This week, we speak to Founder and CEO of Sticky, James Garner. We enjoyed a Decksender member interview with James last year where we discussed how lockdown caused them to double down on product development by bootstrapping, their thoughts on the future of the high street, and government support schemes during the Covid crisis.
This time we catch up on how Sticky has progressed since last we spoke; including the exciting development of their investment through Decksender and what their plans are for the future.
Even a year on, Sticky is still a relatively new company but have just secured a whopping £325k seed investment from SFC Capital, a Seed investment firm specialising in early-stage ventures so we wanted to find out from James what their secret to success was!
How did Sticky secure funding so quickly?
The most important thing to find is early customer love – and it’s important to distinguish love from like. You don’t need 100 people who love your product; just one is enough!
The key is loving your offer means they’ll tell all their friends, family, colleagues, and become your brand advocate (remember Monzo’s Golden Ticket referral scheme). At seed stage, just a handful of paying customers who truly love you is the validation investors are looking for – and it’s a lot more valuable than hundreds who only like what you’ve built.
So how do you make the step from like to true love? James advises you follow the mantra of Peter Thiel’s Zero to One: don’t make a commodity. People like commodities because they can compare them on price and features, but they can only love something different and disruptive. Ask if what you’re building is really ten times better than anything else on the market. When Sticky saw customers react with love to their product, they went to market and raised.
SFC Capital invested in Sticky because of the sheer market size and their focus on no-code. Sticky’s market analysis (TAM/SAM/SOM) showed the possibilities which was genuinely exciting and put paid to the idea of saying they’d tackle “just X%” of the market as the opportunities were vast.
What was the investment process for Sticky – any advice to founders?
James and his team went to around 50 investor meetings, which he said felt like a lot more than 50 hours worth of his time (think of all that scheduling and prep!) while closing the round consisted of at least 200 emails!
The rejection was tough, but a bunch of those meetings were with VCs who Sticky was definitely too early for – and the VCs knew that too – but took the meeting because they were working on something – in the words of one VC – ‘so damn interesting’. So even these meetings were beneficial for building relationships. Depending on your feedback, a “no” could only be a no now.
Jokingly, James notes that he really only knew when the investor was ‘the one’ when they received the high valuation term sheet! But more seriously, he reflects that the best meetings aren’t pitches – they are conversations. Most investors want to see a deck before meeting so a Q+A format is better when you have face time. That deck has highlighted your potential and market size which is why they’ve decided to meet in the first place so the meeting is an opportunity to address concerns and determine if you’re the right fit for each other. He follows up that every meeting is a true blessing and can provide essential feedback so listen! And always reply courteously and quickly to a no, but be quick and sharp in how you word it.
How did Decksender help you secure your investment?
It’s a tired quote but the reason it is used so much is because it really does work: “building the relationship” with potential investors and those within the Decksender investor community. Sticky were building a relationship with an investor that ultimately said ‘no’ to the investment, but their feedback, and having investors in the community to send updates to helps maintain momentum and focus.
Photo courtesy of Sticky.to
What is Sticky spending their investment on?
Sticky 2.0 has been built already (sticky/stickies = their customers’ name for stickers) and they are already able to offer a market-leading transaction fee by investing in their own challenger payment stack (1.5%+5p vs 1.4%+20p with Stripe). Most QR-based tech runs on top of Stripe and that’s OK, but they’ll never take off because the transaction fees will never compete with a traditional card machine. 1.5%+5p can.
Up next, Sticky will become a payments facilitator (“PayFac”) and regulated by the FCA which will allow them to reduce the payment fees even further, making a huge difference to merchants around the world. That’s what Sticky is all about: empowering business to solve problems. And taking payments is just one part of it.
Sticky started out with the intention of ‘saving the high street’ and this intention hasn’t changed. But it’s become just one element of Sticky’s offer. The high street still needs to be experimental but above all brick and mortar businesses need to focus on their bottom lines post Covid-19, which is why empowering them to offer something of Amazon-, or Just Eat-, quality (or better) in terms of service, logistics and payments makes the most sense. Imagine if every high street store had the convenience of Amazon? That’s where Sticky’s headed.
What are recent developments and what’s next?
The most important development for Sticky is “flows”, their “build your own solution” tool. It’s unlocked deals in verticals James never thought of being an option such as sports coaching, property sales and car rentals – all with no code. Their sales people are going out demoing these solutions to huge companies without taking any engineering time which is absolutely incredible to watch.
And as for next steps, growth outside of the UK and into the US in their goal. Boots on the ground in the US is the unwritten requirement for a decent late-seed or Series A cheque and it’s a market too big to ignore.
Get in touch with Sticky
Want to raise funding like Sticky?
As with every level of fundraising, it starts with a killer pitch deck! Decksender can help you nail this and get it out to potential investors waiting to hear your ideas.