Oliver Bridge of Cornerstone
Cornerstone founder Oliver Bridge explains how he raised the capital needed to scale his shaving subscription business…
Entrepreneurs find inspiration in the most bizarre places and Oliver Bridge, the entrepreneur behind shaving subscription business Cornerstone, is no different.
Bridge came up with the idea to launch Cornerstone whilst standing in the men’s toiletries aisle at his local Boots store.
He noticed how many styles of razors were on the market and came up with an idea to simplify the process of buying them.
This led to him getting to work on a business plan to launch his own online, shaving subscription business for men, and Cornerstone was born.
It has now been three years since he launched the business and Cornerstone now has over 130,000 men using its products every morning around the UK.
BQ caught up with Bridge to hear how he raised the capital needed to build the business and his top tips for start-ups looking to emulate his success.
Who are you and what is your business?
I'm Oliver Bridge, founder and CEO of Cornerstone.co.uk. We sell men's toiletries over the internet on a subscription model - giving men great quality products at fair prices without the hassle and inconvenience of having to repeatedly go to the shops to keep their bathroom stocked up. We launched in July 2014 and now have over 130,000 men using our products every morning around the UK.
What is/was your business journey?
I started out aged 14, selling big shoes at biggerfeet.com - a response to my struggle of finding large shoes in the shops! After receiving lots of media coverage and a national business award from Gordon Brown, I sold that business to my brother and went to Oxford University to study economics, where I joined the Oxford Entrepreneurs society.
At university, I started GenderChecker.com - the world's largest search engine of names, allowing you to tell the gender of almost any name in the world. After university, I worked for a branding and product development consultancy and then after that as a technology analyst for a venture capital fund. It was whilst working there (and having to shave every day) that I came up with the idea for Cornerstone.
How did you fund your ambitions? What did that lead to? (business growth etc)
I started Cornerstone using a £5,000 start-up loan and my £10,000 life savings. From there, we have raised over £6m in venture funding in various funding rounds from private investors. We have invested the funds into product development, building out our technology capabilities and also in marketing to grow awareness of our brand.
What advice do you have for other companies seeking funding?
Leave no stone unturned! The vast majority of people you speak to about your idea will not agree with your plan or your view on the market - keep going until you find someone that does. Once you find them, make sure you have someone on your team with good financial acumen - it sounds obvious, but it's crucial to winning investor confidence, getting a good deal from investors and importantly, spending the money wisely. Money spent on quality lawyers to draw up your investor documents and contracts is also well spent, although you won't appreciate this until later down the line!
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