Hi Lex, thank you for taking part. Please tell us a bit about yourself?
I am the Founder of OFF3R and QVentures, I'm heavily involved in the FinTech and finance community in London where I live and work and enjoy working with inspiring people with different backgrounds and motivations. I've founded a number of ventures across hospitality, retail and technology and get a little over excited over the prospect of creating new things that I believe can make a difference.
What is OFF3R?
OFF3R collates the investment opportunities from all the leading crowdfunding platforms like Crowdcube and Seedrs. You can view the deals via our free mobile app which is available on iOS and Android. It's a free app that uses a Tinder-style swipe system to make browsing and bookmarking opportunities a breeze.
Crowdfunding has really taken off over the last few years with so many successful campaigns. What gave you that spark to create OFF3R and how has it been received?
Crowdfunding has exploded in the last few years, this is great for entrepreneurs and investors and our economy as a whole but does mean that there is more noise in the space and so the task of staying abreast of what's going on has become more onerous. In speaking with a large number of investors and through being a part of the space ourselves we felt there was a strong need for aggregation and simplification. The idea for OFF3R was borne out of these observations and feedback from our friends in the industry.
Is crowdfuding as easy at it seems and what advice would you give to startups planning on putting a campaign together?
No, it's not an easy route to funding and nor should it be. There may be the perception that it's easy because the use of a platform traditionally suggests that it's almost automated. This is really not the case, as with any fundraise the entrepreneur needs to be prepared to compile a number of complicated, well thought out documents; to work on the structure, valuation and modelling for the business.
Most of the successful campaigns start with the backing of a number of private investors who provide the initial momentum for the campaign. During the course of the average 45 day campaign, entrepreneurs will need to work all angles to drum up interest and support. It's a challenging process but for those that succeed it's a great way to get funded and create an army of super advocates and PR for your business.
Becoming so successful at a young the age, can you remember what that moment felt like?
I have enjoyed some periods where what I've been doing has struck a chord. I suffered from a slightly inflated ego in my early-mid 20's courtesy of a few awards and compliments from professional peers, in retrospect this wasn't very useful as I gained a sense of self importance that blurred my focus and view of what's important.
Most startups get to the point where they need to scale up to keep the business growing. What would be your top 3 tips to gain that all important investment?
1. Make sure you approach investors who are likely to be a good fit for the stage and sector you're at.
2. Clear the decks for a couple of weeks to focus on the initial part of the raise so that you can move quickly and maintain focus.
3. Be honest, don't waffle around answers you don't have, respect the value of time, including your own and be concise.
What are your thoughts on social media for business?
It's an essential part of any marketing tool kit, it's a much broader term now than what it has been and applies to your engagement with customers, clients and partners at a number of points in your relationship with them. It's an important area to be unique in, there's SO much noise you don't want to get lost.
Think back to when you first started, what do you know now that you wish you'd known then?
I wish I'd have know that Bitcoin was going to increase in value by such an obscene multiple! Seriously though I may have persevered with some of the simpler, less innovative ideas I've had as I've subsequently seen others do exceedingly well by doing something that already exists slightly better. If I focus away from financial reward alone, I would perhaps not have given myself such a hard time at points, saving time to enjoy the journey rather than being focused on trying to do bigger or better.
If you could sit the pick the brains of any entrepreneur, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
He wasn't very successful as an entrepreneur but had Nikola Tesla been more commercially savy he would have been the wealthiest person in the world for sure. An absolute genius he can be credited with discovering alternating current electricity which allowed it to travel over longer distances, x-ray, radio and wireless communication. His view on what was possible was at odds with the time he lived in, I would love to pick his brains on what he thought was coming next.
So, you're about to pitch for a round of investment, what would be the most valuable part of your pitch?
I've been pitched hundreds of times and one recurring point that always seems to define my lasting feeling in how the entrepreneur explains and justifies the unknowns and their intended path to confronting these unknowns. It relates back to a broader understanding of business theory, the sector and mechanisms that are important in that sector. The best answers balance humility and an acceptance that there are unknowns will a compelling attitude and confidence towards overcoming them.
OFF3R has already received an incredible amount of traction. How do you think it will affect crowdfunding over the coming year?
We want to become an integral element of the crowdfunding and broader alternative investment space, helping to brings hundreds of thousands more investors into the space, educating and building the tools to help entrepreneurs capitalise their dreams and innovate, build value and progress our economy. We have a number of large investors and a world-class team that I believe can make this a reality.