When we started Patchwork we didn’t do it alone. We did it with help from colleagues, friends and family. Which is what Patchwork is all about so it felt totally natural and right. And it now feels right to be helping others do the same with a Patchwork New Business Shower.
Back then, when I needed to raise funds, I did it through an off-line, real world crowdfund. This money came from people who were professional peers. They were people who loved and supported the idea of Patchwork, had a bit of money in the bank getting no interest and were happy to invest in exchange for equity in the business. Using the EIS scheme to invest was reassuring as their money was in part protected by the government and their investment could be offset in their tax bill.
Patchwork didn’t exist at that point (obviously) so the evening I presented my idea to a room of 35 potential investors. I had a site mock up, a pitch deck and a breakdown of how the money we needed to be raised would be used. I literally created a ‘patchwork’ of images to represent everything including a front end and back end developer (complete with cheeky bum pic).
At the time the visualisation was just for fun. Patchwork is not a crowdfunding platform like Seedrs or CrowdCube. Those platforms are designed for people to invest funds in exchange for equity. Patchwork was and is designed to enable people to collectively contribute towards gifts and experiences to celebrate special occasions. However, I did use the Patchwork principle to bring to life my new business dream visually for everyone to see. This helped me to raise funds and in doing so helped me prove the power of the Patchwork concept in practice.
Putting our principles in to practice
Fast forward a few months (ok a lot of months) and we were nearly ready to launch. We had found a studio space in Brockley. It was a shop that had been empty for 8 months, was super cheap rent (at the time) and getting the keys coincided with my birthday. So of course we decided to have a party.
Whilst most of my friends and family were not in a position to be official investors in Patchwork they were all super supportive, excited for our imminent launch and really wanted to do whatever they could to help. So when people started asking what I wanted for my birthday, instead of suggesting a few books and my favourite body lotion, I put together a plan that again allowed us to put our Patchwork principles into practice.
The site wasn’t quite ready in advance. And at the time it was designed only to allow people to contribute cash gifts. But in a weird premonition of how Patchwork would evolve I suggested people do one of three things.
- Buy booze for my birthday/business party
- Bring something useful for our new office – some stolen stationery, unwanted crockery, a second hand printer or spare chair.
- Offer their time and or skills to help paint or put up shelves in the studio or bring a dish or promise to DJ at the launch party.
A very Patchwork party
Everyone came to my birthday / new business party. But they didn’t just attend. They were active participants in the launch of our company! Our whole office was kitted out with second hand stuff gifted by friends, family and our new Brockley neighbours.
We had Will from the Mystery Jets sing with our sister Sophie, powered by bikes borrowed from our friend Colin at Electric Pedals. And also Ben from Power The Fight DJ, Alice and Julie to help make our signage and huge shapes for the window. Then Janie from Baked Salt making amazing food and Naomi came to take photos of the evening.
In 2015 we launched Patchwork with the ability not just to gift cash but to contribute time and skills, and today the site is being used not just to organise and fund DIY weddings, birthday parties and baby showers, but since lockdown we’ve seen a new idea emerging… new business SHOWERS!
Of course to us it’s an old idea. It’s THE idea that got us started.
Celebrate and support with Patchwork
It’s a story we’ve told but until now it’s not an idea we’ve promoted. But the current global pandemic has changed things. Whether it’s redundancies causing people to find alternative careers or furlough giving people the time and space to dream about starting something new. We’re seeing more people starting new businesses from their kitchen tables and of course we’re here to help!
Patchwork is not and will never be about equity fundraising from strangers. We recommend Seedrs for people looking to raise serious funds with all the legals tied up. We’re here to do what we do best – to help friends, families, communities and networks to come together to celebrate and support each other by gifting their cash, time and skills.
Want your own new business shower?
If you’ve got an idea for a business but need some help taking those first steps. Patchwork is the perfect way to share your idea with your community and show them the ways they can help. Because with Patchwork you can share ideas for things people can fund, make and do. It means everyone can contribute in some small way – and together make something amazing happen!
You might ask people to contribute money towards a training course, you might need specific advice from an expert, a helping hand with some DIY or some secondhand stuff! Whatever you need, you can create a totally personalised patchwork from scratch. Then share it with your community to start receiving funds, offers of help and practical support. If you’re looking for inspiration we’ve even got some readymade templates for you to customise. Just head to our New Business Shower collection page.
So that’s it. If you’re not planning a wedding or baby shower but are thinking about starting a brand new baby business, we’re here to help make it happen – with a little help from your friends. If you need any reassurance that it can work, look no further than our story. We are the proof! It’s how we got where we are and how we’re now able to help you too.
Big love and power to you. Liv and Team Patchwork.
Questions? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org