Even at the earliest stages of Karfu, going right back to the study rooms of Imperial College Business School in 2018, crowdfunding was discussed as one of the most likely options for the business to pursue if we were to consider external funding.
We have partnered with Crowdcube to allow equity investment in Karfu for a variety of different investors of all shapes and sizes.
We thought it was worth explaining our five reasons in more detail:
1) Due to requests from potential investors
Over the past five years, we have received many requests from people who would like to invest a variety, but often smaller, amounts of money in Karfu. We have never believed investing in a start-up should be a privilege for only a handful of people, and we see a diverse investor base as a positive, not a negative.
So if you are over 18 years old, legally entitled to invest and a resident of the UK or a country where you may legally receive crowdfunding financial promotions, you will be able to invest in Karfu. You can invest from as little as £12.
2) To build our community
We want to build a community of people who want help saving money on their vehicle and mobility choices and, where possible based on their requirements, find more sustainable solutions to their transport needs.
We don’t just want their money, we are looking to build an engaged group of people who will test and trial our comparison tools, read our content, provide feedback and tell more people we exist. We want people to tell us where we are going wrong and where (and how) we can improve. Karfu is a complex piece of software that will need to be improved over time and we want a set of users that care about our choices and give us feedback and advice on areas where we could do better.
This is your opportunity to contribute and influence our direction. We’ll be holding regular sessions, both online and in person, to meet our community and get your opinions directly.
3) To validate our vision
In the last few years, there has been a significant expansion in new types of vehicles, from electric cars to scooters, as well as new ways of accessing them, including subscription, sharing and rental options. Our research has shown that all the new options make it hard to directly compare and choose, and even harder to get value. A lack of trust in new and traditional vehicle providers, combined with consumers' concerns for the environment, has added even more complexity into the decision making process.
Our solution is this website - Karfu.com - that brings every ‘mobility’ product and service into one place, helping consumers to find the best choice for them as quickly as possible, saving them money, time and effort.
We have already conducted extensive research, consumer beta testing, and convinced several partners to join our platform. However, crowdfunding is a great way to further validate the vision for Karfu. It will allow us to see if individuals are willing to invest their money to help us create something that does not yet exist, and determine if people see value in our approach and long-term plans.
4) To maintain our impartiality
Karfu has been designed from the outset to be an independent, impartial resource for consumers. We want to follow similar principles to Money Saving Expert (Martin Lewis) & Which?, in that we would prefer not to allow advertising promotion (companies paying to feature more prominently on the site or in our results) or sponsorship (companies paying to support our Content with a view to impacting our coverage of them).
However, to exist we need money to develop Karfu’s tools for consumers and businesses, keep the website online, and pay our staff to create great content about saving money on your vehicle and mobility choices. Furthermore, Karfu requires investment to allow us to build the platform, launch to consumers, and convince providers we are worth investing their time integrating with. Without sufficiently robust revenue generation, it will be harder to keep the platform independent and free from bias.
A number of companies have expressed interest in Karfu’s underlying total cost of use technology. However, we are currently not convinced that letting only one company own or have access to our unique tools would be the best outcome for consumers. Our concern is that our technology could be manipulated to only show their products and services, so more suitable (or cheaper) deals for an individual consumer may never be surfaced. Whilst there may still be a company that can convince us, we have not met them yet.
Another option for us to achieve revenue even faster would be to allow advertising in different forms onto the website, for example, letting companies pay us to promote their products or services. Our ideal scenario is a level playing field for providers, as we think this is the best way to save consumers money, so companies focus on making their products great and affordable, rather than paying to boost them up the rankings.
We also believe removing advertising from our Content also makes the website easier to read, less distracting and faster to navigate, improving the overall experience for people using Karfu. We have yet not found an advertising solution that balances these goals sufficiently in favour of the consumer.
Crowdfunding should help Karfu to remain independent and reduce the pressure from investors who may attempt to make us compromise our impartiality, whilst we continually evaluate all options to generate income for the business to make Karfu self-sufficient in the long run.
5) To get to net zero faster
Karfu is a Certified B Corporation for a reason - we care enough about the environment that we went through a complex certification process to ensure this commitment was legally recorded in our articles of association.
We have built our own bespoke environmental impact lifecycle model to help people understand the true impact of their vehicle choices and usage over time. We have done this because it is our opinion that too many people will purchase an electric car and believe, from an emissions standpoint, that their work is complete. It is our team’s belief that we don’t think this is going to be enough to meet the already difficult targets required to reduce global warming.
Karfu will help people better understand the overall environmental impact of their vehicle choices, which we believe will lead them to make more sustainable choices. These include reducing the number of vehicles they use or own, sharing vehicles where possible, or using smaller electric vehicles like bikes or scooters. Crowdfunding will also allow us to reach a broader variety of people more quickly, allowing us to play a part in helping others understand the importance of choosing an environmentally friendly lifestyle. Ultimately, contributing to the collective global goal of net zero in the process.
Crowdfunding allows more people to own a part of Karfu, become more deeply entwined in our product development, prove our vision could be reality, allow us to remain impartial and help get the planet to net zero faster.
So if you agree with our rationale for our crowdfund, what are you waiting for?
Pre-register here for our upcoming crowdfunding campaign launching on Crowdcube at the end of March.