In May 2022, The Happiness Index team set out to raise a £500,000 round to grow their community of Happiness and Humans and drive a global movement of organisations that believe employee engagement and happiness are the starting point for business success. The Happiness Index is a SaaS platform that enables leading organisations to actively listen to their people and gain a deep insight into their cultural health.

We sat down with Matt Phelan, Co-Founder and Co-CEO at The Happiness Index, to discuss what their crowdfunding experience was like, and which challenges they’ve overcome.

Tell us about how The Happiness Index started? Where has your vision taken you so far? 

I started my first business, a marketing agency, in 2008 right before the last big financial crisis. Although I can’t recommend starting a business when the world is in melt-down, we certainly had to learn a lot of lessons very quickly at the time! 

My first business was actually integral to building The Happiness Index. Not only did the idea come from one of our customers (who is now our Chief Marketing Officer), but our CTO at the time built V1 of our product. It was initially an in-house solution we used! Quickly our customers started asking to use it too, and now we provide a platform that’s used by thousands of people across 100+ countries. 

Tell us about your fundraising journey before Seedrs?

Our previous funding rounds had focused only on Angel investors with a minimum investment level of £25k. In total we’ve had two Angel rounds before coming to Seedrs, with a total of 50 Angels that had invested over the two rounds.

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

We considered another angel funding round and VC funding. We opted for crowdfunding via Seedrs to create a scalable way of enabling more of our community to get directly involved in our journey. This is in addition to the EMI Share Option scheme that we offer for our own people. 

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

We liked the people at Seedrs and felt that Seedrs backs the kind of businesses who want to grow in a sustainable way. 

Why did you feel crowdfunding was suitable for your business?

We have a very strong and engaged community, called “Happiness and Humans”. We wanted to create a platform that enabled them to join our journey at a price point that was inclusive for everyone. We also liked the international benefits of running a crowdfunding campaign with Seedrs, we reached a new international audience and increased our awareness in countries outside of the UK.

How did you pitch crowdfunding to your lead investors? 

Our lead investors were already supportive and bought into our long-term community plan. They understood that as a scaling business growing an engaged community is essential to our success.

Talk us through what running a campaign was like? 

Getting ready to launch your campaign takes time and very careful planning – more than you’d think if you haven’t done this before. As it’s a regulated process each individual communication requires sign off prior to going live, so it’s essential you do your due diligence up front and are able to adequately evidence all your key statistics. For example, having your customer contracts to hand, knowing all key performance indicators etc 

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

The internal communication of your campaign is as important as the external communication to the public. Before you go external, you have to make sure that your people and employees understand why you are crowdfunding, what it means for the company and themselves and how they can get involved if they want to. For us in particular, it was important to put this in the context of the share option scheme that we offer our employees.

What were some of the highlights of your campaign?

We got some great shout outs from new investors on social media which really helped to amplify the message. Most importantly our investor profile is now much more diverse in terms of age, gender, geographic spread and ethnicity which was exactly what we wanted to achieve. Our investors really bought into our mission of creating a happier world of work.

How would you describe your overall experience working with Seedrs? 

We are delighted that our campaign overfunded on the Seedrs platform and see it as an important milestone in the journey of our company. We’ve managed to reach new investors and engage our existing community in our journey in a simple and scalable way. It has also opened the door to new opportunities for other funding avenues and investors that we wouldn’t have had without the Seedrs publicity. 

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

We will continue to balance our investment across:

  1. Growing and developing our team
  2. The development roadmap of our platform 
  3. Expanding our global growth sales and partnership capability

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

None of our direct competitors have gone down a crowdfunding route and have decided to use large VC rounds. By involving our community and choosing crowdfunding we feel that we stand out as innovative and more authentic. It builds perfectly on the work we’ve already done on our Happiness and Humans community – creating a movement of people who are serious about changing the world of work for the better.

To find out more about The Happiness Index, visit their business page or learn more about Matt Phelan in his Meet the Founder interview with Seedrs 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.