Meet the member – Evan Michaels of HELPFUL

This week we talk to Evan Michaels of HELPFUL.

HELPFUL is one of the businesses on the Decksender platform that I was really keen to talk to and luckily founder Evan Michaels agreed to be interviewed as part of our meet the member series.

Evan started HELPFUL with his long time business partner William Hakan Nordh on a mission to make sustainable living accessible and rewarding for everyone. They were driven to create a solution to the scourge of single-use plastics, packaging and that solution would incentive people to take part.

single use plastic
Photo by Naja Bertolt Jensen on Unsplash

Started in 2019 HELPFUL first created an app which they launched in Canary Wharf. The product helped users find recycling points, directed them to water fountains and enabled sustainability. Incentives were quickly added and the results were impressive. The visibility quickly drew the attention of the local corporate businesses and retailers and led directly to the development of their HELPFUL Circles product. Circles allows businesses to engage their employees to promote sustainable living by issuing rewards and incentives. Traction has been great and wider take up is imminent.

The lockdown question?

Like a lot of start-ups we talk to, HELPFUL didn’t meet the governments idea of a cookie cutter business. Both founders weren’t on the payroll and the development team sat outside the UK. This meant accessing funding has been virtually impossible. However lockdown has enabled the team to focus on developing their Fintech product. Something I believe will ensure a bright future.

HELPFUL Zero is their vision of the future. One in which throw away packaging and sustainable shopping are the norm. To get there they want to make the use of reusable packaging easy and rewarding and they’ll do that by building a platform that makes use of reusable containers simple and easy all wrapped up into a Fintech solution that sits across the retailer and consumer.

Funding

Initial funding came from the founders and via their business network but they’re now embarking on a larger funding round.

HELPFUL are looking to raise £500,000 through their SEIS and EIS qualified round. One could argue it’s not the best time to be raising but I disagree. I believe lockdown has put sustainability more into focus than ever. It’s taken a harsh lesson but people are slowly waking up to the value in things and the world around us and I think this positions HELPFUL in exactly the right place.

Learn more about the funding round here.

The sustainable future

As it’s a topic close to my heart I was keen to get Evans take on the future. Whilst we’ve seen pollution plummet Evan also points out lockdown has pushed many companies back into old habits. The throw away coffee cup has replaced the reusable one alarmingly quickly. As he points out it’s small acts that this that bring into question the motivations behind some businesses sustainability initiatives. Great Pr but when profits might be hit it’s out the window.

However, on the plus side Evan has been able to go cycling with his son without fear of the dreaded London traffic. I totally agree though that as he points out change is in the hands of the individual. We often don’t like change and it takes a harsh reality to make it real. Let’s hope that if anything good comes from coronavirus it’s that we have a new found respect for our planet and resources.

About HELPFUL

Founded in 2019, in London by Evan Michaels and William Hakan Nordh.

Website: https://www.helpful.world/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/helpful_app

HELPFUL use Decksender to reach investors, you can too

The more-news-than-you-can -chuck-a-stick at news update.

Featured image: Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

It’s been ages since we did a public news blurt – usually we save the juicy bits for our users and start-up community.

The short n sweet

  • We are organising a summit around funding for minority led startups in the UK and Europe and additionally how we can help get more funding for African startups.
  • We’ve onboarded 700 more investors in the last 2 weeks and getting up to a sweet cadence of 150 a day. More investors = more opportunities for startups to get funded
  • Cool features coming – autosend on high auto matches, equity crowd funding readiness prep in collaboration with our partner – CrowdCube.
  • Community is the big focus, more events, more collaborations and more partners to bring value to the the community.

The scenic route

A summit on funding for minority led startups in the UK and Europe.

Given the momentum of the moment with the Black Lives Matter movement, we feel it is overdue to lead an exploration of how we can make a material impact to black and minority communities in the UK and Europe.

We know startups and funding and the startup ecosystem and so we are starting there.

So in early July – date to be confirmed – we will get together with black and other minortiy founders, investors who already invest and others who have never investor before but feel that now is the time. We will look at the the hurdles and opportunities and the necessary groundwork to remove bias from the system.

The goal is to leave with a compelling vision to change the story of minority funding and a plan for what we will do next.

If you feel you can add value to the conversation – please get in touch with Mike for an invite.

700 new investors onboarded and more coming – upto 150 a day!

I think the record for not doing something when being nagged relentlessly by one’s co-founder stands at 1 year and 3 months.

I beat that. Doug has been on to me nigh on 2 years to get more investors loaded and I’m delighted to say that we now have exactly that mechanism to load and verify their details to make sure we have relevant investors available to startups on the platform.

Steady as a rock and then boom!

With this new capability we will be adding verified investors at around 150 a day and I’ll be looking to make this even better. There are 100k more to go!

Cool features coming …

Photo by Oleksii Khodakivskiy on Unsplash

There are loads of things happening all the time on the Decksender product – we are a small team and keeping things break neck without breaking our necks is a fine art.

We decided to manage things a bit with the speed of development and try and get out output to 1 feature a week, starting on Friday.

Next Friday (26th June) we are releasing Autosend and beyond that we have a whole thing around preparing startups to crowdfund via CrowdCube – our equity crowdfunding partner.

Autosend is basically a fire and forget feature that lets startups flag one of their uploaded decks as their ‘autosend’ deck. So when we add new investors, or existing investor criterias change – we automatically re-run the matching algorithm. We’ll then send the ‘autosend’ deck to the new high match investors. This gives founders and even easier experience without compromising the effectiveness. We’re good like that 🙂

Next, we’ll work on the crowdfunding track feature – this is much more involved than simply code – so will likely take a couple of weeks rather than one. It is about automatically identifying startups that suit a crowdfunding model and putting them on a path to get enough audience, cornerstone investors etc to then launch a successful campaign on CrowdCube.

Job done – only differently.

If we get time in between all this – we’ll add hyper localisation for investors. Some have given us feedback that they have very specific locations that they invest in e.g. New York city or North West England. We didn’t get that granular and it often results in too many decks that aren’t exactly matching that location criteria. We’ve figured a simple fix and will be applying it in the next few weeks too.

Community is the focus

Photo by Elena Taranenko on Unsplash

We’ve built loads of cool tech. Funnels, services, APIs. We’ve used AI and all the trendy things.

But it always comes back to community.

So that is where we are now focusing most of our time – finding things of value for our community of startups and investors to help them achieve their goals. Our community site is https://community.decksender.com and is open to all users of Decksender. It has loads of community content on how real people are solving real problems, expert topics and conversation and deals that we are negotiating with loads of companies we use and respect like Hubspot, Stripe and others.

We’re connecting them to each other and to partners that share our mission. Creating events – we call them ‘mingles’ – that bring learning, fun and collaboration together.

Done. Have a lovely until-next-time.

The easy way to get this news is to sign-up for Decksender

June Decksender Meet-Up

decksender meetup

The June Decksender meet-up takes place on Friday the 12th. Find out what’s in store.

A chance for the Decksender start-up community to come together, this Friday’s meet-up has a packed agenda.

The format will be a facilitated conversation with a panel discussion, Q&A and general chat afterwards. We invite you to bring your own coffee/tea/booze.

We’ll have …

– a panel 3 – 5 of the most active investors on Decksender sharing how they use it, what they are looking for in startups and fielding your questions.

– our marketing and finance specialist partners on hand to help answer your pressing questions and help

– time to shoot the breeze and do some general Q&A and natter.

Over 30 of you have already signed up so it’s sure to be a lively event. We’ve deliberately picked a later afternoon time so everything should be a little more chilled.

Sign up for the June Decksender Meet-Up here

Meet the member, Jay Richards of Imagen.

imagine insights

This week we talk to Jay Richards founder of Imagen.

Jay’s been a member of the Decksender start-up community for a while and has used the platform to share his companies pitch deck in the past and we were super pleased when he agreed to be interviewed for the blog and tell us all about his company Imagen.

Imagen are on a mission to help Gen Z shape their future. They do this by connecting agencies and brands with their Gen Z community for feedback, insights and ideas on branding, marketing and products. It’s a great idea building on the trend for crowdsourcing marketing services and most importantly ideas. Where the true value lies is being able to connect with a market segment many of their clients struggle to understand. The cliche, 2 balding white guys in floral shirts running the creative team exists for a reason. Imagen bypasses this disconnect, managing and curating the process towards the outcomes required.

I must confess it’s somewhat of an area of interest for me as i’ve watched the creative and marketing landscape change dramatically over the last 10-15 years and I truly think companies like Imagen are the future.

So onto the meat!

I had to ask the Covid question. Luckily Jay and his team haven’t been too badly affected. In fact as he says, “it’s been a great time to get online, run webinars and connect with brands”. As a team they’ve had to tighten their belts but current circumstances haven’t curtailed their appetite for a second funding round later this year and their sales pipeline looks super healthy.

“Lockdown has been a great time to get online, run webinars and connect with brands”

Jay Richards, Imagen

Where does the future lie?

The next step for Imagen is all about developing their technology. Their next raise is squarely focussed on funding their app and generally improving the experience for their community. despite the current sentiment a good idea and business is still a good business and I personally think they have a great opportunity in front of them.

They’ve also spent time developing and restructuring their advisory board, gearing up for the next stage of growth.

More about Imagen.

Company overview:“We enable agencies and brands to collaborate with Gen Z for brutally honest insights about branding, marketing and products.

No more guessing, we crowdsource the best feedback, ideas and insights from our Gen Z consultant community to enable agencies and brands to build all of the above with Gen Z in the room!”

Imagen Co-founder and CEO, Jay Richards is the 5th of 6 children from migrant parents. From a rebellious start while at school to now the Founder of Imagen and a Forbes 30under30 entrepreneur, he credits his Business Studies teacher at school for guiding his sense of entrepreneurship in the right direction at the right time and now aims to provide opportunities to Gen Z to shape their future.

Cat Agostinho is Co-founder and COO of Imagen. Cat has been a supporter and promoter of talent throughout her career and also founded dawn in 2009 – a community dedicated to inspiring and developing women’s careers both personally & professionally.  Cat was listed as an IPA Women of Tomorrow Finalist 2018 and a contributing member to the Conscious Advertising Network (CAN).

If you’d like to learn more about the platform and raise reach out to the Imagen team here.

Join great companies like Imagen on Decksender