Sunday, 23 October 2016

Surely Oliver Pugh's Early Bird is no Phoenix?

Oliver Pugh is the founder of Early Bird. Early Bird is in liquidation having lost investors around £600k and creditors a whole pile of cash.

This article has been amended after it was pointed out that some of our facts were not entirely correct. We have included corrections in red.

Oliver, through some deal with the liquidators, seems to have now relaunched EB and is appealing for funding via his Linkedin page. How this is allowed is beyond us. Oliver is not appealing for new funding - this is an old entry at the top of his Linkedin page here - why not try to update it Oliver?

Oliver Pugh

Currently raising new equity investment round for EarlyBird : Contact me for your free investment pack in the post.
  1. EarlyBird
  1. Event Hire Company LTD
  2. McManus Pub Co. Ltd
  1. The University of Northampton

Assets valued by Oliver in the accounts for EB at over £100k are now valued by the liquidators at £250. This includes £38k worth of stock which according to the liquidator is past it's sell by date and has been destroyed. This is all stock purchased by EB in the last 9 months as the previous accounts reveal a zero position.Oliver has asked the liquidator if he can purchase the EB client list.

Not once since Oliver started EB has he managed to get even close to the figures he claims for the business. On Crowdcube he claimed lots and delivered zero; twice. He then went to Envestors, where he gave inaccurate historic figures for turnover according to the platform and once we had told the platform of his previous debacles on CC, they took his pitch down. His projected turnover on Envestors went from £40k to £1.4m in 12 months - the same 12 months the business has spiralled into the ground. So much for due diligence.

We have warned about Oliver many times here.

A previous company he claims to have started called Event Hire Company Ltd -( ltd) he claims he sold in 2015 on his Linkedin page. But there was nothing to sell and no evidence it was sold. Accounts are now 6 months OD, Oliver is still the only director and shareholder. Oliver has explained that he sold the assets of this company in 2015 - not the company as his Linkedin page states. We cannot give you a figure for these assets but its fair to say they were not worth much in the last filed accounts. The accounts are OD by six months simply because the company has ceased to trade and Oliver thinks its fine to leave the loose ends dangling.

You might ask why the Crowdcube DD department did not pick up this very simple and very obvious lie on Oliver's Linkedin page - it would have given them a red light. But despite the assurances that are continually issued by Luke Lang and DarrenWestlake, that CC's DD department uses state of the art tech to check all businesses and owners, they failed to spot this glaring, gyrating, ghetto blaster of a warning. Twice. Are we surprised. No.

EB's SM is full of complaints from deserted, angry customers.

So is this really the sort of SME activity equity crowdfunding was set up to encourage? What are Crowdcube doing about it?

The liquidator's report makes for interesting reading and we will be running posts on this and the farcical situation that emerged with Envestors, who punted Oliver for £500k only a few months ago, over the weeks to come. As a taster the liquidator's report reveals that the office cleaner has removed one of the company's computers in lieu of payment.

If ever there was an example of why we need to change the system, then Early Bird is it.

PS only yesterday Oliver Pugh was to be found pretending that he knows how to run a business when                                                                                     
he was on stage at London Food Tech Week - he is the one on the middle. The promotion said he ran Early Bird Snacks which in itself is a lie as the liquidator does.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Monzo to raise £4.5m without the Crowd

As if to emphasise the story below, we have been contacted by a Crowdcube shareholder in Monzo (previously Mondo), the challenger bank that raised £1m on Crowdcube recently.

The Board at Monzo have issued shareholders with some news - which if you read our last blog is at least a good start. However the news is not all good.

In the Crowdcube pitch Monzo talked about the need to raise further funding, approximately £15m. The Crowd would be involved. The Board have now decided that they will raise a separate £4.5m now via VCs. No Crowd.

When we asked this shareholder if he thought this was in the interests of all those who backed Monzo via Crowdcube, he said -

Personally I don't think it's ideal - they should've given the crowd an opportunity to, given they point out they "couldn't have built Monzo" without the Crowd's help - and the Crowd even helped pick a new name for the bank. I'm sure the appetite is there.

What this now does is dilute the crowd's holding which may well have an effect when Monzo come back for another £15m next year, We will have to wait and see. As someone once said, shitting on your own doorstep is never a good idea.

Crowdcube investors are now contacting US for help!!!

Its is really very depressing.
3 times this week we have been contacted by shareholders in companies that funded via Crowdcube, to ask us to help them find out what is happening. 

We are of course happy to help where we can - but what the hell are Crowdcube doing? Appearing at Crowdfest to soak up the adulation of their own industry's PRing.

Today's contact came about Chupamobile - which raised £740k on Crowdcube in 2014. Ignoring what they do, what they have achieved to date is waste this money as far as we can tell. Projections showed them in profit for 2015 and making a profit of over £1m for 2016. But the reality is, as it always seems to be, that they have clocked up the losses and continue to do so. Only silently.

That aside, why is it that companies feel they can abuse the very people who funded them? Why are Crowdcube not involved in pushing companies to give a minimum of quarterly updates via email - how long would that take? Where is the bloody FCA when you need them? Stumbling through another review in which they have used the gangsters to advise on the regulation.

Things are clearly not right when a blogger from deepest Scotland is the messenger for so many shareholders. Less preening more action please Mr Williams!

Thursday, 20 October 2016

UP Investments follows the Crowdcube record of failure - but this one is special!

UP Investments raised £137k on Crowdcube in 2014. They were supposed to be the go to place for crowdfunding.

The company is now to be handed over to White Label Crowdfunding Ltd on a straight share for share deal. UP have stated that their shares are worthless and holders should make negligible value claims - thereby somehow alleviating the fact that this deal wipes out any EIS or SEIS claims (past present or future) that shareholders could make against their UP shares. Claimants already holding rebates will have those deducted from their NVC according to the company.

The founder of UP seems to have carved himself a position with this new company having wracked up losses with UP of over £700k. The founder claims that they failed to raise enough capital. According to their accounts they have raised considerably more capital than their Crowdcube plans showed and have made considerably higher losses.

White Label have no track record, a sole director and little in the way of capital. So what they bring to the party is not entirely clear.

If you shine a light from the right direction you could see this as an exit - its in line with the last one from Crowdcube with Wool and the Gang. Pretty sure Darren Westlake wont be taking questions about this today at Crowdfest- it will be a month at least before he realises yet another one of his successes has gone west.

Hello FCA, can you read?

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Tidy Books joins the Crowdcube queue of disppoinments

There is a consistent message here. Crowdcube funded business do not do what they state on the tin.

Tidy Books Europe raised money on Crowdcube in 2014. We had hopes after reporting a small profit in 2014 that this company might be the first to achieve figures close to its Crowdcube projections.

But no, 2015 saw a loss against a projected profit of £180k.

Oh well,

Do Crowdcube have a clue what their companies are up to?

We have just been sent a letter that all shareholders via Crowdcube were sent today at 11.30, informing them that Crowdcube have just heard that East End Manufacturing are closing.

'So What', we hear you say.

Well we reported this closure on the 6th September - so well over a month ago.

What is it that the enormous team of Crowdcube interns do all day in Exeter? Certainly not servicing their investors. How much surfing can you do in week?

So now we have the very odd situation that if you want to know what is really going on with Crowdcube funded businesses, you need to come here to us. Looks like even Crowdcube may have been using our services to inform their East End Manufacturing shareholders!! Should we ban them?

Or you could ask Darren about Orsto

When Darren has finished bigging up Crowdcube at today's Crowdfest, why not ask him some real questions - about what has really happened to companies that have funded via his platform.

Like Orsto.

Orsto raised £60k in 2014, the projections used by Crowdcube to sell the equity, showed the company making profits of over £500k for 15/16. Accounts now filed show YE Dec 2015 generated losses of £40k, no cash and a balance sheet in the red for the second year running. The item they pitched on Crowdcube and for which people paid no longer exists (it never did) and the company is now just another watch retailer.

You were warned.

Plenty more by the way.