10 lessons from growing a crowdfunding start-up to an Australian listed company in 2 years

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As a start-up founder and business owner, I am aware of the myriad of challenges business owners may face. These issues range from managing cash flow, raising funds from investors, setting key performance indicators, meeting sales and revenue targets, managing teams, recruitment, training staff and many others.

Below are my top 10 lessons from growing a 2-person start-up, CoAssets (NSX:CAX) into a listed company on the National Stock Exchange (NSX) of Australia in just two years.

1. Start and take action

It is important for entrepreneurs to establish a sustainable direction for their businesses (i.e. one that will give them the highest chance of success), not over-analyse and just get the ball rolling.

When I was faced with the question of should I enter the corporate world or should I start my own business? I quickly decided that a start-up business which is generally a small and nimble unit with the ability to make quick decisions and take fast actions, with fewer processes to go through appealed to me more.

As a result, I bit the bullet and decided to leave the secure job prospects in the civil service and venture into the uncertainties of entrepreneurship.

2. Don’t have a Plan B

In all honesty there was no Plan B for me. This didn’t mean that I didn’t have contingencies, what it meant was that once I set my mind on an entrepreneurial journey, I gave it all I had.

3. You will fail

Silicon Valley’s famous mantra is: “Fail Fast, Fail Often”. This means that for an entrepreneur to successfully sell his or her product, he or she is bound to fail several times before finding that one road to success. As long as he or she rebounds quickly from failure, success is not an unreachable goal.

4. Doing what you love

A good reason why someone should consider starting a business is because running their own company gives them the latitude to pursue something that they feel very passionate about.

Why am I passionate about crowdfunding? Simple. It connects those with opportunities to those with funds in a secure, safe and reliable manner while fulfilling the needs of the market.

5. Execution is key

While a good product is important, equally important is how the product is being marketed. Putting things into perspective, with more than 7.3 billion people in the world, the odds of someone coming up with one truly unique ides is quite slim. Therefore the differentiating factor is not the idea but the execution.

6. Finding the right team

I cannot stress enough the importance of finding the right business partner – one who shares your vision an goals for your start-up firm, and one who is able to complement you in areas you lack in. Luckily for me, I was able to find a partner with all of the traits mentioned above.

The other main priority for a start-up firm is not to recruit the most qualified person for the job, rather, it is to employ the person most eager to excel at the job. At CoAssets we have no reservations about hiring fresh graduates and interns, because the work is something new and not a service anyone else is offering.

 7. Initial funding – finding the right investors

Start-ups need to be aware that not all investors are the same. In general, the difference between investors lies in the different types of companies they choose to invest in. Venture capitals, incubators, angels are usually more inclined to invest in start-up firms with high growth potential, while private equity and hedge funds tent to invest more in equity markets or securities.

So before you start talking to investors, it is very important that you do your homework. Things to look out for are not only the type of investment (i.e. seed, early, expansion) you want, but also ensuring that you are in the right industry. You definitely do not want to be talking to a biotech fund if you are an e-commerce start-up.

 8. Know your consumers and competitors

I believe that in order to generate revenue from your business model and increase user experience and engagement with your platform you need to implement a Strategic Marketing Framework. The CoAssets team relies on this to grow our business and truly understand our consumers and competitors.

9. Growing traction

When start-ups are first established, sales are low or almost non-existent. Why is this the case? This is because most of the time, the company would be very new to the market and consumers tend to be a bit more hesitant.

CA_noshadow_blackFrom my own experience, when CoAssets and the whole crowdfunding idea first started, there were a lot of reservations. Therefore, to get the ball rolling we put a lot of energy into marketing and public relations to let stakeholders become more aware and conformable with our brand and what we do.

One of our initiatives is to offer new users the opportunity to invest in a project using our virtual tokens and gain real returns, so that they can see how easy it is to use the platform and invest in the projects.

10. Risk management

For me, risk management is by far my biggest priority in the business, and my teamwork tirelessly to come up with ways to minimize risks to our platform as well as the users. We have a number of safeguards in place and a strict set of criteria that must be met before a deal is listed on our platform to insure only genuine investment opportunities are offered to our investors.

It is never a pleasant experience for stakeholders when things go sour, so make sure you have adequate risk management strategies in place.

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About CoAssets (NSX Code: CAX)

CoAssets (www.coassets.com) is one of South-East Asia’s leading crowdfunding platforms, which is listed on the National Stock Exchange of Australia. It is not licensed and/or regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Officially launched in Singapore in July 2013, it currently has more than 50,000 registered users. In terms of value, the amount successfully funded stands at more than AU$43 million. The company won the Red Herring Top 100 Asia Award for 2014, as well as OPP Gold Award for Excellence and currently has offices in Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Singapore.

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