Founder Focus: a right diamond geezer
NP: Rare Pink (now Taylor and Hart) is an online retailer of diamond engagement rings and fine jewellery. We are unique in the way we offer customers the best of the high street and a convenient online shopping experience. Our customers have a personal consultant and the ability to touch and see products before buying. They also benefit from our competitive online prices, vast range and customisation and the ability to shop from anywhere, 24/7.
MC: When did you know you were ready to ask for investment? NP: We knew we were ready when we had already validation many important business model assumptions, showing traction and the ability to deliver a great product and customer service. At this stage we decided it was time to grow, building a foundation for a scalable business.
MC: Have you raised anything so far and how did you achieve that?
NP: We raised our first investment from our friends and family to get the business started. After building and launching the website in 2013, we also raised a £195,00 investment round in 2014 through several Angels and crowd-funding. We chose to use crowd-funding as part of our investment strategy, to gain not only investment but also brand ambassadors and customers. Nine months later, we still get referrals and sales from our 150+ investors.
MC: How have you been actively using the Match Capital platform?
NP: We have been using the Match Capital platform for now mostly to do research. Looking at what kinds of companies our matched VCs have invested in gives us an insight to what kind of readiness we need to be able to also raise a similar round.
MC: What documentation have you been sending to investors? Was the highlights template useful? NP: We have been so far sending through a slide deck, and if needed, our business plan.
MC: How many of your top matches have you contacted?
NP: We have reached out to several matches of which two we have had meetings.
MC: How many slides was your investor deck?
NP: About 10 slides.
MC: Has anyone given you any feedback on your deck? NP: Yes, have gone through over 20 versions of the deck already
MC: Have you received any interest from investors and have you had any meetings?
NP: We have had two meetings, both of which are continuing with follow up meetings next week.
MC: What common questions have you been asked by VCs/investors?
NP: The most common questions we have been asked relate to a) our USP – whether we have done enough to truly differentiate ourselves from our competitors. b) is there scalability in offering a bespoke service? These are tough questions and over a year ago when we first got asked the very same questions, I must say we didn’t know how to respond. It is for this reason that we spent the last twelve months working on not just being able to answer them, but also showing progress towards building a business that has a scalable competitive advantage. As a result, we now have the Rare Pink design studio, where designers from around the world consult our customers through the studio, offering them a bespoke design experience, while keeping costs low and therefore providing an opportunity to scale a personal online service in a unique way.
MC: Is there anything you wish you hadn’t said in an investor meeting?
NP: I wish I didn’t focus so much on our price competitiveness. I am constantly tempted to remind investors that we offer great value, but often find this de-values the premium online brand identity I am equally trying to sell.
MC: What do you wish you had said, that you didn’t say?
NP: I wish I had focussed more on the management team’s capabilities. Sometimes I focus too much on the technology and forget to mention the people in our business.
MC: In your opinion, what are the “no-nos” worth bearing in mind when talking to investors?
NP: Complexity. The minute your business has parts of its set-up or business model that are too complicated for investors to understand, it seems they quickly lose interest or at the very least, it raises some unnecessary red flags.
MC: Have you got any advice for any subscribers who are preparing for an investor meeting?
NP: Know your investor and what is important to them. An investor in tech companies may need to know a lot more about the technology your business is built on. Similarly, an investor who does not get tech may be more interested in the people, business model, sales channels of your business.
MC: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced along the way?
NP: One of the hardest things has been time management. Finding the time to grow the business, manage your team and raise a round is probably one of the hardest time juggling acts I have ever had to do.
More about Rare Pink (now Taylor and Hart)
Rare Pink (now Taylor and Hart) is an online retailer of diamond engagement rings and fine jewellery. We are unique in the way we offer customers the best of the high street and a convenient online shopping experience. Our customers have a personal consultant and the ability to touch and see products before buying. They also benefit from our competitive online prices, vast range and customisation and the ability to shop from anywhere, 24/7. Our customers are mostly men, but also women, with busy lifestyles and in the age range of 27-40. Customers are tech savvy and used to shopping online. Our average order value is £3,000 and our most expensive engagement ring sold to date was valued at £50,000. We are positioning ourselves as a premium online jeweller and with our offices in New York, London and Hong Kong we are also able to offer our customers consultations which we have seen drastically improve our conversion. Our growth strategy includes expanding our Design Studio; a market-place of designers based from locations such as India, South Africa and Lebanon. These designers offer a personal bespoke consultation to our customers online, while keeping our costs low. While expanding our online presence we plan to also increase the number of locations where we are able to invite customers to in-person consultations across the major cities in the UK, Asia and the US. These satellite offices will be based in city-centre locations, but as they will staff few people and hold only a lean amount of stock, they will continue to allow us to offer competitive online prices. Rare Pink is currently raising a £1m equity round at a post-money valuation of £6m. In an exciting opportunity that is currently developing, Rare Pink China will be opening a store in Shanghai in 2015 through a joint venture with a Chinese investor. Due to the high risk nature of this project, the value of this opportunity has not been factored into our current valuation. The Chinese business opens its doors in January 2015 and we are excited to be entering a market that only just displaced the US as the world’s largest diamond jewellery market and expected to continue its rapid growth for years to come.