into running your own start-up. I actually was fortunate enough to move back to London and launch The Muse for the UK market. From then I moved to the Cayman Islands in a quarter-life crisis. I spent a year there and then decided to move to a bigger marketplace and Europe being the Fintech capital, we’re way ahead of the US in that. That’s when I discovered equity crowd-funding for the first time but my background in economics and Fintech gelled really well together.
7. What would your advice be to someone who wants your job?
Find something that you’re passionate about. The best way to begin your career in start-ups is finding a company that you’re most passionate about. If you’re passionate about helping entrepreneurs then seeders is exactly the right place to be. I’m fortunate enough to work with incredibly smart entrepreneurs who want to drive their businesses forward.You need commitment and an awful lot of patience.
8. What skills do you think are most important?
The skill-set is very diverse. There are elements of business development and being able to talk your platform and why what you do is better than your competitors. Other skills, a background in finance is very useful to understand things like tax returns, evaluations better. You are really giving companies advice how they should be valuing their business. But a background in economics is not essential.
Beyond that, an awful lot of it comes down to a motivation to help people.
9. What’s a typical working day for you?
Typically, it will begin around 8/8:30am and I will schedule various calls with entrepreneurs at various stages in their campaigns. Each entrepreneur comes onto our platform before their campaign is launched so we can set up a marketing plan. The entrepreneur running the campaign understands what he/she needs to be doing on their side and then we explain what we can do to help. Following that there’s always meetings wherever those might be. I’m lucky enough to go to Italy next week to develop the Italian side of our business. There’s never a dull moment!