In November 2020, braincare brand Heights successfully launched and funded a £1.7 million crowdfunding round on Seedrs, with the support of over 679 investors. The round was backed by Forward Partners alongside a host of industry titans including Tom Singh (founder of New Look), Damian Bradfield (WeTransfer), Dhiraj Mukherjee (Shazam) and Renee Elliot (Planet Organic). Celebrity investor Chris Smalling, England and Manchester United professional footballer, also joined the ticket, making Heights one of 2020’s big-hitting campaigns.
We sat down with Heights co-founder Dan Murray-Serter to discuss what the crowdfunding experience was like, and what we can expect from the brand in the future.
How did Heights first start, and where has the vision for better braincare taken you so far?
I suffered from anxiety and insomnia for several months – I tried medication and saw sleep therapists but nothing seemed to work. Eventually I saw a dietician who prescribed me supplements which, to my surprise, were very effective. There’s an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence suggesting that nutrition has a strong effect on mental health. My co-founder Joel, was very interested in the power of nutrition for gut health, so both of our experiences led us to develop a newsletter on what science says you can do to take better care of your brain. 125 newsletters later, we got together with neuro-scientist Tara Swart who has a PhD in neuro-pharmacology, to formulate our Smart Supplement, and bring it to market.
We really pioneered the idea of braincare. Our vision has always been to create a best-in-class, all-in-one supplement, that’s designed specifically for your brain cells, to encourage people to take better care of their brain, and reach their heights.
What was your fundraising journey prior to crowdfunding on Seedrs?
We raised a pre-seed convertible of £250,000 in December of 2019, which served to fuel our launch in January 2020. After that, we started raising the best part of £900,000 from angel investors leading up to our campaign on Seedrs, when we decided to raise the rest from the crowd.
Did you consider other fundraising options, why did you choose crowdfunding?
Philosophically, we’re a community-led business and so the concept of crowdfunding always fit into our ethos as a company. We really believe in the idea of having a tribe, and are focused on the benefits and value to the business of having an engaged community. We want to be able to help more people look after their brains, and the idea that they can be shareholders in the company from the early stages.
Why did you choose Seedrs as a partner for the raise?
Seedrs has a strong focus on sustainability, and that really came through in the proposed strategy for our raise. We’re in the process of applying for our B Corp certification, and sustainability is one of our core values as a business, so that common ground was a big draw for us.
What was one of the biggest highlights of the campaign?
We were the fastest health and wellness brand to raise over £1 million (we did it in 20 minutes) which is a huge accomplishment in itself. We didn’t expect that to happen so quickly, which was exciting for the team. From start to finish, it took five days to run the entire campaign which was beyond our expectations. Bringing pro footballer Chris Smalling on board was a great moment as well, he’s been very supportive so far.
In terms of the campaign launch process, I actually really enjoyed building out our pitch deck, and getting our crowdfunding video together with my business partner Joel. When you do a funding round, it’s a brilliant exercise to investigate what you’re trying to do as a business and how you can communicate that to the outside world. There was a lot of camaraderie involved in the process, which brought us closer together as a team and really unified our vision.
How would you describe your overall experience working with Seedrs?
It was great overall. As with with any work you do with a partner, there’s a lot to do, and issues to iron out along the way, but we came to realise very quickly just how much the Seedrs team does. It’s not just a platform where you sort yourself out, raise some money and leave. We were so impressed with the work Seedrs did in the way of marketing, raise strategy and so on, as well as everything that’s done after the round has closed. The team were excellent communicators and I greatly enjoyed working with them. I’d be very confident recommending Seedrs to everyone.
What have the proceeds from the round helped you accomplish, or plan for in the future?
We’re undergoing a lot of product development at the moment. We’ve actually won a government grant to innovate on new supply chain packaging as a creative blueprint for other direct-to-consumer brands, which is exciting. There’s a lot we have in the pipeline, we’re making money and growing at the rate we expected to, and we’re well prepared to bring out new products later in the year.
How has investor engagement served to grow your brand?
We’ve committed to providing incredibly detailed quarterly updates, to keep our investors in the loop as to what’s happening with the business. Our goal is to create the best investor community we possibly can from this experience, and to do that, we’re dedicated to building a relationship of trust and transparency with those who have supported us thus far.
The best possible thing our investors can do to continue to support is, is to buy our product and refer others to do the same. We’re seeing growth in this area and are looking forward to further improvements going forward.
What’s the long-term vision for your community?
We want to build the #1 braincare brand in the world. That’s a broad vision, but it’s broad on purpose. We see a huge gap in the market, between how much scientific data exists supporting the concept of braincare, and how many people aren’t currently making the most of that knowledge to improve their cognitive ability. Ultimately, our goal is to help tens of millions of people at the very least, to take care of their brains and create better habits and live happier, healthier lives.