Clearwell Capital Group Interview
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We caught up with Ed Marley-Shaw, CEO of Clearwell Capital Group this week to find out how he came to form the company and why they’re raising funds now.
Clearwell Capital Group launched their “Clearwell Bond One” with CODE just a couple of weeks ago and so far the raise has been massively successful. They’ve already raised almost 90% of their £300,000 target!
We had a chat with Ed Marley-Shaw, CEO and Founder of Clearwell to find out why he believes alternative finance and debt in particular are such a great way to raise growth capital for his business.
CODE: What can you tell us about Clearwell?
Ed: I set up Clearwell five years ago from scratch as a means of providing funding for house builders.
Before setting up Clearwell I worked in investment banking. After the financial crisis in 2008 it became clear to me that there were several areas that desperately needed funding. I spotted that there were a lot of areas that were now in great need of funding – in particular the house-building sector. After weighing up the balance of risk vs reward I decided it was an opportunity too good to pass up.
CODE: Tell us about your raise, why now?
Ed: We made our first loan in 2013, and since then we’ve provided £7 million in funding to date. We’re at a stage now where we’re ready to grow, and continue to do more to support those small independent house builders who still need our help.
Now that we’ve demonstrated that the model works, it seems like the right time. We want to capitalise on that proof of concept and offer a wider audience of investors the chance to support us too. We’ve currently got £5 million loans outstanding and we want to double that figure by the end of next year.
CODE: Have you ever raised funds using altFin platforms like us before?
Ed: Yes, we’ve done several small debt raises in the past. We really like the concept of an investment marketplace that you can come back to.
In total we’ve raised 16 separate loans, four of which have hit repayment and been paid back in full. The others are due for repayment over the next three years.
CODE: Why bonds and not equity?
Ed: The projects we fund typically have a 12-18 month time-frame with what we believe to be a high probability of being profitable. This means we can aim to offer investors a return and their cash back over a fixed time frame of a few years rather than the much less certain returns and timing that equity offers.
CODE: How did you prepare for this raise?
Ed: Given that we’ve raised debt funds before and we’re continuing an existing model that’s been successful for several years now, preparing has been pretty straight-forward. Of course we had to prepare documentation and we had a video made to promote the raise. Basically preparing for the raise with CODE has been a natural continuation of what we were already doing, with the added benefit of reaching a broader range of Investors.
CODE: Why CODE Investing?
Ed: The key thing for us was CODE’s great track record of supporting bond issues of a similar size and for similar businesses in particular, such as the recent HAB Housing raise.
Another reason we chose CODE is because of your focus on debt over equity. We really wanted to go forward with a marketplace that’s known for bonds and that has a good success rate in this area of alternative finance.
CODE: What are the biggest challenges you face as a small business owner in the UK?
Ed: I’d say staffing, that, and finding enough hours in the day! It can be challenging to find the right sort of people. The very nature of a small business means that you need to hire people with a broader skill-set, people who are comfortable with a greater degree of flexibility in their job role. Our employees tend to be more well-rounded and don’t fit into narrow roles.
CODE: What do you find most rewarding about running your own business?
Ed: I get to decide what to focus on and fully develop our efforts on what I believe we should be doing, rather than having to blindly follow direction from above.
As a small business we have flexibility and the ability to be more agile, rather than having to wade through corporate box ticking bureaucracy which makes it very exciting and fulfilling.
CODE: Finally, what advice would you give to other small business owners thinking of using alternative finance to raise capital?
Ed: I’d say first and foremost make sure you have a coherent financial plan. Test your assumptions and make sure your plan is achievable. Without doing that you won’t go anywhere.
The Clearwell Bond One is currently 99% funded and still funding, you can find out more details on their raise, how much they’ve raised so far and how to invest here.*
If you’re interested in alternative finance as a means to grow your business, find out how you can raise funds with CODE Investing now.
*Your capital is at risk, please read our risk disclosure notice before investing in any opportunities.
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