Every week we publish an interview with a start-up. We ask five questions, hoping the answers will give you inspiration and new views.
This time I’m interviewing Pascal Wheeler, founder of British start-up Raffle.it. This is a peer to peer marketplace based on the raffle as the trading mechanism. Although Wheeler and his team are still “stuck on the fund raising roller-coaster”, they’ve soft-launched the service. For now, selling is limited to invite only users as Wheeler wants to avoid unnecessary disappointment. Yet in the near future, Raffle.it could be an interesting new player in the field of online trading. In this edition of Five Questions for Start-ups, Wheeler explains why.
How did you come up with the idea of Raffle.it?
“Raffle.it came from a gut feeling that there was a better way to buy and sell. No science, little research (at that time) and not a great deal of brain time, just one of those ‘there’s a better way’ feelings. Raffles are such a powerful mechanism for channeling common interest but are so often overlooked and underestimated – raffles are for school and village fetes, and for charities to raise a little extra cash. Not so! People that enter a raffle do so because of their interest in the prize or their interest in the beneficiary. With a couple of tweaks Raffle.it was borne to be used by anyone – for good cause, personal gain, or commercial awareness.”
What was your biggest challenge during the development process?
“I think I’m not alone when I say marrying ambitions and desires with budgets is far harder than you can ever imagine at the outset. Shortly after finding our first investors a friend said to me, “Spend every £10,000 like it was your absolute last”. I thought I was but looking back over the last year I know we could have saved several £10,000’s by truly heeding his advise.”
Can you describe the British start-up culture compared to Silicon Valley?
“I’ve been totally naive to the start-up culture of England. I’d always followed other start-ups’ developments but never felt that Raffle.it qualified. I think there’s a good base of support in England with a wide range of early stage investors and venture capitalists. My experience with raising money here is that it really does take 2-3 times longer than you have 100% convinced yourself it would. We all think we’re different, our idea is so magical, so obvious that any angel or investment house will jump at the chance. But so many different ideas actually make us all the same. The web scene over here is thriving with many great ideas and people shinning through its a great place to begin your journey, and I’m beginning to realise now that Raffle.it is a part of it.”
What will be the influence of your start-up on the next web?
“We might be revolutionising the humble raffle, but Raffle.it itself isn’t revolutionary. I’d love to say we’re going to change the web landscape but if we are I can’t see it right now. What we will do is take some of the great apps being developed by all the cool people out there and channel the relevant ones to our community of users. If, by channelling common interest, we can make lots of small differences to individuals both online and off, I’ll be a happy man. And if we complete this raffle this year I’ll be ecstatic!
You can make up this question yourself!
“I’d like to fire this one back at you Ernst, you fellow writers and of course everyone that has made it this far. Currently raffles are being created on an invite only basis while we gain momentum, very soon though it will be a free for all, so the question we love to ask everyone is …
What would you raffle?
We have an email address for these – firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject ‘I would raffle …’ – the ones that make us go ooh or ahh get free cash on their Raffle.it accounts.”