All Posts in Perspective

August 27, 2020 - No Comments!

The top 20 items students need to add to their uni shopping list

The top five must-haves alone will set parents back £1,897 in the first term...

As students around the UK start getting ready for university life, the race is on to get all the must-have items ready for beginning of the year. The Paperclip team reveal the top 20 most sought-after items ahead of the September term.

The top five most in-demand student items – including bikes, a smartphone and laptop, cost on average £605 via Paperclip. While if parents are buying brand new, these same five items would cost a significantly higher £1,897.*

On average, the total cost of buying all of our 20 items second-hand on our online marketplace comes in at around £1,695.

Speaking about our findings, our new CCO Keith Parkman said: “The first term of university can be incredibly expensive for families, particularly if you’re adding a new laptop in to the mix.

“However, the first five items on this list alone cost more brand-new than all 20 items if bought second-hand on Paperclip, so it really goes to show how shopping around on platforms like ours can make all the difference to student spending, particularly when it comes to tech.”

To help families tick off the necessities, we have released the top 20 most searched items ahead of the first term in September...

The top 20 most wanted items are:

1.Phone
2. Textbooks
3. Bike
4. Clothes
5. Laptop / Macbook
6. Headphones
7. Games console
8. Chair
9. Kitchenware
10. Desk

11. iPad / Tablet
12. TV
13. Monitor
14. Lamp
15. Mirror
16. Duvet
17. Camera
18. Fridge
19. Printer
20. Weights

On the latest trends, Keith added: “Life as we know it has changed significantly in the last few months, and this year’s university students will be experiencing something entirely new. That being said, we are still seeing a huge number of searches for household items like kettles, duvets and lamps so it very much looks as though prospective students are looking forward to venturing out on their own for the first time. 

kettle, items
This Stagg kettle has been viewed over 400 times on the KCLSU marketplace!

“One thing that we have seen as a result of the pandemic is an incredibly high demand for bikes, which are now in the number three spot – up from 8th in 2019. Although there are a handful of universities that we’ve come to associate with cycling, it’s amazing to see how many students all over the UK are now planning to bike around rather than drive or get public transport."

This Intense 5.5 FRO was recently sold for less than half the RRP on our Greenwich SU marketplace back in June

With so many items added every day to our uni marketplaces, new students can be sure to find what they need for starting the next chapter of their lives. Students can also find our pick of the bunch in the 'Featured items' section at the top of our platform's homepage.

Heading to university this September? Read about our free Digital Welcome Pack for students or sign-up here...

*Paperclip uses its marketplace data to report on consumer behaviour and trends in student spending, including the most popular items, searches and average spend at key points throughout the academic year.

Published by: Paperclip HQ in Musings, Perspective, Trades

December 30, 2019 - No Comments!

Paperclip Year in Review: 2019

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.

Paperclip, year, 2020
Lorenzo & Tara on their first day at HQ

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.

Paperclip, V3, year, 2020
Version 3 is go!

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.

year, Paperclip, Solent
The Solent Brand Ambassador squad at Freshers' 2019

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.

GoodDollar, year, 2010, GoodMarket
GoodMarket in action

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. 

New partnerships!

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.

Published by: Paperclip HQ in News, Perspective

October 7, 2019 - No Comments!

Paperclip hit up #Freshers2019

It's that time of year again...

It seems like only yesterday that the team at HQ were packing their bags for our very first Fresher's event last year at Brunel Union.

After a busy summer of marketing meetings, presentations, design briefs and Brand Ambassador interviews; our new promo teams were assembled and Paperclip was finally ready for Freshers' 2019.

Not to break with tradition - we started this year's tour at Brunel University in Uxbridge. Armed with our new banners, t-shirts, interactive games and a whole host of new deals and discounts for students, we began Operation: Freshers.

Despite Brunel being one of the smaller universities we service, the Freshers' Fayre was bustling. Within minutes of the doors being opened, hundreds of new students signing up to their very own campus marketplace and entering our exclusive Ticketmaster competition.

Paperclip, Freshers, Brunel
Becky, Kiera and new recruit Ayesha at the Brunel Freshers' Fayre

We continued our tour with stops at Cardiff Metropolitan, Aberystwyth and Exeter Guild of Students before descending on the capital to promote our uni marketplaces to over 50,000 students!

London calling...

After attending two more busy Freshers' events at Queen Mary and Royal Holloway, our team headed to south of the river to launch the Greenwich SU marketplace!

A last minute addition to the tour, the team back at HQ worked tirelessly to ensure that the new marketplace was ready for a September launch. With students now able to claim exclusive deals and discounts at Amazon, Brushbox and more, it wasn't long until we had Greenwich students signing up in their hundreds.

This section of the tour ended with stops at old favourites UCL and King's College London - our very first university marketplaces!

The show must go on...

Despite some horse voices and a few casualties from the dreaded Freshers' flu, our team marched on to more busy Freshers' events at Keele, Surrey, Sheffield and Liverpool John Moors University.

The team also enjoyed two successful Fridays on the south coast, starting with our most recent acquisition, Solent SU. Full to capacity, the Solent Fresher's Fayre provided us with an excellent opportunity for us to launch their new marketplace and familiarise students with the new platform.

freshers, paperclip, solent
Our new Solent Brand Ambassador team (l-r): Dani, Nicola and Sarah

The team at Solent SU opted to merge their marketplace with the existing SUSU market; the Paperclip platform serving students their neighbours at Southampton University. This gives users access to items for sale at both universities whilst still giving them all the benefits they would enjoy otherwise.

Over the course of the two days, thousands of new students signed up to their respective platforms and our new users began buying, selling and swapping straight away!

Our tour hasn't stopped just yet. This week our COO Alan will be heading to the prestigious Cambridge University for the re-launch of the CUSU marketplace. Make sure you follow @PaperclipHQ on Twitter for all the updates on the big day.

We're still crowdfunding!

As you may have seen already - Paperclip is now funded! However, we are still live on Seedrs for another week so there's still time to be a part of one the UK's leading startups!

Approved by Seedrs. Capital at risk.

Published by: Paperclip HQ in News, Perspective

December 27, 2018 - No Comments!

Paperclip Year in Review: 2018

It's been another exciting year here at Paperclip HQ...

The award-winning marketplace provider

Back in the Spring, the team were delighted to hear that Paperclip, along with some other great businesses in the region, had been shortlisted for a coveted Cardiff Life Award. A few weeks later, we headed to Cardiff City Hall where, to our surprise, we took the gold!

As the awards season rolled on, we were shortlisted for a South Wales Business Award, a Wales Startup Award and nominated for two WalesOnline Digital Awards. Though we finished runner-up in the latter, we had a great time networking with local business leaders, community organisers and even some celebs too!

Nigel Owens presents Sebastiano, Ana, Rich and Laurence with the Cardiff Life Award

And it didn't stop there, earlier this month we also received confirmation from AI Global Media that we had been named this year's SME News Business Elite's Leading Digital Trading Company of the Year UK.

Stepping into Higher Education

By far our most exciting news is that we have partnered with not one, not two but twenty different UK universities. Starting with University College London, we were able to build on our success to deliver bespoke marketplace for students at Brunel, King's College and five other London universities. Over the summer, we were able to add both Oxford and Cambridge SUs to our roster before the big launch at the start of the 2018/19 academic year.

News of our unique marketplace solution spread rapidly, and before long, we were launching online student markets from across the country, from Keele SU in the north of England to Southampton SU on the south coast.

Student deals

More than just a platform for swapping old textbooks, we wanted our student marketplaces to help in day-to-day university life. We spent the summer months reaching out to a number of great brands, to offer our users a heap of exclusive deals and discounts. Not only do students get the opportunity to earn cash when they add their first item, but they also qualify for a free return coach journey from our friends at Snap.

At selected universities, we also offer students a free JustEat voucher as well as a free two month trial with tastecard.

Not only this, but  we were able to give out tickets to the X-Factor Live Final at the SSE Wembely Arena, London as prizes for new users.

Competiton winners Rhianne and Al

Brand Ambassador Rhianne and competition winner Alice at the X-Factor Live Final

Our marketplaces also champion local businesses and university societies, providing them with a space to showcase their own deals, discounts and student events.

Growing the team

With so much going on, we decided that we had to strengthen our team...

Back in August, we welcomed our Graduate Marketing Officer Justin to the team. Justin, who has a degree in Business and Marketing, joined us from nearby Swansea University, where he had been working with us to promote the Swansea School of Management marketplace throughout the previous academic year.

We quickly put the new hire to work, and over the last few months, Justin has been travelling up and down the country running student outreach and promo days at our client campuses. Focusing on growing our user base, Justin has also been spreading the good word about our student deals and collecting valuable user feedback as continue to improve our platforms.

We also had the pleasure of welcoming two interns from the European Student Placement Agency (ESPA). Our first was Jacob from Spain, who worked closely with Laurence and Ana on university marketing campaigns. He was quickly followed by Sebastiano from Italy who worked on sales, marketing and prospecting new universities for us to reach out to. Speaking eight languages between them, both interns hit the ground running and surpassed all expectations during their brief spell with us.

Working on campus

With so many universities on board and so little time to promote the marketplaces on campus, we began the mother of all recruitment campaigns...

Over the Summer months, Laurence and Justin set about building a team of Student Brand Ambassadors at every client university. Looking for fun, outgoing and enthusiastic students, we began assembling our squads in time for a chaotic Fresher's schedule.

In the end, we weren't disappointed. A combination of hard work and organisation meant we were able to onboard thousands of students to our marketplaces and get them to take advantage of our exclusive deals and discounts.

Our Ambassadors Lucy and Madiyyah at Queen Mary SU

As the term progressed, hundreds of items were being uploaded to each marketplace and we began to see real organic growth on our platforms.

Also, utilising his connections from his days at Swansea University, Justin was able to spearhead a project to take on a number of student interns. The students are all studying Business, Leadership and Marketing and their work with us will compliment their modules at uni. The interns will work on generating valuable user feedback and growing the existing SoM marketplace.

Creating Paperclip Version 3

It's been a busy year for our Design and Development teams too!

Throughout 2018, we have been quietly working on creating a third version of the marketplace. With all the same great features as versions gone by, we have been working on a faster, more responsive experience more suited to the end user. Taking note of user feedback, we were able to provide a smarter marketplace available on iOS, Android and desktop.

Read all about it...

Not only have Paperclip been featured in national newspaper the Daily Express, but we also found our way onto the WalesOnline Tech 35 companies to watch!

We have also been featured on The Wallet Moth, Savvy Dad and our founders Rich and Alan, made it onto the WalesOnline 35 under 35!

*NB: A huge thank-you to our friends Lynsey and Beth at FD Comms who have worked tirelessly to help raise our profile over the last few month and years.

Money matters

It has been another exciting year in terms of investment and adding new faces to our board.

Back in February, Paperclip completed our third round of funding. This was led by existing investor the Development Bank of Wales, with additional funding from a consortium of angels including GoCompare founder Hayley Parsons, the ex-CFO of the Financial Times John Davis, and Tim Ward, who was part of the team that sold Friends Reunited to ITV back in 2015.

In November, we launched round four. With a stronger platform and a more experienced team, we have been able to secure funding from investors based all over the globe. We expect to close the round in early 2019, stay tuned for further announcements...

2019 and beyond!

It's been a busy year at Paperclip HQ; thousands of new users, dozens of partnerships and scores of new hires. But as we well know, time stops for no app.

After a well-deserved Christmas break, the next few months will be focused on closing our current investment round and growing our user base, both on the global marketplace and on our university marketplaces.  Read more

Published by: Paperclip HQ in General musings, News, Perspective

November 19, 2018 - No Comments!

Paperclip go to Africa!

Last week our CEO Rich returned from a 3,000 mile round trip to the East coast of Tunisia. Rich was invited to speak at the Hammamet Conference 2018: a series of meetings to establish a working group for future collaboration between UK and North Africa.

The conference was made up of entrepreneurs, academic researchers and key policy makers to overcome key challenges such as climate change and raising the profile of business in the region.

Rich was tasked with giving two talks on behalf of the British Council, representing the entrepreneurs of Great Britain to forge ties with leaders from North African countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Libya, Algeria and Tunisia.

The first was an overview of 'What our generation knows that the older generation does not - and how to bridge that gap' with a focus on technology-driven entrepreneurship.

hammamet, africa, tunisia, paperclip

Mic check, one, two...

Rich spoke about the theme of Accountability: how #metoo has shaped the world for the better, along with the mental health and growing a tech business in 2018.

The second was on 'Sustainable futures': how can technology help address the challenge of finite resources and climate change through green business and environmental action. Both talks were well attended, with visitors flying in from every continent to hear the talks.

Speaking after the event, Rich added "Paperclip marketplaces can help address the challenges of sustainability on a micro, macro, and global scale; the mission is to prevent unwanted belongings ending up in the landfill at all costs. This is by providing a social inventory platform for people, organisations, and governments to share resources that would otherwise be discarded or left unused."

hammemet, africa, tunisia, paperclip

Spot the 'Clip

Paperclip have been invited to speak at future events in Libya and Egypt in the coming months. The team look forward to championing local business and drawing attention to important cross-boarder issues.

Want more updates from Paperclip HQ? Follow us on Twitter.

Published by: Paperclip HQ in News, Perspective

August 30, 2018 - No Comments!

The real cost of university

Exploring the real cost of attending university in 2018

Does going to university in 2018 have to break the bank?

The average three year degree will cost a student £140,000; enough for a house deposit, a brand new BMW, a trip around the world for a year, a jet ski, and still have enough left over for a rainy day!

So how does a degree end up costing a student so much?

Read more

Published by: Paperclip HQ in Musings, Perspective

July 11, 2018 - No Comments!

Growing the One Central Square community with Paperclip

Teaming up with OCS

It's been yet another busy week at PaperclipHQ! We have been hard at work creating more beautiful, bespoke marketplaces for our corporate and university clients.

Last Tuesday, however, we began our marketing campaign for an existing client: One Central Square.

Back in 2016, the Paperclip team were fortunate enough to snag office space in Cardiff's most prestigious development sites. One Central Square is located in the heart of the Welsh capital and caters for a number of companies both big and small.

What's different to other office spaces in the city, is OCS' commitment to building an active, supportive business community within its four walls. OCS explain "The office is more than just a place to work, it is a community that serves to ensure that the professional services staff that reside there are as content as possible."

Paperclip reached out to OCS last year and have always been keen to help OCS further develop relationships amongst tenants. With so many businesses now looking to boost employee satisfaction and retention by offering staff perks, this was the perfect opportunity to work together.

After a quick catch-up with the OCS management team, we pitched the idea of a local marketplace, just for staff and the tenants of the building.

Before long, the Development team were spinning up another new marketplace.

Building the community

Speaking about the new partnership, our CEO Rich said "I'm delighted to provide the most prestigious office building in Wales with their very own marketplace. We have thoroughly tested it with tenants such as MotoNovo and we are all very excited to go live. It's a testament to the building management that they've worked so closely with us on this, and aligns well with their vision of One Central Square becoming more than just an office, but a thriving community."

one central square, app, ocs, marketplace, Cardiff, corporate, Paperclip

The OCS marketplace

The Marketing and Design teams have been working on a print and social campaign to spread the word about the platform and it hasn't taken long for tenants to start buying, selling and swapping.

Our CMO, Laurence added "This has been a really rewarding project. Not only have we delivered a marketplace to one of the city's most prestigious developments, but we are helping build a business community too! The Development, Marketing and Design teams have really enjoyed working with One Central Square and are looking forward to getting more users and more great items on the platform."

Would your business benefit from a staff marketplace? Get in touch here.

Published by: Paperclip HQ in General musings, News, Perspective

December 30, 2017 - No Comments!

Year in Review: 2017

2017 has been a huge year for everyone at Paperclip. New staff, new investors, new partnership and new apps - it's all been kicking off at Paperclip HQ!

New Year, new faces...

Starting the year with just three full-time staff working in a flat, the Paperclip team has grown to eleven full-time members. We were delighted to take on new developers, communications and design staff. Not only that, but nine of our eleven 'Clips are now based in our new Cardiff city centre office at One Central Square!

year, buy, swap, sell, team, review, 2017

Paperclip XI squad photo 2017 (more to follow...)

Just over a year ago we fought off fierce competition to secure a spot at some of Cardiff's most desirable office space. By January we were all moved in to our beautiful working space. Modern, spacious and less than a minute from the Millennium Stadium in the heart of the Welsh capital, our new office couldn't be better!

We were also able to to take on two full-time members of staff for our office in Brno, Czech Republic. With two new members of staff expected to join next month, the Paperclip family will grow to a whopping thirteen.

Cash in the bank

During 2017, Paperclip were fortunate enough to secure substantial investment from a number of different sources. After months of hard work, the team managed to raise enough to market the application, take on new staff and further develop the marketplace. Notable investors in 2017 include; Hayley Parsons, CEO and founder of GoCompare.com, and Tim Ward, the creator of Friends Reunited.

We also made some changes to at boardroom level. Back in January, Paperclip appointed the ex-CFO of the Financial Times and Yell.com as our chairman. Needless to say, we were delighted to have someone with such a wealth of experience on board and we're looking forward to many years of success together.

Opening up the marketplace

Not only this, but we somehow found time to design, build and release our web version.

The web platform provides quick, easy access to the Paperclip marketplace direct to your desktop. With a fifth of adults in the UK currently without a smartphone, we knew that there were those who could benefit from the marketplace who simply did not have access to it before.

We were also able to release Version 2.0 of our app for iPhone and Android. With a brand new interface and host of new features, we were really excited to get V2.0 tested and available for users worldwide.

You can download Paperclip Version 2.0 for iPhone here and Android here.

Partnerclips

After months of late nights and early mornings, Paperclip managed to secure lucrative partnerships with Dell EMC and Student Money Saver. We also partnered up with the popular MoneyMagpie website to deliver a marketplace for their users as well as great competitions and giveaways. Not only this, but we built a strong pipeline for 2018 in which we plan to take up even more partnerships and develop our brand further.

 

Making headlines

All this action has not gone unnoticed. Throughout the course of year, we have been featured in the Guardian, the Sun, and the Daily Mail, alongside online publications such as BQ Live and altCardiff (check out our Newspaper 'Clippings article here).

2018 and beyond...

2017, buy, swap, sell, app, marketplace, year

Team Paperclip & friends celebrate at our end of year bash

Not only are we adding to our existing team in January, but we will be developing our groups function and finalising our partnership agreements with some great companies at home and abroad.

With new features, new staff and new partnerships on the horizon, 2018 promises to be another big year for Paperclip...

Published by: Paperclip HQ in News, Perspective

June 30, 2016 - No Comments!

3 ways to stay sane when starting-up

Starting-up - we've been there! Earlier this year we closed our seed round. However, having 21 different investors has resulted in a lot of delays with the paperwork.

As such, the roller coaster of emotions for 2016 has looked like this;

  • January: optimism - funding talks go well
  • February: joy - advanced talks, agreement in principle
  • March: jubiliation but fear - investment agreed, paperwork actioned
  • April: paperwork being drafted - minor agitation
  • May: paperwork delayed due to slight error in initial 50-page draft investor agreements - bouts of depression
  • June: momentary joy, then absolute depression - paperwork delayed
  • July: ???? - but the outlook is RAGE [5th August, follow-up] The day we received the cash was the happiest day of my life. It made everything above totally worth it. 10/10 would ride emotional roller-coaster again.

Note: worth mentioning that during the above timeline, our competitors managed to merge and raise a further $100m USD while we were still haggling over £100k GBP...this didn't help.

Obviously it's great that we've closed our round, but until the funds actually arrive it still feels like the rug can be pulled from beneath us. Even though it's unlikely, it's still horrible.

Digging deeper...

Depression in startups is a real thing, and only recently starting to gain more attention as a serious issue - 30% of startup founders report feeling depression - and it's totally understandable; you've put yourself on the line, you've borrowed money from all of your friends and family, you've gone 'out there' with your idea and it feels like it's all on you to make it happen. Every day that you're delayed, your competitors gain ground on you.

So what can one do to keep sane during these dark times?

Let's roll:

  1. Startup Housekeeping: during this downtime, budget has obviously been constrained. However, Alan and I took this time to both review our current v1.0 for 'quick fixes' and UX breaks - and also plan v2.0 with our legendary designer, Steve. We also updated the website a little bit to make us look less like the startup noobs that we then were (and still are in the grand scheme of things). All of this was completely free to do, and having spent so many months focusing on whether things actually worked it was nice to turn our attention to making things work well. It also got us all excited for our v2.0 release and the rest of our runway.
  2. Scrappy User Acquisition and Marketing:

    being without a budget doesn't mean we haven't been able to draw users to the app, in fact it has spurred on an entrepreneurial instinct that we haven't had since university. We took the time to build our social media identity, speaking directly with existing users, and focusing on retention campaigns - after all, it's cheaper to retain a user than acquire one. During this time we actually stumbled upon a user acquisition strategy that has yielded some amazing results and now become one of our primary user acquisition strategies - we'll share it in due course.

  3. Work on yourself: everyone has goals; learn to play the piano, finish off my online course in iOS development, get completely fluent in speaking French are just some of mine. Having some downtime is the perfect time to work on yourself and do all the things that you were putting off! Such endeavors have benefits in so many ways; distracting you from your own impatience, replacing all of those 'rewarding feelings' that you were feeding off in the early MVP days when progress was coming thick and fast (as an aside, I reckon the feeling of accomplishing so much in a short space of time actually becomes addictive, which further compounds the depression when a slowdown inevitably does arrive - but this could be absolute BS as I'm just speculating here. But you gotta speculate to accumulate right? Is that saying even relevant here? I digress). Re-kindling my love for the gym, and hitting up Tinder are things that have personally helped me through tough times; if everything goes to hell, at least I'll have become a hench womanizer in lieu of being a successful CEO. Plus, everyone loves exercise-induced endorphins... 😉

So there you go, 3 ways to keep sane during the dark times!

Good luck!

Rich

Published by: Rich Woolley in Musings, Perspective

April 29, 2016 - 1 comment.

Juggling work and Paperclip

I heard a quote once that has stuck with me:

“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and idea-graveyarddreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step.”

What they don’t tell you though is how hard and long that first step really is. You have some people who can take that step with confidence and determination, like Rich who founded Paperclip. Then you have those who just never follow through on their ideas or dreams, who kick themselves when they see their idea being advertised somewhere. Finally, there is me, who is smack in the middle. It took me 2 years of little painful shuffles to finally take that first step.

When Rich first told me about the idea of Paperclip I was in my second year of my graduate scheme, trying to blag my way through being a management consultant (only skill you need when being a consultant). At this time Rich had built up a team of around 6 people following a successful Google Start up pitch, my only role at this point was a friendly advisory position. Over this advisory time most of my recommendations were to get rid of the others (apart from Ziad who is our other legendary co-founder) in a true consultancy fashion. This resulted in the team being severely depleted so I started to help out on more of the BAU ‘Business as usual’ tasks (can’t shift the consultancy lingo) but unlike Rich I was having to do this whilst also trying to smash my grad scheme.


 

Sorry for that random spiel, I’m finally getting to the point of this blog which is to talk about how I managed to juggle my day job and Paperclip commitments before I took the big step.  The truth is, it wasn’t actually as hard as you might think but that’s because of a few key points which helped massively:

  1. I had a great employer

Most management consultancy are cold, ruthless environments who drain every last bit of energy out of you, resulting in you never having a chance to pursue outside ideas (I have nothing to base this on but sounds good for the story).

This is where I was lucky because although the management consultancy I worked for is one of the biggest companies in the UK (a FTSE 250 company) it prides itself on promoting a strong work life balance. This meant 90% of the time I would be finished work by 6, which gave me time to work in the evening. I’d also sometimes use the train in the morning to do work but in reality id be asleep 5 mins into my journey.

Working in Google Campus after a long day at work

Working in Google Campus after a long day at work

I was also open with my line manager who knew about Paperclip and embraced it provided that it didn’t impact my day job and that I only worked on it in my own time. Interesting point here, if you do any external work on company property, they can claim IP rights over it.

  1. I have great/patient co-founders

Everyone hates that person who doesn’t pull their weight and at times that was me - sometimes my actual job took priority!

Zee and Rich having a wet t-shirt comp at the Xmas party

Zee and Rich having a wet t-shirt comp at the Xmas party

It must have driven Rich and Zee crazy as they were both full time. However, they were very understanding and accepted that I had a day job as well. It’s always difficult when you have a mix of part time and full time founders but we managed to make it work, which is down to Rich and Zee’s flexibility.

My advice here is to just be honest with your co-founders, it is better to say you have no time to do something then to try and do it half-arsed whilst half asleep.

 

 

  1. I bought extra holiday

Another perk of my job was that I could buy up to 15 days a year holiday, which would leave me with 40 days a year, which is basically 3 months. This was needed for those times when after work or weekend work wouldn’t be enough such as the time I was on TV and the radio (yeah I’ve done both... baller!).

  1. I made time for myself

You always read something like this in advice articles and I use to hate it and think ‘what a load of bullsh#t’ but it’s so true!

We have all had those days at work where everything has gone wrong and all you want to do is crawl into bed and die. Now, imagine having to go home after that day to grind out 3-4 hours of work, which you don’t even get paid for! It does take its toll on you and you start to lose motivation, which is when it can all spiral out of control.

Luckily, this rarely happened to me, which I think is due to being a very chilled-out person and because I would always make sure I had time away from Paperclip and work. Throughout the 2 years I made sure that I still played football, went to the gym, played golf, saw friends/family, and had holidays. The last thing I wanted to do was to resent working either on my day job or Paperclip, the distractions helped me re-focus and continue with determination.

Champions

Champions

  1. I outsourced work

I read a lot about co-founders wanting to be involved in every aspect of work… seriously? You need to chill out, it’s not healthy!

We all have our roles in the company and if you hire people or companies its because they are good at what they do and you need to trust them. We outsourced all of our development and elements of our marketing and user acquisition campaigns. We had full control of the direction and process but rather than babysitting them through every task we would let them get on with it, which freed up our time to do other things, like my actual day job.

Our Swansea Interns

Our Swansea Interns

I’m not saying the all-seeing all-doing founder approach is wrong but you need to find the right balance that fits your circumstance.


 

Well, there you have it, my first blog and piece of advice I have ever given. The main point which is probably hidden in the waffle of a blog and terrible grammar is that you don’t have to be an all or nothing person to follow through on your ideas.

Thanks for reading.

Alan

Published by: alan in Features, Musings, News, Perspective