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Crowdfunding to the moon: InvestUP

“Back in the 1960s when they were landing on the moon, everyone came together, it wasn’t the U.S. landing on the moon, it was mankind”

says James Tuckett, founder and MD of investUP (or just UP), the ‘world’s first crowdfunding supermarket’. It’s an aggregator, a central access point, a platform to give you control over the plethora of debt and equity crowdfunding sites. Crowdfunding is a market that’s growing 250% a year in the UK and UP are looking to take control of it. 

27-year-old James doesn’t talk about the moon because he has an undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering, which incidentally he does, he talks about it because for him, crowdfunding could change the world the way NASA did in 1969.

‘Let’s say I put up a project for a lunar base on a crowdfunding site, asking for $10 billion, people would invest in that, I would..’ 

‘Pushing the boundaries of what we can achieve is the best way of levelling out poverty and more - it’s not only about getting money to businesses but a way of getting mega projects funded that affect a lot of people.’

UP doesn’t offer investments or host them. It consolidates the top investment crowdfunding sites in the UK, offers deals and lets you track portfolio performance.  James is keen to point out UP’s placement in the industry - ‘crowdfunding sites are our partners, not our competitors - this makes us unique.’ 

UP markets itself as a centralised platform - by consolidating the debt and equity crowdfuding market, investors needn't go to various sites to track their portfolio. They log on to UP and manage it all from there. 

“We’re a young team - we want to demonstrate that we take regulation seriously - we’re taking responsibility for our business and regulatory commitments”

The FCA sets out guidelines for categorising investors involved in online investments. James acknowledges there’s an art to balancing FCA guidelines with user experience. 

‘It’s difficult when you’re building a tech company - dealing with drop-off - we’ve tried to fit inside the regulation without turning people off at the point-of-registration’

Those interested in using UP must self-certify themselves and fill out an appropriateness test before signing up. These tests collect information about your propensity to take risks, investment experience and financial situation to ensure the FCA don’t get themselves into hot water if something goes bad. 

As UP hasn’t publicly launched yet - James and the team are setting their sights to be FCA regulated by the time the site goes live in November. 

“People got excited about crowdfunding last year - I hunted for a team and now the final group of guys are spot-on" 

To assist in his goal of crowdfunding domination James has been working on recruiting an all-star roster for UP’s development. James brought on Dave White as a finance director. Dave’s experience in the business and tech world comes from years heading up xchange group, working as a manager for EY and capitalising on business growth during the dotcom boom. 

Joining James and Dave are a handful of other team members, all late-twenties/early thirties, all excited about the prospect of making something big together. Perhaps the team is comforted by the inclusion of an industry veteran, an older, wiser head providing mentorship and keeping youthful recklessness in check.

“Banks have incredible infrastructure, enormous networks, but they’re incumbent - they can’t innovate - they try but they can’t”

It’s a familiar story, one about banks being too big and too slow to innovate. Instead throwing cash at smaller firms and reaping the rewards. 

‘Organisations like us, like UP, should consider working with institutions to use their network - to add value to both businesses - but they shouldn’t become puppets - that will destroy what it’s all about. When you start aligning your strategy with that of a major bank - that’s a mistake’ 

It’s the dream of UP that keeps James moving and creating, the dream that UP might just dominate an exploding sector of fintech. 

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