Paperclip is a leading provider of university marketplaces in the UK, and is raising up to £300k to deepen it's presence and aiming to onboard over 70% of UK universities before the end of 2020.
The longer-term plan is to take on the likes of Shpock, eBay, Gumtree and Craigslist by providing a secondhand marketplace that competes on fees, accessibility, and security.
We'll aim to do this by onboarding as many universities and corporate communities as possible over the next 12-24 months while introducing cross-pollination between marketplaces (ie. Oxford students selling to Cambridge students), before consolidating them all onto our open marketplace (ie. Oxford and Cambridge students selling to the rest of the world).
This means we would be effectively taking on incumbents from the top-down instead of from the bottom-up, by onboarding communities instead of individuals.
We believe that most students want a marketplace to buy, sell and swap together with other students at their university. In our view, the problem is that the vast majority of universities don’t have a good one. We feel this makes it difficult and expensive to buy and sell essential university items such as textbooks.
Substantial accomplishments to date
- Winner, best online retailer platform, Cardiff Life Awards 2018.
- Co-founders both awarded '35 under 35 business and professional men in Wales' by WalesOnline in 2018.
- Nominated for Welsh Startup of the Year, Innovative Welsh Startup of the Year 2017, and 3 regional awards in 2018.
- Onboarded 11 universities including UCL, Oxford and Cambridge, with thousands of students signed up between them.
- Onboarding first potential inbound international clients; ALU in Mauritius.
- Onboarded first corporate client, Dell EMC; providing them with a marketplace for staff to buy and sell together as part of our long-term enterprise sales plan.
- Agreed commercial terms with Just Eat and Student Beans to promote their brands via discounts and samples in 2018/19 academic year, along with other brands including Harry's, Cornerstone, Greedy Llama, Readly, and Sn-ap.
- Notable press mentions include LifeHacker, Express, Dave, and BBC Radio.
Paperclip will be offering marketplaces to universities for free as part of a minimum-friction land grab. We aim to derive income from advertising partnerships and marketplace fees with a revenue share for each students' union.
PROMOTIONAL REVENUE: Promotional handouts such as special offers, discounts or product samples for between £1.50 and £22 per conversion; current partners are Just Eat and Giff Gaff.
MONTHLY SAAS: Upselling premium marketplace features (such as Android/iPhone app access) for a monthly subscription fee of up to £2,000 per month.
PLATFORM REVENUE: We aim to charge listing/fees for items, commission from areas such as lettings (student accommodation), services (such as tutoring), events and jobs advertised on the marketplace.
Use of proceeds
TEAM: The funds will allow the core team to continue functioning, along with ability to bring onboard interns for 6-12 months on the ESPA scheme (£500pm per intern) to help with sales and engagement. The firm has already made their key hires for 2019 as part of the wider investment round, bringing onboard an experienced product manager and a marketing coordinator.
SALES, MARKETING, GROWTH & ENGAGEMENT: Fund the marketing/engagement budget for the 2019/2020 academic year, ensuring that each new marketplace onboarded receives the appropriate level of engagement to grow organically.
'LIGHT' EXPANSION: Once 70% of UK universities are onboarded, some attention could be turned to the US; there are 109 registered universities in the UK but over 2,600 accredited universities in the United States.