Swogo, an award-winning e-commerce bundle technology that helps retailers in over 30 countries drive profitable growth, has raised multiple times on Seedrs, being one of the first companies ever to raise on our platform back in 2012.
We sat down with Swogo’s founder and CEO, Anthony Ng Monica, to talk about his experience raising funds on Seedrs and how this led to an exit.
Tell us a bit more about yourself before we dive into Swogo and your recent acquisition.
I’d consider myself an entrepreneur! I haven’t had a paid job since I left university, and I had very few contacts when I started out — so it’s been a journey to get where I’ve landed now. I started out with an internship at Seedrs and then at a VC firm, both were great ways to build up my contacts and investors. It was a longer approach working those summers to build my network, but it paid off and we were able to raise money through Seedrs and I was also able to invest through that round.
Tell us about how you got interested in Seedrs whilst being at uni?
It started when I read an article on TechCrunch about Jeff Lynn. I reached out to him and told him that I’d like to come and work for him. And the rest is history! Seedrs was my first ever internship.
How did Swogo start? Where has your vision taken you?
I was working part-time for Swogo whilst at university, although at that point we had a completely different business model. We’d ask people a series of questions about what they were looking for and then use their responses to recommend the most relevant products. But we ended up changing our offering completely, switching from B2C to B2B, empowering retailers from all over the world by automating cross-sell bundles.
How was it to be one of the first funded campaigns on Seedrs?
Yes, Swogo was deal number 7 on the platform!
I really believed in Jeff Lynn and the business and, without a big network of investors, I thought it would work for our company. It was quite hard to raise funds because we didn’t have anything built yet. We were at a very early stage and couldn’t really show off our product at that stage. Nowadays, businesses are much more mature on Seedrs. But at that time it worked out for us — it was the first external funding that we got!
Did you decide to raise funds on Seedrs because you believed in the platform as you’ve previously worked here? What was your fundraising journey like before Seedrs?
There were two main reasons that we decided to raise with Seedrs. The first was access to capital; it would have taken a lot of work for us to connect with that many investors individually. The second was the marketing that Seedrs offered, and we felt we got a lot back from that. As a B2C brand at that point we were looking for more brand advocates, and despite the switch to B2B the marketing aspect was a key driver for us to choose crowdfunding.
Did you consider any other fundraising options outside of crowdfunding?
We got into an accelerator program, raised angel money along the way and got some bank debt. So did have capital via various different methods, but in the end crowdfunding was really good for us. It got our brand off the ground.
Getting access to so many investors is great. If somebody can give you £1000 in one go they probably have a good amount of disposable income. I’d message all of these bigger ticket investors and convince them to invest a bit more, and many of them did! And then they’d often invest in the following Seedrs round too. People should really take advantage of the online versus offline networking you get with investors. We had some that invested over £100,000 so it’s worth being proactive in your communication with them.
So crowdfunding was really the way to go for Swogo at the beginning, what were the benefits that you saw in those early days of crowdfunding?
1. I like the nominee structure. I think that made things a lot simpler rather than dealing with lots of individual investors.
2. As investors were reinvesting in our round, the paperwork became very efficient and quick for our follow-on rounds. People knew what they had to do. The speed that we could raise at became much faster and the paperwork was the same. With no additional terms it was very founder friendly too.
Talk us through what running a campaign is like – do you have any key tips for people looking to do a crowdfunding campaign?
I’d recommend networking offline with people and bringing them back to invest on the Seedrs platform. It can have such an impact on your round.
Do you think that raising money through Seedrs had an impact on your growth journey?
Without a doubt. It provided faster access to capital with each of the rounds and access to people that actually helped us out. Our investors always gave very relevant advice, so it was lots of smart money. I think that’s a key benefit of a crowdfunding round — your investors really want your product to be top-notch. They’ll always test it and give feedback on how to improve!
Did you see any immediate impact on your company engagement after your rounds and did you see an increase in revenues?
For us that wasn’t really the case, but it’s also difficult to measure. When we went live with our technology, we had around 40,000 people using it and we didn’t spend any money on marketing. So, we don’t really know where these people came from. Seedrs did some press around our raise which got featured in the Financial Times which probably helped, but it was early days for both Swogo and Seedrs.
What are some of the highlights of raising with Seedrs and working with us?
- The speed that Seedrs works at is really good.
- The nominee structure to keep things simple.
- Access to capital.
Did you feel that you got a diverse investor base because of raising through Seedrs?
Definitely, and especially as time went on.
Tell us about your recent acquisition by 1WorldSync? How was the journey towards being acquired?
Selling the business was always part of the plan, but it was never the focus for us. It was always about building a good business that could last forever, and never needing to sell. Our vision was to build a profitable company, and that’s something that we’ve achieved in the period before exiting. Eventually, if you raise money you’re expected to give back to investors.
What were some of the main reasons why 1WorldSync acquired Swogo?
A lot of it was about our product and our access to the European market. We’ve managed to sell into 33 countries around the world, with a lot of big brand names like Sephora, Decathlon, Media Markt etc. which was a big benefit for 1WorldSync.
What are your future plans?
I’m going to be staying at 1WorldSync for the foreseeable future and I’ll still remain CEO at Swogo. I want to be a part of the continued growth of Swogo. For me, it’s been a big ambition to be able to grow the company in the US market so I’m very excited to be able to do that too.
Find out more about Swogo’s exit here.
Are you interested in raising funds with Seedrs?
We are the UK’s most active and dynamic investor, with our services rigorously put through their paces by hundreds of founders every year. Apply to raise with Seedrs now or get in touch to discuss your fundraising plans in more detail.