Campaign Success: planarTECH
planarTECH is an engineering company which specialises in emerging 2D materials. The company is currently live on Seedrs and has raised over £400k from 700+ investors. We spoke with Founder & Managing Director, Patrick Frantz to hear their equity crowdfunding success story.
What attracted planarTECH to equity crowdfunding?
We spent much of 2019 looking to fundraise more traditionally but were frustrated by the lack of interest from the VC community. I think that this was due to our business being in an in-between phase of growth. That is, on the one hand, we were an established company with a track record of sales and modest profits. But on the other hand, our growth forecasts were based in reality and not wildly optimistic. It seems to me that many traditional VCs are looking to place big bets on unproven technology with large potential payoffs.
We were introduced to Seedrs by our good friend and colleague Ron Mertens at graphene-info. He had recently started a collaboration with Seedrs to promote graphene companies looking for funding, and we decided to give it a shot.
What did you do to prepare for your Seedrs campaign?
We didn’t actually have to do that much since we had already done a lot in 2019 to put together our pitch for investors. I would say the most time-consuming aspect of the process was the vetting put in place by Seedrs. Basically, Seedrs made us verify everything we claimed in the pitch, which in the end, I think is a good service for investors on the platform.
How much investment did you have pre-aligned before going live and how important do you think this was?
We went in with £137,500 out of our goal of £350,000 lined up. I would say that this is definitely important as many of the platforms such as Seedrs and Crowdcube will not let you even list unless you’ve met a certain threshold with pre-aligned investment. If I had to do it over again, I would say that it would have been better to have even more cornerstone investors lined up.
Were there any resources or external support services you used for your Seedrs campaigns?
We did almost everything in-house, and I relied primarily on our Chairman’s past experience with raising money. The one external service we did use was Proactive Investors UK, which definitely helped build awareness of both the campaign and the company.
What has been the most challenging part of the process?
Our business is primarily B2B, so unlike companies that primarily market directly to consumers, we did not have a large social following going into the campaign that we could leverage and convert into investment. So I would say that getting the word out about our campaign definitely was challenging.
If you could go back, what would you do differently?
I think it would have been nice to have more cornerstone investors lined up before we launched the campaign, plus a larger social media following (although that is a bit difficult in our industry).
What do you think has been key your Seedrs success?
In some sense, I think we were lucky as about halfway through our campaign we launched a product that was very much relevant to the current Covid-19 situation, which is a graphene-enhanced facemask. Once we did this and people saw the potential for the product, investment in the campaign really built some momentum.
How has the Covid-19 crisis affected your Seedrs campaign?
You can read Patrick’s response, along with others in our dedicated crowdfunding during Coronavirus post here.