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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
*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.
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.
We will be adding to our team, adding some great new features to the platform and unveiling something very special in the coming weeks.
To our users, partners, clients and staff - thank you and here's to a successful 2019.