BehindTheRaise with Paperclip

Rich Wooley is the CEO and founder of Paperclip, a challenger marketplace taking on eBay. Rich shares lessons from his fundraising in #BehindTheRaise: What’s the biggest thing he thinks investors look for? What would he do differently if he did it all again? And well, does AIN really work?

Tell us about what got you into start ups:

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset – my first business was at school selling Big Red chewing gum that I imported from the US, it certainly made me more money than my paper round!

At university, my housemate, Alan, (later, co-founder) and I made good money importing clothes from the US and selling them on eBay, and we saw an opportunity there for a challenger marketplace to take on eBay’s monopoly. We shelved the idea at the time, and both went into our respective management consulting careers – but eventually I thought that if I didn’t do something entrepreneurial soon, I might never, so I took a career break and started attending startup events in London like AngelHack and London Startup Weekend. I pitched Paperclip, we came second place, and we got to work.

Why did you decide to raise investment?

Being a marketplace, we realized that we’d need to go for a few years without any discernible revenue, and so we sought investment to fund the runway. Not only this, but we wanted to get a strong network of investors onboard that could add value on the journey – introductions for commercial partnerships and to other investors, and so on.

Marketplaces are always tricky, and it can take a while until the critical mass of buyers and sellers and unit economics start to take shape. However, when they do get it right, they have the power to influence people’s everyday lives – which is something that excites me a lot. Platforms like Amazon, JustEat, Uber, Deliveroo, and Depop are a testament to that – they provide value to millions of people, and have made massive returns for their investors, but they were cash hungry at the start and required significant investment to get to that scale – we are no different in that regard.

What is your top tip for anyone raising investment for the first time?

It’s always tricky at the start.  Your personal network can help a lot at that time – my first investors were a friend from university, a family friend, and my old boss! But other than that, seek investors that add value in the right areas -speak with founders that have exited similar or complementary types of businesses.

Any government support such as grants can help a lot to get momentum going, and speaking to pre-seed funds that can match fund will help things significantly: if you have an offer on the table for match-funding (e.g if you raise £100k then the fund will match that with £100k), then it helps things along significantly.

I’d suggest not being too inflexible on your valuation, but be wary of adapting your investment terms to something you’re not comfortable with, such as giving away too much control or appointing directors that don’t share your vision, or that might become an issue later down the line. The right kind of investors can make your journey far smoother, the wrong type can make it hell.

What attracted investors to your company?

I think investors like the concept of what we’re trying to solve and the novel way that we are approaching it – it helps that the secondhand goods market is massive and also set to expand 500% over the next 5 years – and so the potential is huge. However, at the start, investors are mostly investing in the actual team – and having a strong team really helped with that.

We were fortunate enough to get some high profile investors onboard at seed stage, such as  David Buttress,  co-founder and former CEO of JustEat and Hayley Parsons, the founder and former CEO of GoCompare. Most people in the UK would have either seen or used their platforms, and so it added some credibility to our cause.

Rich Wooley, CEO, Paperclip


My biggest fundraising mistake was…

Probably the biggest fundraising mistake I made was not pushing back on some of the investment agreement terms in our first VC raise. There are a bunch of reporting, corporate governance and approval processes that I have to go through. For example, I need to gain approval for spending over £5,000 on something, or hiring someone with a salary of over £35,000. 

These terms ultimately do benefit and protect our shareholders, so they’re not all bad – but for the stage we’re at, they can be slightly onerous; they  can slow things down at times or take me valuable time to report.

Why did you choose to use Angel Investment Network?

Over the years, I had heard of Angel Investment Network, but I never wanted to pay for it!  Then one day at the Natwest Accelerator, two of the founders I was mentoring came over and told me they’d raised over £250k each on the platform, and so I signed up right away.

I’ve also tried other platforms, both UK and US focused, and have never had the same level of success on them. It’s clear to me that Angel Investment Network has the largest and most active pool of angel investors in the UK – perhaps in the world; I’ve met some incredible people and received investment from all over the world; Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Africa – the list goes on.

What has the funding enabled?

Investment has made a huge difference to the talent we have brought onboard, and the build phase that we’re in. Some of our investors have made valuable introductions, and so it has had a massive impact on our business. Going forwards, I can see that the investor base that we have will be able to provide us even more value as we grow.

Keen to hear more?

If you would like to see what other companies are up to on Angel Investment Network, or are interested in raising funding yourself, you can find your local network here.

Four benefits of backing more diverse startup founders

The worldwide startup ecosystem is well established and growing strongly in many different territories. The success of Angel Investment Network in creating more connections between founders and investors globally is testament to that. However, while investment in startups has rebounded strongly after the worst of the pandemic, we can also follow this with an increase in funding for diverse startup founders. Why does this matter? Well, it’s not just about having better representation for the sake of it, important though this is, it actually also makes better sense commercially.

In the UK while just 5% of founding teams have two female founders, research has also shown that only 1% of venture-funded startups have black founders. It’s a similar picture in the USA, where according to Crunchbase, black startup entrepreneurs still received only a tiny fraction — 1.2 percent — of the $147 billion in venture capital invested in U.S. startups through the first half of the year.  To disrupt this, here are four reasons why we need to boost investment into more diverse founders.

  1. It can lead to new business opportunities
    Many diverse business startups can offer products targeting diverse consumers uncatered for currently in the market. However, if the investors themselves are not more diverse, they may not have the same understanding of the market to know where the opportunities are. This is a challenge many female founders also face. For example, we can purchase most groceries online except ethnic food – which you still have to visit your local market, small grocer or if you’re lucky, there will be a small selection in the supermarket however, it’s unlikely you can order online. As this is a minority need many would struggle to get backing from a British bank however, Mariam Jimoh founded Oja, developed an app that delivers ethnic produce from local groceries to customers’ doorsteps. After much hard work, she was successful in finding funding. As one of only a handful of success stories here, we know there are many other missed opportunities to serve a potential market of many millions.
  1.  New markets can develop and thrive
    New markets thrive on having dynamic businesses and competition. However if certain businesses are unable to grow, their products or services remain in need and the circulation of money in the economy then shrinks. We can create opportunities to serve different markets, have more alternative viewpoints in the business decision and drive forward education and revenue based around new business variations which cater for wider groups. Let’s also remember these are emerging and growing markets too, so there are fantastic opportunities for investors with the right foresight.    
  1. More diverse teams do better
    Just as in nature, having diversity is key to the health of ecosystems, the same applies to diverse teams in startups and wider existing businesses. Research has shown that companies with diverse management teams are more innovative and have 19% higher revenue. In many of the fastest growing sectors such as tech, this growth is key to success. So diversity is not just about a tick box activity, it’s about the make up of high performing teams, who are going to positively impact the bottom line. The reverse is also true. The more we can represent the whole of the country and their different needs, the better solutions we can develop and ensure new markets can flourish
  1. Backing more diverse founders across the globe can help tackle some of our greatest challenges
    Of course while it is important to look at backing more diverse founders at home, we also need to look at more diversity in funding globally. So much capital is concentrated on a few established, wealthy hubs. However, having more underrepresented founders across the globe we can also potentially have new insights and ideas for tackling many of mankind’s most pressing problems. People on the ground in countries most impacted by climate change may well have some more untapped and innovative solutions, but often they need the contacts and capital to turn their idea into reality. By looking at ways we can boost nascent startup ecosystems in developing countries, we will be in a better place to address many of the problems threatening the planet with sustainability based solutions which could become hugely profitable.

So where to start? The first thing we need to do is look at how we can support micro-enterprises. They are on the very first rung of the startup ladder and the more of these we can support, the more chance of startups on a pathway to Series A and even Unicorn status can emerge. This is why Ace Entrepreneurs has created our first micro funding program for the diverse community. While we have seen a huge democratisation of startup funding in the past few years, we now need to complete the journey and make sure a truly diverse startup ecosystem can flourish.

By Nadine Campbell, entrepreneur and founder of Ace Entrepreneurs. The ACE Entrepreneurs Investment Program has been launched to tackle a funding gap for black-owned businesses. 

#StartUpBuzz

Here’s our pick of companies raising investment on Angel Investment Network at the moment. 

From launching podcasts, to helping you select the most appropriate emobility solution, or a modular sofa that will actually fit through the front door, these are the startups that are solving meaningful problems with capable teams, and a clear route to market. 

Auddy 

Whilst starting a podcast may seem deceptively easy, actually launching it successfully, building a user base, maintaining growth and monetising it, are a lot easier said than done. That’s where Auddy comes into help. 

Auddy is one of the UK’s leading podcast publishers. Using cutting-edge data and analytics, they make the business of podcasts hassle-free. They work with top creators to produce and market premium shows before distributing them to all major platforms. They then provide advertising and sponsorship sales, paying properly meaningful royalties back to the creators.

Controlling the end-to-end process means they can also produce private shows for corporate’s internal employees or leading branded content for a company’s content strategy. These are high margin jobs and provide a diversified revenue stream beyond pure consumer publishing.

Key Facts

Founder has numerous IPOs and exits, including for Virgin

B2B clients including Vodafone and Open University 

Acquired leading UK branded podcast publisher – Radio Wolfgang

‘Auddy has an incredible team behind it, driving a sophisticated business model in what is a rapidly expanding market space. We were hooked from the off and we think it’s an exciting opportunity for the network!’ – Sam Louis 

Find out more about Auddy here.

Electric Rider


In big cities, suddenly electric mobility solutions are appearing everywhere. Electric Rider is an online marketplace selling emobility solutions from ebikes to escooters, even electric unicycles. 

The trend for the electric revolution appears to be getting strong momentum, buoyed in part by London and other major cities introducing low emission zones.

Electric Rider makes it easy to find the most appropriate electric mobility solution for the user – with a ‘help me choose’ solution finder, as well as flexible payment options. 

Key Facts

The emobility market is forecast to grow at 20% year on year

Electric Rider achieved £1million gross revenue with 30% margin in first 18 months

Over 55 brands in stock and growing

‘Impossible to ignore what they have achieved in such a short space of time. Along with the current move towards electric transportation in cities it was a company that I really wanted to help raise.’ – Xavier Ballester

Find out more about Electric Rider here.

Cozmo

Ever ordered a sofa with a long lead time only to find it didn’t fit through the door? Or pulled a muscle in your back trying to lug a sofa up the stairs? Cozmo is a new type of sofa company, reinventing what sofa purchasing should look like – modular and delivered in a box. It’s also a sustainable solution, allowing easy changes to both configuration and also its design with changeable top covers.  

Key Facts

The emobility market is forecast to grow at 20% year on year

Electric Rider achieved £1million gross revenue with 30% margin in first 18 months

Over 55 brands in stock and growing

Find out more about Cozmo here.

Keen to hear more?

If you would like to see what other companies are up to on Angel Investment Network, or are interested in raising funding yourself, you can find your local network here.

#BehindTheRaise with Wedo

Wedo is a Neo-Bank set up for the freelance community by 5 times founder Indiana Gregg (Indy); in our latest #BehindTheRaise Indy shares her top tips for fundraising success:

Tell us about Wedo and how you came up with the idea

Wedo is the place to start or grow your online business: create live video and audio alleys, share content, take payments and send and receive money completely hassle-free.

I’m a 5x tech founder and have also run a digital media company where a lot of our gigs came from freelance sites. I had an exit five years ago and focused on learning everything there is to know about the freelance communities that were shooting up and getting tons of traction; so, I became a freelancer myself. It quickly occured to me that this rapidly growing piece of the global workforce would soon be in trouble. Freelancers pay to play. It’s not very cool. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a more fair way to serve them with an ecosystem where they weren’t having as much as 20% of their earnings paid as commission fees. Wedo was the answer.

I started building a prototype at the beginning of COVID and by June, 2020, we had a team. The team bootstrapped for the first eight months and then I came onto the AIN to look for pre-seed investors at that point. We raised £515,000 on a £5M pre-money valuation early this year (2021) This allowed us to get regulatory coverage in the USA, UK and Europe to operate as a bank challenger and we built the SaaS technology MVP and began to private test users this spring. 

We are a community with tools that help create the network freelancers need to connect with clients – They can onboard new clients and connect with existing ones by creating their own Alleys (these are video and audio conference rooms where they can discuss with clients, share files, take instant payments, send and receive invoices and bank seamlessly). 

With Wedo, you can set up a payment link to your conference, consultation or subscription. The deposit goes directly into your Wedo account. You decide whether to use it to pay for something or to transfer it to another account.

Indiana Gregg, CEO, Wedo

Why did you decide to raise investment?

We raised investment in order to build the technology and acquire the partnerships and some of the tech rails we needed. We were also at a point where we needed to hire more people to fill skill sets we were short on. We are currently raising our Seed round again here on the AIN and it’s been epic! We’ve met a lot of amazing investors. We aim to close the round by the end of October. 

What is your top tip for anyone raising investment for the first time?

Don’t raise money until you have thought through your business model and can communicate what you are building/creating or selling very succinctly. If investors don’t understand what you are aiming to achieve, it means you aren’t communicating the problem you solve properly yet.

Practice with people in your surroundings to see how you can improve your pitch and ask experts their opinion of your model, you projections and your deck to refine and develop it so that when it’s time to present your plan to investors, you are confident and they are confident that you will be persistent and hit a home run for the company. Investors are on your side. They want you to succeed and if they say no, ask for feedback. Sometimes it’s just not a match; however, oftentimes their advice and feedback can be invaluable. 

What attracted investors to your company? 

Our team is brilliant, the timing is right for the market opportunity,and our technology and business model is a first. 

My biggest fundraising mistake was…

Oh boy. I  probably have a lot of these. Raising investment is a learning curve over many years. However, probably introducing an idea too early before it has been baked and refined can be a time waster. Ideas are just ideas. When you begin to execute your idea, it becomes more real and you have an entire research and discovery period to go through prior to asking other people to invest in it. You also have to be fully invested yourself. If you aren’t and it’s too early, don’t go out to raise. Make sure you can validate your idea during each step of the fundraising rounds and you have KPIs and targets that you will hit with the capital that you raise. 

Why did you choose to use Angel Investment Network?

I chose angel investment network because I’ve had great experience finding investors for my companies and other companies I’ve consulted in the past here on the AIN.

It’s a really big network and I love that you can search and really pinpoint investors who are most likely to be interested in the company you are building. There is an enormous spectrum of investors globally with varying interests and it’s a great way to connect. 

Our number 1 focus for Wedo for the year ahead is:

Our number one focus will be penetrating the market heavily, we’re going after small businesses and freelancers who open accounts and use our services. We’ll continue refining our tech into full product/market fit, and customer retention. Wash, rinse and repeat! If you’re reading this now, please join us!

Keen to hear more?

If you would like to see what other companies are up to on Angel Investment Network, or are interested in raising funding yourself, you can find your local network here.