Digital Jersey recently launched Springboard, the Island’s first crowdfunding platform, to help entrepreneurs and start-ups get access to much needed funding to grow. One of the first businesses to take advantage of the platform is Phundex Limited, and CEO, Heather-Anne Hubbell shares her story.
Phundex was born out of a frustration that as someone who worked in the financial services sector, there was no single end-to-end collaboration hub that could link family offices, administrators, and investors. My background is in law and corporate governance and so the vision for Phundex was to de-risk the investment lifecycle, making it easier and more efficient. There are plenty of great individual tools out there, but no single place to manage the processes, transactions, and stakeholders, while also dealing with all the regulatory issues.
We started work on the Phundex concept in 2019. I’m a serial entrepreneur so this isn’t my first venture, but it took us months just to work out how to deal with the data and user permissions, i.e. who is allowed to do what with what. We knew we would have people from multiple organisations working on projects, so getting the access right was critical. By the beginning of 2020, we had a prototype beta platform, and some co-creator clients were starting to use it. These included a large incubator at a University in Toronto, which was trying to manage their 125+ start-ups via Trello and Excel spreadsheets. Phundex is customisable, and so we set up an innovation management system for them and they’ve been using it ever since.
As clients started to use our beta platform and we added functionality, it became clear that our beta was good, but we also learned we could do a lot better, and so we started work on the full platform, Phundex 1.0. That’s now ready and we have begun to onboard clients to it.
To date, we have funded this entirely ourselves. We’ve been very lucky that our tech partner has been willing to work on a partially deferred payment basis. They see the potential in the platform. Now we’d like to be able to hire more human resource, market Phundex, and build even more functionality.
Phundex is very well suited for the Jersey client base of funds, funds services, trust company service providers etc. many functions of which are extremely manual and need to become more automated. There are a lot of small and medium-sized organisation that don’t have technical departments to look at all the different tools, tie them together somehow, if that’s even possible, and still be secure. We designed Phundex to be easy to use with minimal integration, so you don’t need the technical department to support it. Due to the nature of the industry and its regulatory requirements, we are highly privacy and security conscious and are GDPR, ISO 27001, 27017, 27018, and 9001 compliant.
Springboard, the new Digital Jersey funding initiative, launched at just the right time for us. We are looking for £1.5million, and so we are offering equity, not using the rewards-based crowdfunding. Our ideal investor will be someone who wants to use the platform themselves and can offer input as to which additional functions they’d like to see first. Or they might be an investor involved with other fintechs that we could collaborate with. We don’t want to build what already exists; we want to incorporate other solutions that can complement our services. There will be a second equity raise in around 18 months and we have structured to ensure that anyone who invests now will not have their interest diluted in that second raise.
Springboard is a great initiative because it’s effectively an introduction between potential investors and start-ups, which means you don’t have to go and tap on a stranger’s shoulder and ask them if they want to put money into your business. By listing on the platform, all the companies have had to put together data and information, which gives potential investors a level base of information, making it easier to start an initial conversation. Jersey has a fantastic opportunity to form a community of start-ups and investors who can work collaboratively. Springboard enables them to do this without making the investors feel uncomfortable and while also raising awareness. There are lots of companies and entrepreneurs in Jersey doing some great stuff, and we now have the opportunity to take those global with financial and community support. We’re really excited about Springboard leveraging Jersey’s digital aspirations.