Crowdfund Campus: Supporting businesses on campus

Universities are hot-beds of creativity and one West Midlands start-up is looking to turn this creativity into a constant revenue stream. BQ heard how the guys behind Crowdfund Campus are looking to build on a niche they have identified in the ever popular crowdfunding industry.

Crowdfund Campus is a crowdfunding platform designed specifically to find financial backers for the projects and businesses that stem from Universities.

As almost every business idea needs funding to get off the ground, co-founders Henry Jinman and Alex Bargate are looking to provide University spin-outs with the key ingredients to get off the ground.

Henry told BQ: "Crowdfund Campus is essentially a club of Universities that are using crowdfunding as a means of fundraising for their own projects, and the projects and businesses of their students, staff and alumni.

"The projects run a 30-90 day campaign where they collect funds from friends, family, alumni, customers and the wider world.

"Crowdfund Campus provides support and training for projects and shares the campaign data back with the University.

"It also provides Universities with educational workshops on crowdfunding and is developing a teaching tool that will simulate crowdfunding and aid in the teaching of alternative finance."

In order to get the project off the ground, the duo themselves knew that they had to source funding and support to make it happen.

Henry added: "We were given support by Warwick Ventures (the University of Warwick’s Tech Transfer Offcie) who put us into a software incubator.

"We were self funded before a small amount of seed-capital from the University of Warwick. We will also be going for our next funding round in January/February from a group of Angel Investors!

"Warwick Ventures have always been our primary source of support alongside Minerva business angels at the Warwick Science Park. More recently we have moved into Entrepreneurial Spark in Birmingham."

It hasn’t always been a smooth ride for the two, as Henry told us: "Navigating Universities is always a major challenge. I am sure they would admit they are slow to act, bureaucratic and each University is very different so it is difficult to profile and target them effectively."

Going forward, the company is looking to expand its offering by delving into equity crowdfunding.

He added: "We will be launching an equity platform in May 2016 with the aim of bridging the ‘valley of death’ in the commercialisation of University technologies.

"This is where many ideas based on excellent science and research from within the University struggle to reach market due to (amongst other things) a lack of funding.

"These ideas though, have potentially wide reaching (dare I say world-changing) and positive impacts to society, therefore we believe we can bridge the gap by using equity crowdfunding. Not least the UK government is keen to see."

Speaking about what makes the business different to its competitors, Henry said: "We have a really clear focus and University based ideas and technologies.

"Getting students the financial support they need to get projects off the ground and bringing great ideas based on science and innovation to market.

"We are also graduate entrepreneurs for graduate entrepreneurs, so we understand what it is like to take an idea as a student and spin it out from the University!"

BQ will continue to cover the Crowdfund Campus story as the company continues to grow.