Crowdsurfer riding high after winning TechCityNews Start-Up Competition
Emily Mackay is the founder of Crowdsurfer, a CEDAR Enterprise Fellow and a finalist/winner in Tech City News start up competition. She took some time out of her busy schedule to talk to SOS Blog about the journey so far…
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to found Crowdsurfer?
I founded Crowdsurfer [www.crowdsurfer.co] in 2012 after exiting my first business, Microgenius [www.microgenius.org.uk], the UK’s first community shares platform. So I’d already spent some time working with the complexities of online financial transactions, technical solutions, regulations, and the like.
Before that, I was in the music industry and working for an international technology consultancy. That might sound dull, but far from it! I’ve had some fantastic experiences.
Snapshots include: working with a MacArthur Fellow (a ‘genius grant’ recipient), looking after the legal and financial arrangements of virtuoso conductors, writing business plans alongside Feargal Sharkey (The Undertones), interviewing numerous media companies and their investors all over London to compile a ‘digital media industry data bible’, getting deep into the physics of the UK’s fibre broadband capacity, and getting my hands dirty in Europe’s spectrum management plans.
So I’ve covered some interesting ground commercially and technically. I founded Microgenius to make it easy to find and invest in local renewable energy projects. It started out as me trying to solve my own niggle and grew into a full time business. By the time I exited, there were literally hundreds of crowd and peer finance platforms.
So the problem of finding interesting opportunities remains. A search engine would solve the problem of discovery, as well as provide much needed data on what’s happening: so Crowdsurfer was born as a search engine and data service for crowd/peer finance
What makes Crowdsurfer unique?
We’re doing something new by using big data technology to make the global crowd finance world navigable and analysable for the first time. We’re going to have unique data on new finance, which will help businesses, the financial industry and the man on the street.
We’re at the forefront of data on new finance, which is a great place to be. I’m lucky to have a phenomenal team with experience in new finance, search, computer engineering, data and communications. I think they’re a very special and unique bunch, so the journey is a fun one. 🙂
What was difficult/fun/unexpected about starting your own company?
Difficult is knowing where you’re heading. Sometimes it’s like stumbling through a wood at night without a torch or map. Fun is meeting along the way the meet cool, committed, awesome people who also want to make Crowdsurfer happen.
I’ve worked in a few start ups, so I’ve come to expect the unexpected – there’s a lot of randomness in start up world! The trick is to turn it to your advantage, while keeping an eye on the big goal. You need to spot the good opportunities and avoid dead ends – it’s an art more than a science.
So what has attracted you to East London?
East London is where the fin-tech businesses and investors congregate in the UK. It’s where the events, meetups, competitions and talent is, so it would be hard to stay away from that critical mass.
Can you give us an overview of the [Tech City News] competition, what you had to do, who else was there…
The Tech City News competition comprised several rounds: a written screening round, video pitching at Google Campus, a public vote, and a competitive pitch to a panel of ‘Dragons’. Those that survived are this year’s finalist winners. We recorded our final promotional pitch on a speedboat on the Thames.
Keep an eye on @Crowdsurferco on Twitter if you’d like to see what happens when you put me on a speedboat with a film crew and ask me to pitch! There were some inspiring start ups, some quite established with impressive teams, so we are delighted to be in that cohort. The camaraderie is really fun too; the energy and dynamism is very motivating.
What’s the plan is now?
We’re excited to have clients and consumers from all over the world interested in what we’re doing, so we’re out looking for super special investors to support us with the next step. We’re looking in London, but the most important thing to us is to find the best people, wherever in the world they are. If you’d like a chat, please drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or keep tabs at: http://crowdsurfer.co/
With special thanks to Emily Mackay.