Sharesies co-founder on the roller coaster of raising capital

Cash flow is essential for all businesses, whether they’re just starting out or in a growth phase. And when a business needs to raise capital, some choose to apply for a bank loan, while others pitch to investors. Investing platform Sharesies chose the latter, and its founders continue to raise money through investors.

Sharesies Co-Founder Brooke Roberts, who formerly worked for Kiwibank and is a Kiwibank business customer, sat down with us to share her insights and tips on the roller coaster of raising capital.

How it all started

Brooke Roberts

Brooke Roberts is one of six original founders of Sharesies. Ever since Brooke and her co-founders won a $20,000 Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator Grant for Sharesies in 2017, the business has gone from strength to strength. Sharesies has continued to raise capital at each stage of growth by pitching to investors and bringing on new shareholders.

Even though Sharesies might look like an overnight success, Brooke and her co-founders have worked relentlessly on their vision for the company and gave up income to create it.

“We did a lot of research for six to nine months before the product started to be built and we weren’t getting paid,” Brooke said.

But their hard work paid off and their first major capital raise exceeded expectations. “For our first capital raise, we ended up getting double what we’d asked for,” she said.

These days the co-founders look to raise capital when required from global venture capital firms and individuals such as Icehouse Ventures, Amplo and Rahul Mehta.

So, how did they find their investors?

How Sharesies found investors

“There's no database of eligible investors and there’s a lot of legal criteria around who can invest, so we started building connections, conversations and awareness around networks that invest,” she said.

“Sometimes there are opportunities where a whole network of investors are pulled together and you can pitch to them. There were a range of investors who believed in us from the beginning.

“At first it was a mix of family and friends and those who met the eligible investor criteria, as well as angel investors. Our first large scale investor came to us after hearing us talk on a podcast, and some others reached out too.”

Rejection has been a big part of our journey, but I’ve been told by those that didn’t invest, that they wish they had.”
Brooke Roberts, Sharesies Co-Founder

Brooke's top tips for pitching

  • Ultimately investors want to invest, so make sure they understand your vision, where it’s going and why your business will be successful.
  • Help the investors see your passion and commitment. They're investing in the founding team, and they need to be convinced that you’ll stick with it when times get tough.
  • Articulate the business model and long-term strategy that will generate revenue. This means knowing your business model inside out. Be ready to be challenged on your financial assumptions.
  • Know why you want that investor as a shareholder. What are their values as an investor? Are they aligned with your purpose and vision? Are they of sound reputation? Will you be able to work with them? What can they contribute by being part of your company, beyond the financial? For example, do they know your market or have great networks? Might they consider investing in subsequent capital raises?
  • Some investors just might not be interested, and you will face rejection, so you’ve got to be up for that. When that happens, just take on the feedback.

When to raise capital

“Some advice I was given was to only raise what you need to get to your next phase,” said Brooke.

“We've been raising growth capital and we always raise just the amount we need. For instance, during Covid we raised a few times because we required capital to support our growth and the changing market dynamics at that time.”

Brooke's biggest lessons learned

  • No matter what stage you’re at or how many raises you’ve done, it’s always a roller coaster and it’s time intensive.
  • Make sure you remember to always interview the investor. And that you are comfortable with them becoming a shareholder.
  • It’s important to have your motivation and values aligned.
  • It’s great to get support from experts, even if it’s talking to lawyers, investment bankers or other people who have done it before.
  • You might get knocked down, but another door opens.

“Rejection has been a big part of our journey and sometime later I’ve been told by those that didn’t invest, that they wish they’d invested,” said Brooke

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