Crowdfunding's got another success story to shout about today after JustPark, the BMW-backed parking app, closed the door on its massive crowdfunding pitch.
The startup raised £3.7m, the biggest round of equity crowdfunding for a tech startup in the UK ever, and the maximum permitted under EU regulations. ‘We were literally saying no to cheques for hundreds of thousands, even a million pounds, on the closing day,’ its founder Anthony Eskinazi told MT.
He launched the business, previously known as Parkatmyhouse, way back in 2006, in a bid to match people with empty parking spaces with drivers desperate for somewhere to park their car. Things really took off for it in 2011 though, when it attracted investment from BMW i Ventures, the carmaker’s VC arm. Last year it got further investment from Index Ventures and launched the first dashboard version of the app, in BMW’s minis.
The startup's come to be seen as one of Britain's best examples of the 'sharing economy', the techie trend that's spawned the likes of Uber and Airbnb. So much so in fact that Alex Stephany, who Eskinazi brought in to be CEO, has penned a book on the topic.
Eskinazi, who is now 'head of growth', says the relationship with BMW, combined with the strength of the brand and the scale of the problem solved by the app was ‘the perfect cocktail mix of everything you could want’ for a successful crowdfunding campaign.
The pitch initially set out to raise just £1m but reached that in just four days. The £3.7m it’s now raised comes from more than 2,900 investors, who each put in an average of £1,200. It values the company at just shy of £24m.
JustPark currently has 30 staff and Eskinazi says it is now recruiting another 20, as well as focusing on developing the product and marketing strategy, and launching new partnerships.
‘Having this warchest will allow us to execute a number of ideas and visions we’ve had over the last few years,’ he says. ‘We’ve got a long way to go. It’s not day one, but it kind of feels like it could be.‘