In September 2020, the Snoop team set out to raise a £5M convertible round to fund their vision of helping every UK household save at least £1.5K every year. Through their personalised money-saving and money-simplifying app, Snoop helps users spend, save and live smarter. Backed by existing investors – Lord Brownlow’s Havisham Group, Travelex Founder Sir Lloyd Dorfman, Salesforce Ventures, Pierre Lagrange and The Future Fund – Snoop smashed their target by more than 200%, raising over £10M from 1,712 investors..
After their successful round with Seedrs, we sat down with Ken Donald, co-founder and COO, to discuss their experience with crowdfunding and their top tips for a successful raise.
Tell us about the story of how Snoop started? Where has your vision taken you so far?
Snoop’s co-founders were part of the team working on Virgin Money’s digital bank, a project that was closed down following CYBG’s acquisition of the business in 2018. Around the same time, Open Banking regulation was introduced, aimed at giving consumers control over their data. We recognised the potential this had to transform the way people think about and manage their money.
Banks traditionally hold the record of everything we spend, lend and borrow – everything from utility bills to mortgage payments to weekly spend on travel, grocery shopping and coffee – but they don’t help consumers use that data to their advantage. At Snoop we plan to change that and help the average household save £1,500 each year.
With this in mind, our founding team left Virgin Money to establish Snoop at the start of 2019 with an ambition to make everyone better off. We had to move fast and with initial seed funding we quickly built our platform and established user momentum throughout 2019. We subsequently launched our beta platform in January 2020 to 5,000 users and launched in the open market in April 2020.
We actually brought forward our public launch in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, recognising that we were building something that could help people during a tumultuous and unpredictable time. From there, we started to scale up and reached 75,000 downloads by the time we launched our Seedrs crowdfunding round in September 2020. We’ve since passed through 150,000 downloads.
Why did you choose to crowdfund?
We knew from the beginning that crowdfunding could play an influential role in Snoop’s development. We leverage our community in the day-to-day aspect of our business. For example, as a Snoop customer you can suggest ‘Snoops’ – money-saving insights, hints tips and recommendations – to other users so we already understood the power and potential of the crowd. As such we viewed it as an opportunity to reward our earliest supporters, build a large community of Snoop evangelists and further raise our profile.
Armed with a large number of customers, an established platform, and supportive existing shareholders, we had the momentum for a successful crowdfunding campaign. And we weren’t disappointed!
Going into your crowdfunding round, what did you think would be key to your success?
We knew that if you have a large, supportive customer base that you can tap into, a well-known investor or two already, a good story and some funds already committed, you have the foundations for a successful crowdfunding round.
What was your strategy for launching your campaign? Was there anything you thought was particularly important?
Firstly, I think it’s particularly important to spend time getting your pitch perfect. At the point of a crowdfunding round your pitch becomes your business. The quality of your marketing materials is massively important. It has to be consistent with your brand values and really make your business sing. We had to work quickly but we still spent the time drafting, crafting, revising and improving our pitch materials until we were happy. (Be prepared for a few late nights!)
Secondly, we wanted to build as much buzz around our launch as possible – whoever could hear us, had to hear us. We reached out to our customer base and used social media, PR and the app itself to generate momentum. As a result, we were able to obtain great coverage in the Times, Sky and all of the more Fintech focused publications. It’s important to get your whole company behind the raise, to focus and tap into your network and engage your community, as that was key to our success. We were very fortunate to have such an engaged customer base that supported our fundraise.
What do you think surprised you the most about crowdfunding?
Definitely the level of advocacy we experienced. We received so many requests for calls in such a short amount of time, which was a challenge in and of itself. The engagement that our community had throughout the process and the number of questions that came in were unexpected; the questions ranged from our business strategy and our plans and ambitions, to where the name Snoop comes from. Ultimately, these questions were no different from what we’ve been asked in previous investment rounds, but the level of engagement is what surprised us – in a positive way.
What are your top 3 tips for a successful round?
- Leverage your audience, network and contacts as much as possible to drive that all-important buzz at the beginning of the process.
- Maximise the opportunity of the pre-registration stage. Pre-registration is an excellent opportunity to capture people’s interest and build excitement, and that is the thing that can really drive your campaign when it launches and provides more control. I would advise everyone to keep their pre-reg campaign open for as long as possible. Unfortunately, we were on a tight Future Fund deadline, so we could only open our pre-registration for 10 days.
- Keep building momentum. It’s not a “launch, hit your target early and you’re done”, kind of process. No, there’s an opportunity to keep building on your impetus and grow your business further. Staying on top of updates and continually finding other ways to engage your audience is key.
What does life after crowdfunding look like? How has your community become engaged and helped you?
The pace of the business is relentless and exciting and we’re bringing new money-saving features to the app all the time. Growth, engagement, and revenue are all on the right trajectory and it’s brilliant to have over 1,700 new investors that really believe in what we’re trying to achieve. Feedback from customers and investors is the lifeblood of the business and creates a virtuous circle of improvement and success.
Is there anything you would do differently?
We had a great crowdfund, but everything can be improved, right? At a technical level I would recommend maximising your time in the pre-registration process to build strong momentum before your campaign kicks off proper. More broadly, what I’d say to others is put everything into it and a bit more – it’s a big opportunity and an excellent shop window for your business.
To find out more about Snoop, visit their business page.