Small business funding interview: Sow & Reap

by Nov 25, 2016Small Business Tips & Advice

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We caught up with Founder of property development business Sow & Reap Suresh Vagjiani, to find out what advice he would give small businesses seeking funding through alternative finance.

Funding property development with debt financing

Sow & Reap Properties Ltd is a specialist in property investments that aims to create wealth for its clients by investing in Central London properties. They are converting a house in what they consider to be one of the most prestigious neighbourhoods of London – St John’s Wood, into 10 “mini studios”.

They’re currently raising £745,000.00 for their Property Investment Bonds listed on our Investment Opportunities page.

What are you raising for and why now?

Suresh: We purchased a property in Belgrave Gardens near St John’s Wood, an area that we believe to be both prestigious and convenient for anyone working in central London.  The funds we’re raising from investors are for the conversion of the property into 10 “micro studios”.

With what we currently understand to be around two thirds of London being financially out of reach to the average wage earner, there’s a real shortage of affordable accommodation in the city.

We feel that the timing couldn’t be better for this raise as we’re giving people the opportunity to invest in Central London property at an extremely low contribution level (the minimum investment is £1,000). At the same time we’re making what we like to call “luxury living affordable in London”.

Why Alternative Finance rather than the traditional funding route?

Suresh: We’re used to raising money ourselves so in some ways we’ve been using alternative finance means already. The difference is doing this through CODE’s platform.  We’re really excited about raising through altFin, mainly because it offers the chance for us to approach new distribution channels.

We’re making contact and reaching out to different types of investors. Reaching a new audience means that they become more involved in the future, opening new doors onto a range of different solutions.  Who knows where it will lead.

What made you choose CODE?

Suresh: We actually came across Ayan (Mitra) and CODE Investing via a personal introduction from part of the London Business School Alumni. Referrals are always a great source of business contacts and in a lot of ways it was reassuring – in meant there was a lot of trust there from the start.

Of course we also looked at some of CODE’s past deals and successful raises. Knowing that they had raised so much for other businesses in the past was an added reassurance for us.

Regulatory compliance was important to us too, knowing that CODE is FCA registered.

How did you find CODE Investing’s Bootcamp?

Suresh: The Bootcamp process was very informative, and very reassuring.  In order to pass we had to take our own due diligence to another level.  We had to prove and then re-prove that the company was ready and that our numbers stacked up.

At the end of it we were reassured that we were in a position to go out to investors knowing that we could answer any questions they might have about our offer.

What’s one of the biggest challenges as a small business raising funds?

Suresh: Having time to think strategically.  Being your own boss means you can often be so busy actually dealing with the day to day running of the business.  It’s essential to give yourself the space to plan and think strategically about what you want to do or achieve.

When it comes to preparing for a funding raise like this it’s even more important. Like giving yourself the time to get your marketing strategy in order so you can increase your social media platform.

What advice would you give to other business owners thinking of raising funds through alternative finance?

Suresh: Spend time building momentum towards the campaign prior to the launch. Don’t rely on the hope that people will naturally just find out about your campaign.  Start preparing your campaign marketing at least four to six weeks before you’re ready to go live.

I’d also suggest lining up events such as breakfast briefings ahead of and during the raise. Utilise your distribution channels to keep an open line of dialogue with contacts that can help build momentum from day one of your campaign.

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