Crowd-investing platform that helped SMEs to raise funds with local private investors.
Finance Up was my first attempt as an entrepreneur. I started working on the project in May 2013, and the company officially shut down in January 2017 (after 15 months of non-activity...This is how fast works the administration).
After my engineering graduation, and a few years of business developpement in an engineering company, I felt like I needed to start a venture on my own. After looking for the right opportunity, I decided to go with crowdfunding, as it was trendy at the time, and regrouped two of my interests: finance and digital. Quitting my comfortable position was not a hard choice, as I had lost my motivation in my job. Maybe I shouldn't have bought an appartment few months before quitting, but that's another story!
I asked two friends of mine to join me, and they agree. However, I was the only one who commited entirely, whitout any security net: I quit my job, and from this time 100% of my time was dedicated to move forward Finance Up. That would be one of the lessons to be learned from this adventure.
We decided to go with equity-crowdfunding, as Kickstarter or Indiegogo were alwready huge companies, and lending-crowdfunding seemed too complicated to launch in France, at this time, with our small budget and small knowledge. This lack of knowledge was going to be also a huge burden for trying to get business... I had to pass two certification in finance (I didn't even know at the time what "regulated industry" meant ). I gained some good knowlege, but it took me about 6 months to have the authorization to act as à crowd-investing platform. During this time, I managed to incorporate the company (with €15k of capital, coming from the 3 of us), one of my partner was working on building the platform, while the other helped me with business developpment tasks, meeting entrepreneurs who wanted to raise funds, and looking for wealthy people who might be willing to help local SMEs.
After 2 years, in June 2015, we finally got the satisfaction of closing a deal: we helped a young company from Reims distributing high quality Champagne to raise about €150k from a dozen-or-so investors. Two years of hard work for less than €10k of revenue... no need to be a genius to understand that we were far from being profitable. Raising funds to help Finance Up grow was not an option, as 3 or 4 other French platforms already raised hundred of thousands, sometimes millions, euros. They had a significant advance on the domestic market. The train had left the station, and obviously, we weren't in!
I decided it was time to stop: we had the chance to win a small victory, but it was time to surrender and to gather our forces for others wars! In late 2014, I started working on another project, so I decided to let go Finance Up, and assign my energy in this new venture called Wirate.
When I look back, I jumped in the adventure with a very naïve perspective on how things has to be done in order to succeed in launching a startup. Even if I obviously lost money (and as a consequence, my appartment) I am very happy and proud to have started this adventure. My learning curve soared, and still today I realize how much I gained with this experience, in my finance skills obviously, but also in human relations, business developpment. It also helped me knowing more about myself, and meeting awesome people! These 2 years were as enriching as 10 or 15 years in a steady-employee position in my previous company.
My biggest satisfaction is to have managed to shut down the company and maintain good relations with my co-founders, despite the difficult circumstances of the failure.
To quickly summarize some important stuff I learned thank to this experience: