Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Please let us help you Crowdfund - you are making so many easily avoided mistakes


Looking at the Crowdcube platform recently, it is obvious many of the pitches have little clue what they are doing. We can help you - for free.


So many of Crowdcube's recent pitches have failed to get even close to 50% completed. 

ECF Solutions, our ECF consultancy, could help you avoid the heartache and waste of time that this involves. You either need to revamp your pitch, look at another platform or choose a totally different route for your financing. 

We will look over your business and your pitch and help you place it on the best possible platform, at the best value to achieve the capital raise you require and in the best possible shape to be a success.

We can do this effectively because - 

- We are totally independent.

- We have 30 years experience in creating SMEs

- We have reviewed over 2,000 ECF pitches

- We have been involved in ECF since 2011, are recognised by the FCA as a genuinely independent information source, work for various platforms on a contract basis and have this blog which is read by around 1000 people a week - many if them investors.

- We have called many of the failures on Crowdcube, before they happened and continue to do so.

Our initial service is free. If we believe that your business is suited to this type of funding, we will then charge you a small upfront fee to put together your campaign and help you through it. If it is not, then we tell you that and try to advise on other avenues.

When you are successful, we then take a prearranged percentage as a fee - so the impact on your cashflow is zero. 

With our help, Crowdcube could have a much higher success rate and far fewer very sad looking campaigns at 10% or 20% completed, by the time they end. It's bad for moral and it's bad for business to fail.

Email us now on info@ecfsolutions.co.uk to have a chat.

Some of the articles featuring us - 

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/lone-researcher-spells-out-the-dangers-of-following-the-crowd-jw990k2b5

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-07/you-too-can-invest-in-a-startup-likely-to-go-bust

http://www.bikebiz.com/news/read/what-the-hell-happened-at-vulpine/021275

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/businessclub/9251891/Peer-to-peer-website-accused-of-misleading-investors.html

https://ftalphaville.ft.com/2016/04/08/2158704/investors-dont-like-your-company-try-crowdfunding/

Monday, 16 October 2017

Crowdcube, Little Brew, less beer, and the tale of the open company and closed brewery.


Little Brew raised £109k on Crowdcube in 2013. Crowdcube decsribed it as 'Little Brewery with Big Plans'. They were wrong.


This a classic tale of Crowdcube's incompetence. We had this comment from a Little Brew shareholder - 

Little Brew are a disgrace - it's been over 6 months since the founder emailed shareholders saying that he had sold all of their equipment and that the only realistic outcome "may" be to wind up the company. That's more than enough time to either create a plan for the business, or announce a wind up. Instead we have no news, and investors cannot claim tax relief. He says that he takes investors' money seriously, yet he is happy to deny them loss relief through silence. 

Crowdcube, as you would expect, have been utterly useless. They should just send an intern up to have a chat to him (surely they have his home address??) - a cheap way to keep credibility. Instead they just try emailing him at an account that has been closed. 

Little Brew are now 17 months overdue with their accounts and other filings. As you can read above, they seem unlikely to be making any revenue again. The brewery has been closed in all but name for at least a year but CC SHs are unable to claim their loss relief because there is some reason the company hasnt actually been closed. CC are either unwilling or unable to find out why. Its a zero service game for the people who trusted Crowdcube to pitch them a reasonable business. 

As with so many of Crowdcube's businesses, it is no the fact that they have failed but the way they have failed and the total incompetence of Crowdcube to offer shareholders any help. Read through our posts and it is by far the most common theme. 

It will continue until the only people who can do something, do something. Hello the FCA - which should really stand for Failing to Correct Anything.   


Sunday, 15 October 2017

Jam Vehicles eventually provide accounts -



Crowdcube funded Jam Vehicles have now filed accounts for YE April 16, just a few months before the 2017 ones are due. 


These accounts show losses of £200k, little cash, negative CA and a BS that is £240k in the red. Around £430k has been raised since in equity finance. 

According to their KS campaign no bikes have been delivered yet, despite various promises and updates. The estimated delivery date for the bikes these people bought was April 2015.

Are we yet again seeing Crowdcube funding being used to fill the hole left by KS creditors - ie unfulfilled orders. You would think that at some stage people will learn that this is not a great idea as an investment. 

Judgement reserved until the next accounts arrive in January 2018 - if they do. The good news for CC investors is that the paper value from the last funding puts the company at around £2.2m, so well ahead of the CC campaign's £700k. They just need to provide a bike or two. 

Square Pie and the mystery of the Disappearing Restaurants

When Square Pie managed to get £650k off 324 Crowdcube punters for their 4 year mini bond in September 2015, they promised mass openings. Now in October 2017, they have fewer restaurants than two years ago.


We have given these guys some previous coverage - here

The original target for the bond was £2m but that soon looked untenable so they reduced it to £450k. That was a dumb idea. Then they had 6 restaurants in London, now they have only 3. Plus one in Birmingham.

In lieu of restaurants, they have teamed up with Vue - the cinema operators - to offer a pie selection to film goers. They have one Vue in London and one in Bristol. 

The last accounts to YE Dec 16 will not have thrilled SHs - a loss of around £300k against a projected profit of £75k. It is hardly surprising given the change in company's core strategy. 3 of the London restaurants from 2015 have now closed - which strikes us as very odd considering what the Crowdcube pitch said about them. The 2015 pitch showed the company operating 12 restaurants by YE 2016 - with 20 by the end of this year. 

So now they have joined The Eden Project and Riverside to see who can be the first Crowdcube mini bond funded company to fail to repay investors. Square Pie have little cash and now new investment this year. Their reviews remain poor. I wouldnt bet against them.  

Vrumi lose their vavavoom as Venrex zero them.


Vrumi raised just shy of £1m on Seedrs in 2015. Now along with their VC backers Venrex, they have valued themselves at zero as they try to find a way to work their market.

It's not the end but must be close. Vrumi are in the now rather overcrowded shared space market - they were the self proclaimed Airbnb of the work place. Their plans have failed to create the demand that they predicted, so in a move that must be a first in ECF, they have sent SHs an email stating that they have valued themselves at zero, after receiving the same figure from Venrex.

In 2015 they were valued at £3.5m pre money  - so £4.5m post. Why the company has felt it sensible or necessary to follow the Venrex valuation is not explained. It's not very encouraging for the Seedrs shareholders who were told in the pitch that the company had an 'exceptionally strong' management team. One assumes that cash has run out, targets have been missed and Venrex declined to back another round. 

It sounds like another sad ending - one to be shared amongst you all.


Friday, 13 October 2017

1Rebel raise another £6.6m in a downround for another go at expansion



In a great sleight of hand, old Crowdcube darlings, 1Rebel, have raised £6.6m to do what they stated they would do with their Crowdcube 2015 £2.9m jackpot. Open gyms.


1Rebel originally took £1.5m off Crowdcube members in 2014 - to open gyms. By the end of 2015, they had opened two and came back for more cash - with the plan that they would open another 8 (2pa) over the next 4 years. This got them a round of applause and another £2.9m.

Now in October 2017, they still have just two units but have convinced backers at Codex Capital that they need another £6.6m to open the gyms they havent yet opened. This new deal was not in the plans and will leave CC investors seriously diluted. The £6.6m has been taken in at a valuation of £10m  - so below the 2015 CC round. Shareholders first learnt of this 'progress' via an article in CityAM. Following this, management sent a SH letter out. The question still remains  - have all shareholders been diluted equally? James Jack, the Chairman, has assured all CC SHs that the Board approved the down round and that these new SHs are serious business players who will help propel Rebel on to success. He didnt ask them though.

In all the previous SH updates, Rebel referred to the need for new debt finance - not equity. Using the much abused EBITDA profit gambit, they hoped to be able to borrow. Clearly this didnt happen as required. EBITDA was been hammered as a cash generating indicator post the Tech bubble crash. We could have told them that.

Of course it goes without saying that they have missed all of their Crowdcube targets and that this £6.6m was not in the plans.

This latest round of funding prevents them from closing but it also hugely dilutes the people who took the risk in 2014 and 2015 on promises that have failed to materialise.

Where has the 2015 money gone? No new units were opened which would have soaked it up - that is what it was for after all. They have delayed their accounts, so we will just have wait till Christmas to find out. Our guess is that the original model was not right and we have Rebel admitting as much to SHs. Then a couple of left field ideas wasted time and money. They were running to just stand still with loses in 2015 of £1.7m - more than twice the projected figure, which was in fact mainly historic.
 
Maybe that's what they mean by burning the fat?

Perhaps now with the metrics pointing in the right direction they have a chance - which is more than you would guess CC shareholders have.

As a footnote, we wonder if this down round will be featured by Crowdcube in their 'valuation' game that they publish every year? Somehow we doubt it.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Government response to ECF regulation query


As expected, our Government have run for cover when it comes to answering any detailed queries about the lack of proper regulation in the equity crowdfunding sector.


Stephen Barclay MP is Economic Secretary to the Treasury. He stated in a reply to a query on the matter, that ECF is regulated by the FCA - as if this was news. He made no mention of what this meant but continued that  - 

''The Government has implemented a regulatory regime that is robust and proportionate......'' 

As we all know this is total nonsense. The FCA do what you tell them Stephen and as you are not telling them anything that is exactly what they are doing. 

He goes on to raise the vital issue but spectacularly manages to miss the nail and hit his thumb. The issue is that ECF is new and that the FCA have no experience or expertise or Government advice on how to treat it - because it is new. Its all part of the new age with new technologies and the old system cannot cope with it. The best he can offer is that the ECF platforms are supposed to regulate offers so that they are clear and fair. 

Thank you, Stephen.

It is a lengthy answer which says absolutely nothing and addresses none of the real issues. That presumably is why he has been given his job.

He might of course have a few other pressing matters stuck to his desk. Meanwhile the ECF mess continues to build.

Pass the fudge.