In May 2022, the Strabo team set out to raise a £175,000 target round to further develop their product and get it in the hands of more users. Strabo is a platform that allows its users to access secure money management, and financial services around the globe; it’s advanced wealth analytics at your fingertips. Strabo ended up raising £236,647 from 285 investors on Seedrs.

We sat down with Michael John Magdongon, CEO & Co-Founder of Strabo to discuss how crowdfunding supported their 2nd product launch. Michael also shares his “rules of engagement”; some useful tips and tricks on how to successfully engage with your investor audience on the platform.

Tell us about how Strabo started? Where has your vision taken you so far? 

The idea for Strabo came about in late 2019, when I was sitting at a cafe in Shoreditch, managing my monthly finances. I usually go through the same repetitive motion each time (review of income, expenses, budget, goals, etc), but then I asked, “where is ALL of my money, what does it mean, and how can I better plan for the long term?”

As an expat, I still hold accounts in multiple countries and I found it hard to track everything in one place. So I opened up all my accounts, recorded them on a spreadsheet, and after 2hrs or so, was able to get maybe 60% of the answers I was looking for. So I looked for a solution that could track all my accounts across multiple countries and give actionable insights to help me better manage my finances. But I couldn’t find any. That’s why I started Strabo – it’s a platform where I could track everything in one place, understand what it all means, and do something about it.

While we are still early, we have been able to launch our product to a closed beta group of users and raise capital from VC’s, angels, and Seedrs investors. In addition, we’ve launched our 2nd version of the product in September 2022 to a waitlist of 2,000 people. 

Tell us about your fundraising journey before Seedrs? 

Raising capital is difficult, especially in the early stages. We bootstrapped and managed to raise a small family/friends round in the first year. Once we launched our product, we received early commitments from a UK VC and an angel investor for our pre-seed round.

When you came to Seedrs, why did you decide it was the right time to raise a round? 

After gaining early validation from our beta launch in Q4 2021, we felt that it was the right time to raise additional capital to further product development and to get it in the hands of more users. We planned for a public launch around Q2/Q3 2022 so it was the right time for us to raise capital.

At the time of your Seedrs round, what other fundraising options did you consider, and why did you choose crowdfunding? What were your goals from crowdfunding?

We initially considered continuing with the “traditional” routes of startup fundraising: reaching out to more VC’s and angels. However, considering the type of company we are and our immediate goals, we felt that crowdfunding would be our best option. Seedrs historically has done very well in helping B2C product-led companies, and we hoped to follow suit. 

And, since we were looking to raise capital and increase our waitlist, we found that the Seedrs platform would help us achieve both in one swoop. And it did: we raised 134% of our target and nearly doubled our waitlist.

Why did you choose Seedrs? Why did you feel we were the right partner for your business? 

Seedrs has hosted several successful fintech crowdfunds, Revolut being the most well known, so it made total sense.

We spoke to one of Seedrs business representatives, Kasia, and were impressed. She persisted with the countless emails and questions we sent her over the course of several weeks — we were convinced that Seedrs was the right platform for us.

Why did you feel crowdfunding was suitable for your business? 

As briefly mentioned above, our goals at the time were to:

  1. Raise and close our pre-seed round
  2. Attract early adopters and fans of our product

And from our research, we found that crowdfunding: 

  1. Attracts both investors, users, and advocates
  2. Is geared more toward B2C companies 
  3. Attracts investors interested in Fintech (especially on Seedrs)

Overall it was a great match in terms of goals and timing.

How did you pitch crowdfunding to your lead investors?

Our lead investors supported our decision to crowdfund. I feel that we have a transparent relationship so I wasn’t worried about receiving any pushback. They agreed it was good idea! 

Talk us through what running a campaign was like? 

Running a campaign was more work than expected!

Prior to launching the campaign, we read through the marketing guide tool kit and several resources in how to run a campaign. At the face of it, it seemed quite logical, but once the campaign starts, it goes from 0-100mph in an instant. 

There’s doc requests pinging your email throughout the day, forum topics being posted, emails to be sent out, social media posts to complete, admin work to be done, plus more. While each task required a different amount of time, we knew that we needed 100% focus in order to deliver high quality engagement. So early on in our campaign, we structured our tasks throughout the day so that we can be more proactive than reactive – dedicating X amount of time for each task. By organising and being disciplined we were able to give each task the focus that was needed for us to deliver a successful campaign.

Managing investor questions/interactions can get difficult at times. One thing that we tried our best to do is to directly answer the questions and give more than what was asked. Often you find interviewees “dance” around the question and divert it into something else —instead, we developed a rubric when it came down to answering detailed questions: 

  1. Does it directly answer the question?
  2. What else can we add? 

When an answer was completed another team member would review our answers and grade it against this rubric. It’s a minor detail and takes time but it’s worth it in the end. 

What were some of the aspects of crowdfunding you weren’t aware of that turned out to be essential for a successful round? 

Time commitment and consistent engagement. 

There’s a lot of free resources online that help with what to do, but not so much with how to do it. I created some “rules of engagement” to ensure that we set a high standard when communicating with potential investors. This included things like, ‘Respond to Doc requests within 1 hr’ and ‘forum discussions within 12hrs.’ So by organizing the helpful resources into actionable tasks throughout the week, we were able to better manage our time as well as stay consistent with our engagement. I included screenshots of the schedule we used and tips we created below:

What were some of the highlights of your campaign?

  • Engagement is key. I think there’s a direct correlation, or even a causation, between engagement and a successful campaign. And that’s a key learning that will translate well into building a successful company.
  • The fast-paced nature during the campaign. Building a company while running a crowdfunding campaign takes A LOT of time. Especially in the early stages where we’re a team of 3. It was fun running around with my team, executing several tasks to hit a common goal. There’s something about it that builds rapport within a team and made us grow closer.
  • Speaking with investors. I thoroughly enjoy speaking with users and investors on a 1:1 basis as I feel that it builds trust and that we can receive honest feedback. 

What investor feedback did you receive, and how has it helped you navigate your crowdfunding campaign and growth?

We received a lot of feedback in regards to go-to-market (GTM) and product development. Cost of acquiring a customer in B2C fintech can get expensive and difficult. I found the investors on the Seedrs platform quite sophisticated and willing to provide honest feedback on marketing strategies, which helped us hone our GTM approach. A lot of people were excited about our product and were willing to provide feedback on features and design. 

How would you describe your overall experience working with Seedrs? 

Overall, my experience with Seedrs has been great. 

Our rep, Millie, was fantastic to work with and was very consistent with weekly meetings to keep us accountable. I think the one thing that stood out to use was how comprehensive the Seedrs marketing toolkit is. I think that combined with the support you receive from the Seedrs staff is more than enough to execute a successful campaign. 

What have the proceeds from crowdfunding/your Seedrs round helped you achieve so far, and what plans do you have in the pipeline for the upcoming months? 

We’ve been able to hire a back-end developer and refine our GTM market strategy by working with industry leading marketing experts in the fintech industry. We’ve been able to nearly double our waitlist sign ups within two months of the end of the campaign. 

Has your company engagement improved after your campaign? Have you seen an increase in customers or revenue? 

We closed off our round in June 2022 and will launched our product in September 2022. We have seen an increase in engagement, site traffic, and user-signups since the campaign. Now that our name is out there a bit more, we’ve definitely experienced more interest from users, investors and potential partners.

Aside from the funds, what have been the long term benefits of your crowdfunding campaign

Relationships breed trust and crowdfunding provides a platform for users and investors to build trust with founders. I think that is the most important long term benefit that we received from Seedrs. It’s led to introductions with experts, partners, and people that can help us on this journey. As an example, we’ve been considering opening up an office in the EU due to Brexit and an investor that we connected with through the Seedrs platform intro’d us to Malta enterprise, which facilitates the opening of new businesses in Malta. Suffice to say, we are in the process of opening our office there thanks to the intro from our Seedrs investor! 

How do you keep your community engaged?

We do a few things to engage with our community:

  1. We post monthly company updates on the Seedrs platform. This includes anything from product development, marketing, fundraising, and everything else in between. 
  2. We’re picking up our social media and email marketing to provide relevant content targeted to our user base. 
  3. We keep an open-door policy with our Seedrs investors where we offer 1:1’s, and feedback sessions so they stay connected if they have any questions or simply want to brainstorm. Additionally, we have plans to organize IRL events in London where we’ll provide meet n greets and workshops to investors, founders, and our audience. 

Our long term vision for our community is to bridge the gap between life and money. Money management is something that we’re not taught at in school/University. What Strabo aims to do is to provide a tool that helps our community better track, understand, and manage their finances. In the long term, we see us building more products and services to continue to close the gap so they can live fulfilling lives.

To find out more about Strabo, visit their campaign page here.

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