2021 couldn’t have started better for the Lemonade Dolls team. They set out to raise £90K to fund their vision of disrupting the underwear industry by introducing a subscription underwear business model. Lemonade Dolls smashed their target, raising over £258K from 377 investors.
After their successful round with Seedrs, we sat down with Lemon Fuller, founder and CEO of Lemonade Dolls, to discuss her experience with crowdfunding, how to overcome challenges as a female founder and her top tips for a successful raise.
Tell us about the story of how Lemonade Dolls started? Where has your vision taken you so far?
Lemonade Dolls initially started as an online community. It was a forward thinking community that I built for myself to connect with cool, like-minded women. Before this, I lived in LA for 10 years, working in the entertainment industry. The main catalyst to create this community was that after being in this industry for so many years, I’d seen a lot of bad things, but I also noticed that I had gotten really lucky in achieving everything I did in the entertainment industry – I was getting places.
When I moved back to London, I decided to start building the Lemonade Dolls community and I used my experiences in the entertainment industry as an example of female empowerment. If I can do it, and trust me I’m not the best, so can you! That’s how it started to grow, and back in those days the trend surrounding female empowerment hadn’t fully begun yet, but it was impending (and a real issue). The community quickly became all about activism, feminism, and women that were making moves to improve their lives better and help other women sort theirs.
Once I had grown this community to considerable levels, I decided to turn it into a business. This was at the time when Victoria Secret was dominating the market at 70% and it represented everything that I stood against – that was the first ‘light bulb moment’. There was a massive gap in the market and it needed to be disrupted, because all the highstreets were following Victoria Secret. Equally, retail wasn’t doing very well, so I decided to go for a business model that could generate success. The second light bulb was subscription – an underwear subscription model was perfect for my community and that’s how Lemonade Dolls started.
Tell us about your fundraising journey before Seedrs?
We officially launched on January 21st 2019 with a first round of angel investors. The first year was quite a struggle, as the early stage investors didn’t agree with the management team, with me being CEO or with the subscription business model. For me however, that was absolutely the way forward.
So year saw a lot of mistakes, but it also marked our first round of funding and building the brand. Year two was spent relaunching the business with a second round of funding.
In total we have completed 4 rounds from angel investors, leading up to this Seedrs crowdfunding round.
Why did you choose crowdfunding and Seedrs?
We just had a killer year in 2020 in which we grew our revenues to date by 550% and we’re starting to see some really incredible momentum now because of it. The main reason why we wanted to do a crowdfunding round now, was that this would be the last opportunity to do so before taking our fundraising to an institutional level, with VCs included.
We have always wanted to do an equity crowdfunding round, because we want our community and customers to be able to invest in the business. Lemonade Dolls is a business that grew from its community and is still 100% community-based. So, giving my community the opportunity to come on board with us to properly invest in our mission was the reason why we decided to do a Seedrs round.
Talk us through what running a campaign was like?
It’s definitely a lot of work, but it’s 100% worth it. You need to clear your diary if you want to do it well. You need to reply to everyone on the forum and see it as a fulltime job, especially once you go live. We were live on the platform for 2 weeks, and during those 2 weeks I couldn’t run Lemonade Dolls as the campaign absorbed all of my time.
The fact that I have a background in entertainment made the marketing side of the campaign a bit easier. So the campaign video wasn’t too challenging for us and it felt rewarding to use that skill set.
Was it challenging for you to manage all the investor questions and interactions?
We knew it was the right time for us to do a crowdfunding round and we had our ducks in a row. Basically, the questions that we got asked on the forum, are the same questions we’re asked at every round on a daily basis. Of course it is a time consuming process, and you need to make sure that you’re on it and reply straight away, which was challenging.
What investor feedback did you receive, and how has it helped you navigate your crowdfunding campaign and growth?
There was one person on the forum who said that you shouldn’t box yourself in, but I don’t necessarily agree with that. We really know who we are, what we want to represent and the type of business we want to be. If we would’ve gone live last year, we would’ve probably listened to this feedback and hesitated more, but the progress of the last 12 months allowed us to take full control and answer questions directly without causing too much stress or apprehension.
We’re there any aspects of the crowdfunding process that you weren’t aware of that turned out to be crucial to your success?
Honestly, I didn’t realise how many people are actively browsing the Seedrs platform, looking for investment opportunities.. Whilst a lot of my own community members have invested, we now also have a lot of new, big ticket investors off the back of the Seedrs community. Seedrs introduced us to new potential investors and angels for future rounds and allowed us to tap into the funding power of our network in general, and I think that is unbelievably valuable.
Were there any specific highlights of your campaign that you didn’t expect?
We hit our target within 30 minutes of going live, overfunding by 287%, which definitely exceeded my expectations. I couldn’t believe we hit our target so quickly, so we kept moving our target and we hit it every time, again and again.
How would you describe your overall experience working with Seedrs?
It’s been a great experience and if there would be an opportunity in the future that we could work together on something I would definitely do it. I think it is a platform that allows businesses to raise money in a unique way and that gives you visibility when you’re at an early stage. It takes a lot of time to find angel investors, but a crowdfunding round just gives you a pool of investors that are all looking at you which is an asset.
What plans do you have in the pipeline for the upcoming months?
We are now fundraising again for a larger investment round. The crowdfunding round was our last angel round to bring in the community, but now our next step is to raise institutional money. We’re working on building out the flexibility of the subscription model, building awareness for the brand and driving public focus to the virtual platform the dolls have.