A multi-millionaire who sold Poundland for £50m, Smith set out to raise £250,000, but doubled this figure within a matter of days. He now joins an elite group of high profile entrepreneurs turning to crowdfunding for investment purposes.
Founded two years ago, EstatesDirect.com is an online estate agency with a difference, charging a fixed fee to market, sell or let any property regardless of location or value, and has sold more than 450 properties to date. The company, which plans to operate via a network of franchises and licensees around the country, will use the money to fund its expansion plans and capitalise on a market valued at more than £6bn in the UK.
After raising £500,000 against an initial target of £250,000 and attracting 191 investors with a 10 per cent equity share, Steve Smith and Darren Richards, founder of DatingDirect.com, announced plans to roll out the business across the UK. “We want to make EstatesDirect.com the UK’s largest personal estate agency network within the next few years. The estate agency market is huge, but is currently dominated by high street agents that charge exorbitant fees – our aim is to bridge the gap between online and high street and make the process easier and cheaper.”
Smith adds: “We decided on crowdfunding via Crowdcube because it would allow us to open it up to public investors for a small stake in the business for the first time. We clearly underestimated the interest, but delighted we doubled our original target.”
As successful entrepreneurs, Smith and Richards join a growing band of highly respected individuals who have sought funding on Crowdcube. “When the founder of Poundland, the Chairman of Gieves & Hawkes and Michel Roux Jr come to us to secure funding, you realise just how much the crowdfunding market has matured,” explains Luke Lang, founder of Crowdcube. “It’s now a serious source of investment and we’re proud to attract such high calibre interest.”