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Christmas might be a time for giving, but is it the right time for investing?  The view is often that nobody wants to run an equity crowdfunding campaign over the Christmas holidays, because who’s going to invest when they are feeling full of turkey and mince pies and chocolates and…? I also think it’s a psychological thing – everyone wants to close their investment round well before the end of the year. 

It is worth remembering that the New Year is a mental construct – it doesn’t reallyexist. And importantly during the holiday season investors finally have some time on their hands. So, for the entrepreneur that’s willing to work for it, there is liquidity to be had. I reviewed the data on crowdfunding data programme, TAB, and amazingly it appears that December was the most funded month in the crowdfunding sector in 2017. In total, £123m was pledged across 199 campaigns, versus January, February and May of the same year, each of which experienced just over £40m in pledges.

So, why is December such a good time for receiving from investors?

Investors have more time

As I mentioned above, investors have more free time in December. Pre-Internet, the investment community would shut down over the summer months and Christmas, but that’s simply not true anymore.

Bonuses are available

Not everyone wants to spend their bonus on presents and parties! Bonuses are paid at many different times of the year, but Christmas is the most common. Bankers typically get their bonuses in January, so that’s typically considered a more liquid month for traditional investing. However, crowdfunding appeals to retail investors – ‘everyday’ people who are far more likely to get a bonus before they finish work for the year.

Closing off a funding round before the New Year

As mentioned earlier in the article, many entrepreneurs want to close their funding round before the end of the year – they hustle harder so they’re not campaigning over the holidays. Given the amount of liquidity there seems to be over the Christmas period, I would take advantage of this and plan activity for the week between Christmas and New Year – a time when plenty of investors will be browsing, but not many entrepreneurs will be active online.

Using up allowances

Many people like to take the time during the holidays to file their tax return before the end of January deadline. Often this is the first time an investor realises how much EIS or SEIS tax relief allowance they have left to use. I know many investors who will invest as much as their income tax relief allows them to!

The psychological ‘holiday effect’

This article in Psychology Todaytalks about how stock markets often experience the “holiday effect”, which causes them to be more optimistic about the state of the market due to their mood. A study by George Marrett and A. C. Worthington concluded that investors are more likely to be in a buying state of mind due to “high spirits” and “holiday euphoria”. They even went as far as to argue that the holiday effect accounts for some 30 to 50% of the total return on the US market in the pre-1987 period.

So, what does this mean for unlisted private companies raising funds through crowdfunding? I would argue their investors are just as likely to experience the holiday effect. In fact, given the highly risky nature of early stage startup investing, I would further argue that the holiday effect is even more pronounced – it might encourage an investor to express greater risk appetite than they would normally do. Great news then for companies that are campaigning during the holidays.

So, despite common perception Christmas isn’t such a bad time to run your crowdfunding campaign. But in order that you don’t end up in the doghouse I strongly recommend that you let your loved-one know in advance that you’ll be working over the Christmas/New Year period (running a campaign is pretty much all-consuming). That way they will understand what you’re up to and you’ll be allowed to share some of the festivities and fun.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Auckland is a crowdfunding specialist and founder of TribeFirst, a global equity crowdfunding communications agency that has helped raise in excess of £14m for over 45 companies on platforms such as Crowdcube, Seedrs, and Seedinvest – with a greater than 90% success rate. TribeFirst is the world’s first dedicated marketing communications agency to support equity crowdfunding campaigns. John is also Virgin StartUp’s crowdfunding trainer and consultant, helping them to run branded workshops, webinars and programmes on crowdfunding.


Twitter: @Tribe1st

Although the nightclub industry is still significant around the world, the number of people who go to nightclubs in the UK continues to decline. 

Negative press, tighter noise restrictions, and changing social attitudes have all contributed to falling attendance and the closure of famous institutions such as London’s Turnmills and Fabric. Nightclubs have also lost their competitive edge in England and Wales with the introduction of 24-hour alcohol licensing. 

In the UK, a grassroots movement #savenightlife has gathered support from record labels, agencies, promoters, and revellers to try to reverse the decline.

Meanwhile, new and innovative, technology-driven ideas are evolving the concepts of nightlife and nightclubs themselves.

Let’s look at nightclub business, the technological solutions that have made – and are making – their way into the industry, and how people working in the industry could bring clubs into a new golden age.

The nightclub business 

I believe that promoters, the people who get customers into the club – particularly in the luxury nightlife sector – could be the key to the industry’s future.

Promoters make money by earning a percentage of the total spending of their own customers in the club – the European and US average is 20%.

Customers are either engaged by club promoters or contacted by them to access the club and/or book tables. They’re then greeted and escorted through the night by promoters – ultimately the only figures customers have a meaningful business relationship with.

This relationship allows nightclubs to function as a place where the experience happens – music is played, dance moves are unleashed, and drinks are sold. Nightclubs are the stomping grounds of promoters – the true central business figures in the industry.

However, clubs need to attract a new, tech-savvy generation of clubbers, promoters need new tools to find and engage customers, and clubbers need new platforms and incentives to facilitate their experiences.

Technology and Nightlife

While new technology has been disrupting one established industry after another, the nightlife sector has lagged behind.

Promoters, nightclubs, and their brand managers have made some attempts at embracing technology, largely in the form of social media. Yet, the industry’s decline proves that advertising and brand awareness alone is not enough to increase attendance and save much loved clubs.

A technological gap sees the industry fail to attract younger generations who are accustomed to using their devices to discover products and experiences. Many young, innovative companies, however, have caught onto this.

Nitechain, a Blockchain-powered nightlife marketplace will soon use Nitecoin – its own cryptocurrency – to incentivise its clubbers to stay active and engaged within the nightlife ecosystem. Nitecoin will reward its users for attending clubs, recommending venues, and bringing along friends.

The platform is bolstered by its partnership with Nightset, an award-winning nightlife app which allows its users to find and access events and club nights.

Solutions like this are needed. Otherwise, those outside the circles of well-connected clubbers and their promoters – or those travelling to a new city where they don’t have connections – find it incredibly difficult to access amazing nightlife experiences. 

Even more difficult to find – and afford – is a table, particularly for groups of fewer than 10 people. This is despite VIP Table bookings making up a massive 60% of club revenues.

While tables offer clubbers the most exclusive experience possible; line skipping, security, bottle service, etc., the enforced minimum spending has caused costs to skyrocket. The minimum cost per table is £1,500 in London and $3,000 in Miami!

Meanwhile, promoters struggle to expand their customer portfolio and increase table sales. Without a technological solution, it’s tough for promoters and clubbers to find one another, and for clubbers to connect with others, book tables together and split the costs.

Figaroo (sometimes dubbed “the Uber/Airbnb for promoters”) focuses on club promoters – the true connectors of the industry. Despite having the most influence on demand, trends, and clientele, promoter technology is still a relatively young, unorganised, and fragmented sector. 

Figaroo links them with invite-only customers, giving them greater visibility and allowing them to fill tables. It also connects clubbers with one another – another important method to boost attendance and reverse the nightclub decline.

The stagnation of today’s nightlife industry is also owed to the swathes of homogeneous nightclubs – barely differentiable by their music, format, and overall experience. Many venues are using technology to set themselves apart from the competition and gain the edge over late-licence bars.

Experiential technology from the likes of Zuzor is used to create interactive displays, many of which are used to bring club walls to life. This may see fixtures imitating the motions of a dancing clubber, “cartooning” them, and turning them into the conductor of a psychedelic lightshow.

Interactive bars and tabletops such as Touch Magix, TableFX, and spinTouch, work on a similar concept. Filled with vibrant coloured lights, these futuristic surfaces respond to your touch. So, clubbers can expect to see butterflies land on their hands, create water ripples, and launch shooting stars launch as they sip their cocktails.

With a combination of these innovative ideas, and the many more yet to emerge, technology offers new hope to nightclubs and the wider nightlife industry. Over the next decade, the way clubs and promoters locate and attract clubbers will look completely different.

If those in the industry embrace technology they can reverse the current trend, and create a new golden age for the clubbing scene.

About the Author

Marco Scotti is an experienced entrepreneur and founder of Figaroo – a platform that connects clubbers with promoters and invite-only clubbers, allowing access to the VIP experience usually enjoyed only by high-net-worth individuals who make up 68% of all nightclub spending in a $25bn industry.

Figaroo is crowdfunding now on Crowdcube, the UK’s largest crowdfunding platform, until Dec. 22.

https://www.linkedin.com/company/figaroo-life/

www.crowdcube.com/figaroo

Over the last decade, expectations about what an office should look and feel like have radically changed. Much like the shift towards casual clothing at work and flexible working options, the ideal office is quickly becoming one that mimics our lives outside of work. They’re becoming environments where employees feel more comfortable and more productive as a result. Continue reading

The Trade Union Council recently suggested that with advances in technology, such as AI and remote systems, a four-day working week would not only help with employee morale, but would have incredible benefits for productivity, the environment, and even the gender pay gap.

A four-day working week equates to employees working 28 hours a week yet getting paid the same wage they get now. For many, it might seem too good to be true. Continue reading

If you are running your own business the festive season can feel like something of a balancing act. Afterall, although most people take time off and your customers may be shutting up shop there isn’t 100% consistency over which are non-working days. So, as you juggle to have time off with your loved ones how can you also ensure that you avoid losing any business with people who are working during the Christmas period?

Here are some tips to help make the most of business during the holidays:

Think about your customers

Are they likely to need you over the festive period?  When you think back to last year, did any of your customers comment about you not working? If they did, consider whether you need to have at least a skeleton staff working. Remember that many businesses will use the quiet time for planning for 2019.

Communicate with your customers

If you want to close down completely, make sure you tell your customers beforehand. Managing their expectations is key so that you don’t have unhappy customers that start looking for alternative providers.

Can you be on call?

You may not to have your team in the office, but can they be on call and then simply respond if needed? You will have to pay them something on the days they are on call, so that they are available for work. We all want to chill out over the festive period and that may include a glass, or two, of something ‘festive’, but your staff cannot work if they’ve had one too many, so it’s only fair to compensate them if you’re asking them to be near their laptop or able to drive to a customer. 

However, having one or two staff on call each day is far more cost effective than asking everyone to be in the office – or losing customers by not providing them with the support they need. 

Put your opening hours online

If you are going to close for the festive period, make sure your customers can clearly find out when you are next open for business. If they have been happy with your services in the past, they may be able to wait until you are next open.

Divert calls

Whether you have a hosted VoIP solution or in-house PBX phone system, you will be able to divert your calls. 

This may be to:

An answer machine that is checked regularly

An answer service such as Answeror Moneypenny, which will act as you and then pass on messages via email and/or text.

Divert to someone’s mobile. If you have someone on call, they are the ideal person to divert the call to. Most VoIP solutions allow you to log in and change that number so that the same person isn’t on call throughout the festive period.

Check your email

Even at Christmas our phones aren’t likely to be far from our sides, so a quick check will show whether you’ve got any emails from customers. Hopefully they will say in the email when they need a response. Be sensible about managing their expectations, as you may get a demanding customer expecting a response on Boxing Day!

Keep cyber safe

Switch off all user PCs that will not be needed over the festive period. If they aren’t in use – power them down. This will help mitigate the effects of an unexpected data breach or virus attack; a lot of damage can be done over a week and if no one is around you might not be aware of the problem until you unlock the office on your first day back. 

Variability of opening hours for businesses during the festive season is increasing. Did you know that Tesco and Sainsburys will even have some stores open on Christmas Day? In the previous years retailers such as DFS and Next have had massive queues on Boxing Day. It will be interesting to see where people go this year! As you enjoy some time off and close your business for at least part of the festive period, review these tips to avoid losing business from those who are working on different days to you and your team.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Ianiri is Director of independent telecoms brokerage Equinox. Mike works with companies, charities and other organisations to help them choose the right telecoms packages for their needs and thereby reduce their costs. He is particularly knowledgeable on the integration of IT and telecoms in business.  www.equinoxcomms.co.uk.

Twitter: @CommsEquinox