IdeaSquares is a virtual, global space for business ideas. Whether a business idea is at the very beginning or is ready for investment and high growth, ideas are instantly open to votes, support and feedback from the crowd.
IdeaSquares also provides a customisable template for the generation of ideas amongst peers.
Three active revenue streams.
1) A basic promotional service for ideas. Additional exposure to paying customers. We convert 9-10% of new Ideas to paying customers.
2) Reciprocal referral partnerships with investment funds and equity crowdfunding platforms. We've now referred 9 businesses for full SEIS funding and are ready to scale this stream internationally.
3) Customisable template provision for the generation of business ideas. Currently in conversation with 3 major university entrepreneurship groups.
We've also received interest from SME's and enterprises to use the theme as a private idea-generating platform for use amongst their staff.
We provide a centralised platform upon which users can showcase their business ideas and open them up to the crowd, (be it global or within their niche community) & receive important, early stage, feedback and support via rating and commenting.
Early stage feedback and support is crucial to a new business idea and provides important validation and re-assurance.
Good funding options have high barriers to entry to ensure qualified investment opportunities for their investors. Business propositions often need to evidence a certain level of validation and potential, to receive funding.
We encourage users to work towards reaching their market, gaining exposure, continued growth and becoming funded. By encouraging well thought out and supported business propositions, users increase their chance of success when seeking investment, or support from professional services and thus we aim to break down those barriers to entry.
This added value is great for funders and professional services because it has the potential to increase the quality of business propositions approaching their services and in turn means they can see more projects successfully supported via their service.
Our customisable templates allow for the generation of ideas within communities and groups. The template can be used in many ways, however would prove most useful for startup competitions to collect applicants and allow viewers to up vote and discuss their favourites, investment funds to showcase applicants, and entrepreneurship groups to share ideas amongst one another.
With interest in the template from the SME and enterprise market, for use amongst their staff for the generation of ideas internally, we plan to continue to explore this revenue opportunity carefully over the coming months.
Substantial accomplishments to date
One of the first 10 WebStart Bristol companies, we subsequently completed a 2nd round of investment via Seedrs earlier this year just days after opening the round.
Launched in February 2014 we've seen over 1000 IdeaSquares from across the globe, 1500+ users and approaching 6000 social media followers, all (still) on a £0 marketing budget.
3 reciprocal affiliate funding partnerships in Europe, Canada and New Zealand, one being a major European SEIS fund. Actively referring in the UK with a view to begin international referrals in the coming months.
9-10% (up from 3% at the last investment round) of new users have paid $55 for additional promotion of their business via our home page and within our newsletter.
Successful launch of the IdeaSquares’ template, which can now be transposed to investment funds, University entrepreneurship groups and startup competitions. Conversations are in progress with 3 major UK university entrepreneurship groups.
Three active revenue streams;
1) Affiliate partnerships.
We’re actively referring to UK funding partners, including a major European VC fund and have spent the past 6 months engaging in cross marketing efforts with international funding partners. 80% of IdeaSquares now come from outside of the UK, so we intend to begin referring internationally very soon. Nine IdeaSquares are now engaged with a major SEIS fund partner and the first is due to receive full SEIS funding within the coming weeks.
2) Additional promotion.
We offer additional promotion for individual IdeaSquares. This includes featuring ideas in our newsletter, on our home page and via social media. We currently convert 9-10% (up from 3%) of all IdeaSquares to promoted squares and have had excellent feedback and results from this service.
3) The IdeaSquares template
As a way of marketing IdeaSquares to niche communities, last month we rolled out the IdeaSquares template for use as a customisable idea generation platform (see example tbc). The template works in the same way as the main site, however it allows users to share ideas for a specific purpose (e.g. startup competitions) or within a specific group (e.g. university entrepreneurship societies). This is offered with and without basic email support and already has paying customers. It is currently being used by an investment fund to receive applications for their current investment round and we are in conversation with 3 UK universities to use the template within their entrepreneurial courses and entrepreneurship societies.
We're delighted to have received interest from SME's and enterprises to use the template as a private idea generation platform amongst their staff. We recognise the use of the template within SME's and enterprises as a huge opportunity and plan to aim to deliver this option as soon as we have a confirmed demand.
Use of proceeds
The next 6 months will be focused on further increasing users, referring to international partners, automating processes, growing lean, expanding our reach and continuing to increase our value add.
IdeaSquares intends to use the proceeds of this fundraising round as follows:
- 15% platform development (automation and internationalisation)
- 15% marketing and sales
- 25% legal and professional (for international business)
- 50% team salaries.
We aim to see over 4,000 business ideas submitted to the platform within a further 6 months and be in a position to seek a much larger round of investment or be turning over enough revenue to grow without further investment until exit.
IdeaSquares currently targets aspiring entrepreneurs with early stage business ideas.
This year so far, in the UK alone, half a million new startups were born (roughly 50,000 per month)
The market demonstrated above, does not account for persons with business ideas who have not yet formed a company.
Government statistics show that April 2012 – October 2013 saw £82million invested in 1100 UK startups under the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), with an average of £1.3 million being raised every week through the scheme.
Theses figures are for SEIS opportunities alone and represent only a portion of investment opportunities in the UK.
The following estimations are of the above confirmed UK market alone for a 12 month period and do not include our international reach. Since UK ideas account for just 20% of our content currently (80% of ideas are submitted from worldwide locations), we estimate that the following stats only represent 20% of our entire market and potential revenue in a 12 month period.
If we reach only 1% of the UK target market of new startups (which we aim to do so by the end of 2015), we would expect to see a minimum of 500 new UK startups (accounting for 20% of our audience), per month (6,000 per year) posting their ideas to IdeaSquares.
Characteristics of target market
The online startup community continues to grow rapidly, with crowd funding platforms alone taking over $5 billion in 2013 (compared to $1.5 billion in 2011).
The UK alone has witnessed significant growth, ‘growing by more than 600% between 2012 and 2013, from just under £4m raised in 2012 to more than £28m in 2013. The industry is now on track to reach £1bn by the end of 2014’ (Forbes, Aug 2014)
Non-equity crowd funding platforms have seen a steady decline in their percentage of successfully funded projects. ‘Kickstarter reported that 46 percent of projects succeeded. Last year, it dropped to 43.8 percent. Today, it's 40.6 percent’ (Denver Post, Oct 2014).
Thus, we believe that the potential for IdeaSquares to seize business opportunities should increase, assisting aspiring entrepreneurs to seek recognition and market appraisal for their ideas.
The allocation of a dedicated Business Development & Marketing Officer highlights the growth of IdeaSquares & a commitment to further success. We are currently engaged in a plethora of online marketing activity; our angles of attack include:
- Social Media – We post relevant content daily in order to offer the proper information, which our target audience will appreciate. Engagement with our social media campaigns has proliferated through increased engagement; facilitated by the allocation of resources to fuel business development.
- Direct Mail Marketing – we have established a network of investors and startup enthusiasts that form the recipients of our weekly newsletter providing business ideas the identification and appraisal they require.
- SEO – our site is fully SEO’d and formatted to constantly communicate with all search engines.
- Affiliate referrals. Established partnership with funding partners has provided bi-lateral benefits; providing Ideasquares with clients whilst allocating partners with promoted business ideas.
Marketing efforts like this not only increase users of the site and advertise our brand, but also encourage square owners to share their idea (increasing traffic) and are cost effective.
Moving forward with our digital marketing efforts, we are looking to continue to find creative ways to market at low costs.
Partnerships with international funding partners would allow IdeaSquares to adopt a fully global marketing activity as a consequence.
The future of IdeaSquares’ global outlook is based upon the development of further partnerships to continually increase incoming seed-stage business ideas. The reputation of a global IdeaSquares brand through this expansion will perpetuate organic growth.
It's imperative that we track and monitor all online activity to provide a comprehensive evaluation of our marketing methodology.
We have developed a strong brand and identity that we feel is modern, bold and consistent with current popular social platforms. It is professional, clean, simple and reliable in design and colour. We consistently receive positive feedback concerning both the layout and user interface of ideasquares.com and continually look for ways to improve our service.
There are a number of startup communities that offer business support and useful information, however idea validation and support to funding or growth on one centralised platform is a relatively new concept and seems wholly unchallenged. Sites such as BetaList, ProductHunt and Erlibird list and support new startups, but we do not believe they offer routes to funding, additional support or a template version of their applications for use in other areas. These are our USP's.
It is recognised that new competitors will emerge that provide early stage idea validation, however IdeaSquares aims to prevail by constantly increasing value and building a strong network of support from its users. Having established a brand reputation, IdeaSquares strives to perpetuate its growth through the funds raised in this further round with Seedrs.
This further round of funding will provide the resources for the marketing and labour force required to exponentially increase users, co-ordinate further partnerships with funding platforms, and further automate our service for a lean growth pattern.