Following last week’s post about AVUXI, another post on angel investing.
This week my friends at Perkbox announced their A round and a crowd funding campaign on Seedrs. I have participated in this round as well as in the original angel round in 2011 - my very first angel investment.
Perkbox is a multi-sided marketplace, on the one hand helping companies keep their employees motivated and engaged and on the other helping brands create a loyal customer base.
While my usual investment strategy is to focus on location based services, there is one category I make exceptions for: start-ups founded by people I know to be exceptional. I know Saurav Chopra, one of the two co-founders of the business from many, many years ago. Like me, he and Chieu Cao (his co-founder) both worked at Yahoo. When Saurav approached me about investing in Huddlebuy, as the business was originally known, I said yes because I knew him to be someone who does not give up. And that attribute, perseverance, is the Huddlebuy/Perkbox story. The founders simply refused to give up over the last five years, finding one path after another to keep making money until they developed the now massively successful Perkbox formula.
I can remember meeting up with Saurav one dark winter night in Soho a few years ago, in a office on Denmark street that can charitably be described as a dump. We went for a beer, Saurav updated me on the business, listing off one thing after another that wasn’t working. Hearing the long list I was getting depressed, and assumed the company was nearing its end. It would have been so easy to give up, but Saurav was as focused as ever, endlessly full of new ideas to try. And eventually he and Chieu and the team hit upon a winning formula. The headlines are filled with the stories of the overnight successes, or the five person start-up bought by Google/Facebook/Amazon/etc for many millions three months after they start. The reality is that building something from nothing is very hard and there is no shortcut. The key attribute to achieving success remains quite simply not giving up, even in the face of many difficulties and failures. In September I visited London and went by Perkbox’s new office. The contrast to that dreary night in Soho could not have been more stark. The new office looked great, and houses a massive (and growing) team. But what hasn’t changed is that Saurav was still bubbling with ideas.
Congratulations to Saurav and Chieu and their entire team for never giving up. They should be very proud of the progress they’ve made, and I looking forward to watching Perkbox’s continued growth, which this funding round will enable.
Final point - the Seedrs platform is open to anyone, you too can invest in Perkbox (though I think the investment round will be closing very soon as it is already well over the target). That doesn’t mean you should though. Make sure you understand all the very real risks involved in angel investing, including losing the entire amount you invest. And definitely you shouldn’t be investing in anything unless you have a well-diversified portfolio of boring traditional investments. I’m actually normally quite pessimistic on crowd-funding, a point I go into detail about in an interview I did with (the German-language) Finanzwesir earlier this year.