Take financial and tech brains, and throw in some passion. Next, turn the heat up on an innovative business model. The result? A fledging Edinburgh fintech on track to turn over more than £3 million by 2020.
It’s the perfect, ready-made outreach strategy to grow any business. Give niche investors a means to believe and invest in your business through a white-labeled crowdfunding platform. Then integrate it on your own website. You then watch the power of the crowd take hold, enjoying investment strength in numbers, and easy publicity in the process.
Enter ShareIn, a small yet perfectly-expanding fintech situated at CodeBase, Scotland’s largest tech incubator. Strolling through the retro corridors of this tech hub reveals row-upon-row of innovative and ingenious tech start-ups. ShareIn is by no means an exception.
The revolutionary idea powered by captive investors
And here’s the clever part: the company provides the platform, certified by stringent FCA regulations, and also the tech expertise and licensing. The smart aspect is the platform can be incorporated with the clients’ own website, although the ‘powered by ShareIn’ branding is a ringing endorsement for captive organisations and investors.
Chartered accountant, Jude Cook, started the business with co-founder and CTO, Andrew Pickett, in 2012, believing in the great potential for businesses to raise capital through private investors as an alternative to conventional borrowing.
Find out more on the ShareIn website
Jude is the financial force behind the business, as is Andrew, also a tech guru; both oversee the commercials and marketing of the company. They met each other at an Edinburgh University Entrepreneurship E Club event.
“Organisations were finding it difficult to raise finance, and in 2010/11 it seemed crazy not to use the internet to mobilise funding through private investor funding,” explains the enterprising mother of three. "I had the germ of the idea in 2011. Rather than pitching in person at golf clubs, it seemed at an obvious choice to use a clients’ readymade pool of investors who would genuinely believe in the business. This led to the niche idea of a crowdfunding platform that could be integrated into clients’ websites."
Perfectly-located in Edinburgh’s rich tech tapestry
The platform was launched in 2013, initially as a crowdfunding portal listing technology and health companies among Edinburgh’s rich tapestry of tech start-up businesses. ShareIn’s two success stories from a burgeoning client list include Holoxica, a 3D tech company, based in Codebase. Another is the University of Edinburgh spinout, Parkure, a firm specialising in disease treatment technology.
Jude is energetic when talking about her co-created fintech: “We have a niche business. We provide the tech and compliance, while the companies find their appropriate crowd which then backs them,” she reveals. “The beauty behind the business is that organisations can reach their crowd. And there is no typical investment amount: it can be anything from a hundred pounds right up to five-figure sums.”
ShareIn makes money through a tiny commission of the amount of funds raised on organisations’ platforms, together with a monthly licence fee and a monthly charge for regulation if required.
The right crowd to match the right investment
One customer, the ‘Hibs Crowd’, a group of Hibernian football supporters, is a very different crowd from Parkure. Both are living proof of receptive organisations, seeking alternative forms of finance, matched by an equally large appetite from investors who want to see decent returns on a diverse and interesting range of investments.
And the business has proved to be a sterling success: The forecasts of more than £3m turnover over three years are fully on target. Headcount now stands at nine, and there are plans to move from the current offices (with sweeping Edinburgh Castle views) to larger premises within Codebase, having an equally commanding position. Of the nine employees, four are females, proving that the tech firm is committed to equality and diversity, with nationalities as varied as Polish, Canadian and Spanish.
Jude adds: “Around 70% of our clients specialise in property deals – for example an entity that can find properties with a network of people who would like to invest in them. We provide them with the technology to match their needs which takes away the headache, the boring bit in the middle, so they can focus on sourcing great deals and marketing the opportunities."
ShareIn directly authorised by the FCA
By having a ‘turnkey solution’ ShareIn offers the tech brilliance, mostly notably through offering a platform which confirms to crowdfunding and FCA regulations; the company acts as Principle for customers wishing to become an appointed representative – all of which could take companies up to a year to be FCA accredited themselves.
Jude sums up: “Edinburgh serves ShareIn very well across many respects through its fintech, tech and skills infrastructure. Clients never need an excuse to visit the Scottish capital because they love it here. Being based in Scotland is a great endorsement for the country and our company as clients realise that we’re cost effective compared with a London-based fintech.
"Clients also like that we are UK-based which is really important in a regulated environment. We are open to collaborating with other partners, including academia in Scotland’s dynamic fintech industry."
Tapping into a talented workforce
The company follows the lead of many aspiring fintech firms in Scotland, especially large ones such as Morgan Stanley, Standard Life and JP Morgan, that are supplied by a reach seam of talent from Scotland’s universities. The University of Strathclyde is one of the first in the UK to offer an MSc in fintech.
Fintech at the University of Strathclyde
Further business and financial support
How did ShareIn raise startup capital? Investment to the tune of $1 million was raised from a variety of sources. ShareIn received support via the Business Gateway to help with market research. The firm further recognised that its product offering demands a niche skill set, requiring a high degree of experience to develop a product to an enterprise-grade client base.
ShareIn says that the Innovation Support award enabled it to deliver a project with a shorter timescale, which contributed significantly to costs associated with hiring an experienced external consultant.
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