It's been another busy year for the team at Paperclip HQ! With new hires, a new office, new partnerships and a whole load of new marketplaces, it has been an exciting period of growth for the UK's leading marketplace provider. Check out our Year in Review blog and learn more about what we got up to in 2019...
New year, new faces...
With so many new university and corporate marketplaces going live during 2018, the Paperclip marketing team needed reinforcements. Step forward Tara, our new Marketing Coordinator! With a background in advertising and experience working at one of Bristol's top media agencies, we found the perfect person to help us grow our user base and create dynamic marketing campaigns.
Tara was soon joined by Lorenzo, Jess and Hannah; all of which who arrived courtesy of our internship programme. Working on content creation, copy writing, user growth and variety of different marketing campaigns, the internship programme helps 2nd and 3rd year students get real, hands-on experience in the sector whilst they work towards their degree qualification.
We also strengthened the Design team with Junior Designer Millie joining the ranks in September. After studying Graphic Communication at Plymouth University, Millie worked with our neighbours S3 Advertising before joining us on a full-time basis, just in time for our Freshers tour. During this period, Millie was joined by our new QA Manager Ivana, who is working remotely from Slovakia.
Relocating Paperclip HQ
After adding so many new faces to the team, we thought that Paperclip HQ deserved an upgrade...
Since 2016, Paperclip has been based in Cardiff's new One Central Square development. Starting off as part of Natwest's Accelerator programme, Paperclip found a perfect home in OCS and before long, we were powering the official One Central Square community marketplace!
Despite the office boasting some of the best facilities the city has to offer, the space just wasn't quite big enough to cater for our growing team.
After searching high and low for a new home, we found the perfect solution right under our nose (well, about 30 yards across the road...) Fortunately, a new space had recently become available at Millenium Plaza, our next door neighbour! With the same great location, more space and a great view of Cardiff city centre, it didn't take us long to set up shop in our new HQ.
Closing the investment round
Though it didn't take us long to find our perfect home, there wasn't much time for us to put our feet up. During the spring, Paperclip opened it's fourth round of investment. By May, we had secured funding from thirty new investors joined, ranging from doctors and fund managers to the co-founder and former CEO of Just-Eat, David Buttress.
We then embarked on our very first Seedrs campaign to top-up the existing round. We set a target of £300,000 and crossed our fingers...
After offering shares to our users, we opened up the campaign and promoted it tirelessly through our blogger network and on social media. By the end of the campaign we had raised a huge £420,000! With individuals from the USA to Qatar choosing to get involved, Paperclip now boasts a diverse group of investors with industry experience from all over the world!
Launching Version 3...
Prior to launching our Seedrs campaign, we rolled out Version 3 of the Paperclip app!
In response to the user feedback we collected during the first half of the year, our Development team set about making a slicker, easy to use platform with our user's needs at the forefront.
We merged messages and notifications under one icon for a cleaner and clearer user experience as well as sprucing up our buying and selling icons. We also added listings into a chat where you can remind your buyer/seller what item you are discussing on your messaging thread or provide further photos or item info if needed.
New uni marketplaces
We left 2018, with only a dozen university marketplaces live. By the end of the year, we had more than doubled that number. Once word began spreading of our success at Oxford, Cambridge and UCL to name but a few, more and more Student Unions reached out for us to build them their very own campus marketplace.
Joining the party this summer were Surrey and Greenwich University from the capital as well as The Students Guild in Exeter, Devon. We also took on Solent University, who will be linking up with our existing Southampton Uni marketplace, as well as Brighton University on the south coast.
After a successful Freshers period in September, we were able to double our total number of university marketplace users in little over a month. We further expanded our fleet with Westminster, Cardiff and Leeds Trinity all joining at the tail end of the year.
Schools and more...
During 2019, Paperclip also soft-launched our School marketplaces. In response to a number of requests from parents of school-age children, we created a new platform enabling school parents to buy and sell items for themselves or their children in a safe environment. With parents on average spending £250 on uniform, classroom equipment and PE kit for each of their children, there was definitely room to make back to school shopping easier on the wallet.
Since our launch, dozens of schools marketplaces have been set up are parents across the UK are already using Paperclip to help them save money and find a home for items outgrown by their children.
This autumn we also worked with eToro to launch GoodMarket - an enterprise marketplace allowing for staff at their head office in Israel to buy, sell and swap together.
The platform utilises GoodDollar to explore different ways we can reduce global wealth inequality using blockchain technology. GoodDollar plans to build a new open-source cryptocurrency to distribute money using the principles of UBI (universal basic income). The new marketplace lets users redeem their UBI credits (GoodDollars) in exchange for goods and services.
During the course of the year, we partnered with a number of brands to provide our student users with exclusive deals and discounts year round. Our partnership with StudentBeans has allowed us to offer students money off Pizza Express, Farah and more!
During the first term of the 2019/20 academic year, we also linked up with online fast-fashion retailer Rebellious to give our users further discount on sale items. We also provided students with a free Greedy Llama vegan box, a free tastecard and a National Express discount which allowed students to travel home for Christmas at a fraction of the normal price.
Giving a little back...
Here at Paperclip, we are always looking for new ways to reward our loyal users. Not only have we set about finding awesome deals and discounts for our student users, but we have also given away over 200 items completely free!
To top this off, Paperclip has been working closely with Keele SU and USW Students' Union to deliver lectures and seminars from our department heads and other entrepreneurs.
The team has also set up a partnership with the Swansea University Conservation and Ecology Society. Here Paperclip will help SUCES promote and grow their society and will be sponsoring a number of society memberships as part of our commitment to sustainability for 2020.
2020 and beyond...
Without giving too much away, we plan on making 2020 a big one.
We plan to build on our success in 2019 and capture a 70% market share of UK universities whilst growing our user base and adding more exciting deals and discounts for students.
We also have a number of platform enhancements planned, with a soon-to-be-released payment gateway on the horizon. 2020 will also be the year our university marketplace users will be able to access local lettings and jobs on their platforms.
Not only this, but we will shortly be announcing a number of new commercial partnerships as well as our long-awaited expansion overseas...
Make sure you follow Paperclip on Facebook for all the latest developments throughout the new year.