How four pre-revenue companies are plotting success

In this piece, we examine the raw potential in the earliest of early-stage companies.

Some 600,000 businesses were started in 2015, according to the think tank Centre for Entrepreneurs. Clearly, it is an exciting time for entrepreneurship in the UK, but you don’t often hear about the pre-revenue early-stage companies until they achieve some measure of success: which, naturally, is often based on how much money they are making.

The following companies haven’t made any cash yet, but the clues for success are there, from promising fundraising rounds to extensive social media engagement. Given a bit of time, a lot of work and some luck, household name status could be round the corner.

Little Concert

Founded: June 2016

Founders: Jimmy Bach and Giacomo Caloni

Backgrounds: Serial entrepreneur, aerospace engineer, amateur musicians

The idea: Community marketplace for musicians

Danish serial entrepreneur Bach and Italian former aerospace engineer Caloni founded Little Concert in June after graduating together from an MBA.

The former amateur musicians set out to create a community marketplace where musicians can, for a fee, promote themselves, showcase gigs, and offer their services on equal terms.

The pair noticed that live music is once again the core of the business for artists, and the fastest-growing sector in the industry measured in revenue. Despite this, the market for local musicians performing live music for small businesses and private hosts remains undisrupted, disconnected and greatly under-serviced, according to Bach and Caloni.

There have already been hires: a Canadian MBA graduate who Bach and Caloni describe as ‘the creative force in the company’, as well as an in-house tech team, a front-end ‘magician’, and a product tester.

The cornerstone of the company’s strategy is to focus on building and serving local communities offline and online. The heart of the community is the Community Task Force, which is made of full-time passionate people with unique experience in from the local grassroots.

Bach and Caloni aim to create hubs across Europe, and have local Community Ambassadors positioned in 10-15 key cities by the end of 2017, while the core of the company remains in London.

Freelotteries.co.uk

Founded: March 2016

Founder: Henry Buckley

Background: Sales, serial entrepreneur

The idea: A site for free-to-enter daily prize draws

Henry Buckley, an entrepreneur who turned down Dragons’ Den investment en route to building a successful marketing company, has started a new business that pledges to give away money for nothing.

Buckley turned down a £50,000 investment offer from Deborah Meaden in 2011 for his leaflet distribution company Jogpost – but it didn’t stop him from building the business to a £3 million turnover.

Now, he is starting again with Freelotteries.co.uk, a website that offers a daily cash prize to the site’s users, supported by advertising revenue.

In return for such activities as registering, playing the lotteries, and referring friends through social media, users will benefit from a points system that can be cashed in for a variety of prizes over time.

The site will also feature editorial content with topics ranging from travel and food and drink to cars and celebrity gossip, as well as hosting a leaderboard of the biggest points earners that month.

Additionally, the company will give money to charity in the event prizes are unclaimed.

Buckley says, ‘With Brexit on the horizon we’re living through uncertain economic times, and since the recession everyone still seems to be feeling the pinch. So I thought, why not start a company that will be giving away totally risk-free money every day? We truly are offering something for nothing – there’s no catch.’

Ubamarket

Founded: May 2016

Founder: Will Broome

Background: PR, entrepreneur

The idea: Shopping app to make shopping lists more manageable

After a background in PR and marketing, Will Broome founded an online resource for media agencies launching products in London, and since then has co-founded a company that introduces businesses to influential investors.

For the past five years, he’s been researching and developing Ubamarket. ‘The idea originally came from wandering round my local supermarket with my head buried in my phone trying to navigate the store via a shopping list which had been texted to me,’ explains Broome.

‘After several years of doing this I noticed everyone else doing exactly the same thing so thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if I had a magic shopping list which would guide me to everything one item at a time, on an efficient route around the store?’.’

He then began working out how to do that seamlessly as well as developing many other features such as product scanning and automatic loyalty, and has now got a unique product to introduce to the market.

In terms of acquiring customers Broome is going to make sure the app immediately benefits both the shopper and the store before rolling out to other stores later this year. ‘We have purposely made sure that Ubamarket is affordable to almost any store that wants it.

‘With our aspirations of being market leaders and becoming a universal platform for enhanced in-store experiences, we feel that we can generate impressive revenues by scaling the app across the UK and internationally within 18 months.’

Evossi

Founded: 2016

Founder: Ed Flood

Background: Advertising and marketing degree, marketing manager roles

The idea: An innovative range of sports apparel

Since 24-year-old Ed Flood graduated in 2013, he has worked his way up from marketing intern to marketing manager in three separate companies.

His love of running and design coupled with his frustration with the existing running wear available on the market led him to create Evossi – a range of running apparel that he feels addresses the needs of runners better than other products. The garments incorporate features such as strategically-placed pockets, a ‘cable management system’ for headphone wires, and specialist fabrics for air flow and comfort.

The company will be launching a Kickstarter campaign in mid September to raise £15,000 over 30 days, and Ed is awaiting the next stages to coordinate production and logistics for manufacture. ‘This will mean the Kickstarter backers will get their Evossi products on time, but also at the highest quality available,’ Ed says.  

The social media community is gaining traction too. So far, the project has 1266 followers on Instagram, 729 tags using #EvossiExplore, 238 Facebook likes and 37 in-depth discussions. ‘There is real engagement within the growing community,’ says Ed.

Further reading on ideas and business planning

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