Hubbub takes arms against a sea of troubles with a little help from GrantTree

granttree power up potionWarren Buffett once said, “it’s only when the tide goes out that you can see who’s swimming naked.” If that’s the case, start-up land may as well be a nudist colony. When you are bootstrapping, money tends to be in pretty short supply.
Many a Company has sunk without trace because it has not been able to meet its financial obligations in the early stages of its development, and many a promising idea has never seen the light of day because it has not been able to monetise to schedule.
But very often it’s not the start-up at fault. Investors may have promised them funding which they have subsequently failed to provide on time, tax claims delayed by too much red tape, or creditors defaulted, and the companies have become overstretched, unable to cope with the twin requirements of scaling quickly, whilst at the same time generating enough sales in the short term. Short termism is rarely a businessman’s friend.
hubbub purpleTake Hubbub, for example: the start-up builds a licensed, branded Crowdfunding platform which it supplies on a franchise basis to educational institutions including the University of York and Oxford Brookes University. It took the company 2 years and £350k of VC funding to develop its software, and when the product was officially rolled out in early 2014, the company had no trouble meeting its sales targets, having brought on board key clients during their development phase.
But as so often when you are building a new business from scratch, there was a hitch. Clients, especially in the education sector, had extremely long payment cycles. Just when Hubbub needed the funds they had already completed the work for to fund expansion, they were unavailable. Big problem.
Fortunately for Hubbub, they knew Pow and Dan, founders of GrantTree, from back when they first started out. It turned out they were neighbours, their offices are only 50 metres apart in Shoreditch.
Successful Entrepreneurs in their own right, Paulina and Daniel were the perfect people to turn to; they had founded GrantTree because they were sick of watching good companies struggle due to avoidable funding issues.
GrantTree was initially set up to help fellow start-ups win back Research and Development Tax credits, sometimes as much as 32% of their original development costs. So far they’ve helped recoup over £11 million in R&D tax credits for their clients, and now they have a staff of 15 processing numerous claims and grants and helping to scale the operation.
Brainstorming on the bus one day, Daniel and Paulina were trying to come up with ever more creative ways of making sure start-ups weren’t caught short on the fiscal front. Daniel explains: “we were just thinking out loud, trying to come up with as many ideas as possible, and one of the ideas was “what if we paid the tax credits upfront, skipping the whole HMRC delay part?” For some reason, this time, we looked at each other and thought “wait a minute… actually that might be doable!”
They decided to call it the “Power-up Fund”, because it reminded Paulina of a computer game she used to play at primary school, Prince of Persia. “There were these little triangular flasks with little bubbles coming out of them you had to drink to gain extra lives”. Bless you, Paulina!
A sweet analogy, but a true one, because that was exactly what Hubbub needed. A quick financial fix; a short term bridging loan to tide them over while they waited for the funds they knew were on the way. There would have been no point asking a bank, or even a peer to peer lender; unless you really understand the mechanics of how a start-up works, the situation would have appeared too risky.
Daniel confirms this was the case on his side too, “we spoke to a bunch of finance people and accountants, they all thought it sounded terribly risky and advised us against it! But since we have an in-depth knowledge of the R&D tax credit scheme and are able to evaluate a start-up’s case quickly, we decided to trial it anyway, and so far, it’s working very well.”
Daniel and Paulina remembered Hubbub, they looked at their sales patterns and saw that what Hubbub were saying was absolutely correct. They arranged the bridging loan, at short notice, charging a very reasonable 8%. Hubbub has never looked back, recently launching their own Crowdcube page to pay for further growth and expansion, raising over £330k to date. Hubbub co-founder Jonathan May explains: “GrantTree are vergranttreey open, they pick up the phone to you and most of all they understand how start-ups function. If the Power-up Fund had been available when he did our tax credits we may well have dipped our toes in the water earlier on”.
GrantTree are also moving from strength to strength. They have worked with many successful start-ups including Stack Exchange, and GoCardless, and both Daniel and Paulina have invested privately in two of GrantTree’s client companies after getting to know the founders closely; Daniel in, and Paulina in Hubbub.
The Company are looking to make hires within their “first impressions” team. “A good hire in this role would be the kind of person who loves to figure out ways to help others in the start-up world by doing pretty much whatever it takes, and who’s happy to spend all day talking to new people”, suggests Daniel. They hope to add an Events and Community Manager also, “someone to help get the word out about GrantTree and the things we’re up to, who ideally is already well connected in the tech scene, and who will be happy and excited to get to know everyone in the start-up events scene and help GrantTree be in the middle of it.”
That’s the beauty of the start-up community, they look after their own. Honest hard working entrepreneurs stick together, and good projects don’t die because of short term, resolvable issues like a kink in the funding pipeline. If you play your cards right there is always somebody to turn to. Sometimes reaching out to the right people can help take you to the next level.

Launchpad Labs mentor Leonardo Zangrando discusses “pretotyping”, and how an incubator can also be a social enterprise

launchpad labsLaunchPad labs is an incubator with a difference. First of all, it’s a registered charity, a not for profit social enterprise. But it also has a lot in common with some of the best incubators; it has great mentors, has attracted some top talent, and it’s pushing the envelope when it comes to developing the techniques and expertise required to produce healthy, happy and successful start-up companies with long term sustainability.

We’re All Marketers Now: The Growing Power Of Social Media And Search Marketing

Matt Wheeler of Driftrock

Matt Wheeler of Driftrock

Digital marketing is a science. We should all have realised by now that in the world of online, nothing happens by chance. Every GIF, Vine, video or comment that we see is most likely the result of somebody somewhere’s social media marketing strategy.

Bamboo Auctions founder Robin Rathore eats, shoots from the hip and leaves

bamboo auctionsRobin Rathore is a man you can shoot the breeze with. When I arrive at Hoxton Hotel after a feisty luncheon at Bone Daddies in Mayfair, he is sat in what suddenly looks like the most comfortable chair in the room. I am almost surprised not to see a member of staff lighting his cigar for him and passing him his slippers. Robin is at home in his surroundings.

Start-up Storm goes Omnichannel

by Julian Jackson

fintech2Internet impresario Arifa Khan is a fan of GAAP. No, not the American clothing company. GAAP. She defines it as Google, Amazon, Apple, and PayPal, “The Behemoths that rule the internet.” She says they dominate our online lives and are more trusted than other brands. This was how she introduced the latest FinTech Start-up Storm Meetup event – which brings together financial startups and investors in the informal surroundings of Google Campus near Old Street in the heart of London’s tech city.

Jeanne Le Roux talks about why start-ups need a properly defined HR strategy

Jeanne portrait dec 2013

Jeanne Le Roux founder of JLR People Solutions

Jeanne Le Roux holds a Master’s degree in finance, insurance and banking, but it’s fair to say that for her, the reality of working life in the many of the places she has studied often failed to match up to the theories about what makes a productive HR environment.

The Secret Lives Of Entrepreneurs: Pushing The Boundaries Of The Work Life Balance

By Thursday, August 7, 2014 0 No tags Permalink 0
image courtesy of

image courtesy of

If money never sleeps, then those of us who spend our days chasing the filthy lucre should not expect the work life balance to redress itself any time soon, and the curse of it is, the more successful you are, the less downtime you have.

Some of us, however, are blessed with unusually plentiful reserves of energy, and more often than not these are the kind of people who find themselves climbing towards the top of both the social and work ladders.

London’s Largest Tech Hub: Here East To Create 7,500 Jobs At Olympic Park

here eastThe former press and media centre at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is the sprawling heart of London’s Olympic legacy; over 1,200,000 sq. ft. of versatile space contained within 3 vast warehouse style buildings: the 850,000 sq. ft. Broadcast Centre, 300,000 sq. ft. former press centre, and a 750 seat auditorium. The site also features communal outdoor areas, and a huge terrace running alongside the press centre, overlooking a landscaped canal.

From India to London: SFC is bringing top Indian entrepreneurial talent to the Capital

RipulMeet Ripul Agarwal, founder of S(u)ave. According to Ripul, Suave stands for “charming, confident and elegant”. As founder, Ripul tries to embody all of these qualities, but he has others too. He’s well-travelled, intelligent, dedicated, and, although it took him a while to realise it, every inch an entrepreneur.

Ripul was born in Agra, the City most famous for being home to the Taj Mahal, and growing up, he rarely thought about England, other than a passing admiration for the country’s cricket team.

However, with the help of Stephen Page’s Startup Funding Club, Ripul has been able to secure the entrepreneurs VISA that he needs to continue to grow his business in a country that provides unparalleled incentives for investors to fund start-ups.

Flagon’s Den meet-up: drink beer, pitch freer!

By Wednesday, July 30, 2014 1 No tags Permalink 0

flagons denThis was the meet-up that almost took place at Number 10 Downing Street. Now it has moved to Google Campus, and anyone is free to pitch. The results? Impressive; a queue of “wantrepreneurs” organised and chatty, an engaged and questioning audience with plenty of whoops and hollers. So, Better than Downing Street, and with more free beer (probably, although Dave Cameron looks like he knows his way round a pint), provided by sponsors Vedett, and Vita Coco for the abstainers.

Below are my amateurish attempts to cover each and every pitch, think live blogging on a 24 hour delay. I hope it proves useful and if nothing else it shows just how many great business ideas are being incubated under the auspices of Google Campus, Tech City, and characters like Daniel Korski, special advisor to the PM. Feel free to weigh in with your objections, corrections and opinions.

Bitcoin Is Shaking Off Its Bad Reputation, But What’s In It For The Entrepreneur?

BitcoinThe true entrepreneur will always keep their ear to the ground, hoping to spot and exploit the latest trends, be they social, financial, economic or occasionally all three wrapped into one. Bitcoin is one such phenomenon, with its quasi mythical origins, ground breaking software, and fairly obvious potential, however to date early adopters outside of the murky world of sites such as Silk Road, the now defunct online drug store (watch out for Silk Road 2, origins unknown), have been few and far between.

Bitcoin’s somewhat seedy reputation has been cemented by the seizure of Silk Road, the bankruptcy of the Mt. Gox exchange, which at one point was handling 70% of all Bitcoin transactions, the extreme volatility of the online currency, and concerns regarding safety and online theft.