Crowd Funding? It’s something I’d heard of, but didn’t really know anything about and apparently it’s big news, so it was great to receive an invitation to attend the ‘World’s first’ crowd funding seminar at The Crystal in London, hosted by Will Broome and the team at Crowd Finders Ltd!

Crowd Funding London held last Thursday, 23rd April, was the launch event of Crowd Finders, a new venture by founders Will, Luke and Alex, who Will described as the ZZTop of crowd funding. Their events aim to bring together every aspect of crowd funding in real time.

For anyone who doesn’t know what crowd funding is then to give you a quick definition, it’s the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the internet.

One of the famous campaigns receiving a lot of media attention at the moment is the appeal by independent brewery BrewDog who are aiming to raise a world record £25m through crowd funding.

IMG_3424Back to the event then, the keynotes were held in the main auditorium at The Crystal, a fantastic space within what looked like a big red bubble right in the centre of the venue! There were some fantastic keynote sessions and a few little interesting surprises throughout the day.

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Luke Lang, Founder and CEO of Crowdcube probably the most well known of the crowd funding platforms started with some pretty impressive stats; £80 million has been raised to date since starting, 230 businesses have been funded and they have an investor community of 160,000.

Luke went on to explain that 50% of deals this year will be done by crowd funding platforms and the UK government are set to invest up to £5 million through Crowdcube.  He gave a few examples of successes including those of a few famous faces; Kevin McCloud raised £2 million on the platform for his property business and Hugh Fernley Whittingstall, one of the first, raised £1 million.

Luke’s presentation was followed by an brilliant live set of beat boxing and body popping from ThePETEBOX and ProDance Agency. Not what you would expect at a crowd funding seminar but I highly recommend you take a look if you’re looking for a wow factor at your next event because they were quick frankly brilliant!

IMG_3448 (1)Mark Sharratt of Dale Carnegie in his presentation on how to win friends and influence people asked us to consider how many times we think about ourselves and what we do, without thinking about the other person suggesting that we should try honestly to see things from the others persons perspective/point of view.

He talked about how we can build credibility and with a quick exercise with the audience identified that in successful individuals it’s attitude that differentiates them.

There was a spot of lunchtime entertainment from Tenors Un Limited and Billy Wingrowe & Jeremy Lynch from London Live fame. Again I highly recommend you take a look for your next event, more brilliant performances!

IMG_3482 (1)In the afternoon there were presentations from Nicola Horlick from Money & Co and Thomas Davies of Seedr, it was interesting to hear that in relation to SMEs, then the British ‘M’ has an annual turnover of £1.9 trillion and employs 9.2 million people. SMEs are also doing particularly well in the UK due to alternative methods of raising funds such as crowd funding. There was also a panel session on the future threats hosted by Kiki Loizou of the Sunday Times that was 80% female (85% if you count Kiki)!

IMG_3498The ultimate highlight of the day for me was the Keynote by Michelle Mone OBE and Founder of Ultimo, which I can honestly say was one of the most inspiring and laugh out loud talks I have ever seen or heard.

Michelle, who by the way donated her fee for appearing to Breast Cancer, kicked off her talk by explaining that no matter what the event, before she goes on stage she is always sick and gave a few examples of such including throwing up on Mikhail Gorbachev’s shoes!

She went on to describe her experience of being the biggest Avon rep in Scotland at the age of 12 and that it doesn’t matter where you’re from, if you have drive and determination you can achieve anything.

IMG_3503 (1)“You shouldn’t wait for people to approach you, go out there and find others, be proactive and if you don’t have money to promote your business then put yourself out there, do your first interview and then confidence will grow.”

Michelle also explained that when things go wrong don’t give up, you should hold on as tightly as you possibly can as there’s always 10% left within us to carry on and, we should ban the word can’t – if you put your mind to it you’ll find a way of doing it.

IMG_3509She said there were 3 main things in life; work the hardest you can work, play the hardest you can play and always give something back!

Feeling completely inspired I plucked up the courage to ask a question and wanted to know “If there were 3 things you could advise to someone just starting out in business, like me, what would they be?”

Her answer:

1. Cash is King!

2. Always make sure that in regards to the people and partners you choose to work with that you get on, do fun things together and find out as much as you can about each other.

3. Know your competitors, get to know them even better than they know themselves.

4. Be innovative!

5. Be creative!

So there we have it 5 things, in true entrepreneurial style I took a risk, asked for 3 and came away with 2 extra!

I can’t wait to read her book!

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A great event, I’ve come away educated in the principles and benefits of crowd funding and really motivated for my business journey and as befits a Diary of an #Eventprof post I’m going to leave you with some thoughts from the day:

“Have a great business and a great idea that’s going to capture the imagination of the crowd!” – Luke Lang, Crowdcube

“The less money you have the more creative you’ll become” – Michelle Mone OBE

“Success drives success” – Luke Lang, Crowdcube

“Think big in life, if you think big, big things will happen” – Michelle Mone OBE

“Carpe Diem – seize the day” – Mark Sharratt, Dale Carnegie

Until next time #Eventprofs…