I am Karen Melonie Gould, the Founder & CEO of the fastest growing Alternative Business Finance Platform in the UK…
Offering: Alternative Business Finance Platform
This article is part of a series featuring women entrepreneurs, female founders and their companies. We at FundingSage hope these founders’ stories about startup funding will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own funding journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you?
“I am Karen Melonie Gould, the Founder & CEO of the fastest growing Alternative Business Finance Platform in the UK. We work with organizations to grow their business providing Alternative Financing and support.” “I am motivated by business and enjoy growing my business with a passion and as an entrepreneur. I am also motivated by the thrill of success and making a difference in an industry that is going through disruptive changes.”
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
Ms. Gould indicated that they are a free platform offering their members financing options from their financial partners. They provide memberships, both complimentary and paid, based on whether the customer wishes to access their fundmybusiness tool to raise capital, run a PR Campaign or attend events such as their weekly Fintech Law V Finance Events in London at the Rock Star Hub, as well as other major events across the UK. They have partnered with the Business Funding Show and IFB for 2016. Their team of Business Growth Advisors specializations from leadership and management to export and are multilingual in Russian, German, Arabic and French.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
“We moved into this arena in May, 2014 when there were only 2 in the segment. As such, we were an early mover. We focus on our Strengths and our USPs which are:
- Finance Finder Team complimented with our new cloud tool fundmybusiness
- Events and levels of memberships around business growth
- Newsletter (has grown organically to 15,000 within a year of SME’s, it is well received and published every Thursday)
- Growth Business Advisors – Specialisms and multilingual”
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
“The greatest challenge I faced was and still is the staffing of personnel with digital skills. My CTO went off sick in Jan 2015 and I was left managing a Digital Technical Team” for the next 6 months; “at the end in September, 2015 I outsourced it to London contractors.”
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
“I invested in my own company from the profits from another company that I owned, downsizing my home, and from savings.” I initially had “a 49% partner which I bought out in Jan 2014.”
“If I had to start over, I would not have wasted cash engaging SEO PR Digital Marketing companies as advised by advisors that I trusted,” Ms. Gould indicated. “These companies were expensive and did not deliver as expected. “I wasted about £70k”. “I should have learned and known to trust my own gut feeling based on having been in business for 20 years. However, I was nervous about digital Skills.”
Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
Ms. Gould indicated she had questions and a couple of concerns: “Where do we go in 2016 for Digital Platforms, are we back to Cloud platforms?” “Where is Fintech going and when will this bubble burst? Now that the Alternative Finance Market is worth £5b with 113 platforms in this arena in the UK, can we compete and keep up with the competition and the changes?”
What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
Ms. Gould indicated that the staffing of technical and digital personnel is a major challenge due to the skills shortage and high cost of such personnel. Gateway2enterprise has outsourced these for now but wants to develop their own team in London in the future.
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
Gateway2enterprise has found LinkedIn Profiles Contacts – LinkedIn Leads for Business to be very useful. Additionally, since she sourced financing for her own company, she finds they are in a better position to advise others as they are “living that journey” and can advise their clients accordingly.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?
Ms. Gould shared that despite their industry segment being “extremely competitive,” the market has doubled to more than £5b “so there is enough of the cake for all of us.” She also indicated that to continue their growth in 2016, the company will be pursuing a round of “smart investment,” equity financing, for use in building their digital technical teams, business and sales teams and internal systems infrastructure.
Their goal is to be the only woman led company amongst the top Fintech companies in the UK in 2016 – 2017.