INVESTING IN CREATIVITY THROUGH TECHNOLOGY
Coral Reef invests in technology and creativity to grow world class businesses. We look to equip people who have ambitious ideas with the investment, resources and advice that best enable them to achieve their vision.
Creativity is core to what we do, whether that be in new business models, novel routes to market or great product design.
It’s impossible to lead without breaking new ground.
How can we use the latest technological developments to build valuable tools for parents?
Parenting is life changing. First time parents need to digest a tidal wave of information and advice. Second time parents need ways to squeeze more time out of every day. Mobile technology, rich media social networks, recommendation engines and efficient ecommerce offer the opportunity to improve the existing parenting resources. TantrumXYZ offers a shop, community and content for parents using these technological advances.
How do you best serve and grow the Maker Movement?
Falling compute costs, decreasing energy requirements and simplification of coding languages has made hardware and software development widely accessible and their use cases multitude. These changes have enabled the 'Internet of Things' and 'Maker Movement' phenomenon. Pimoroni is a market leader in creating and supplying products to the fast growing grass roots of this dynamic - the retail and DIY community of hackers and hobbyists.
How do you build communities to connect creative people with commercial opportunities?
The traditional CV-based professional networking solutions don't really fit the creative industries. Creative credentials are more visual in nature, and employment often requires collaboration beyond existing networks. The Dots is a tailor-made solution for everyone involved in the creative process, that allows them to showcase work, network, collaborate and commercialise in a way that makes sense to them.
How do you mend mobile shopping?
Buying items on a mobile is such a pain that many people just give up. UB.IO enables shoppers to pay for multiple items from multiple retailers in a single transaction. UB.IO gives mobile shopping aggregators and affiliates a universal basket which can increase conversion rates by as much as 5x.
How can a brand's marketing be market leading?
New media channels promise breakthrough marketing opportunities but they require new forms of content, new production methods and new distribution strategies. Vidsy’s community sourced videos offer native, social, local content that is ‘always-on’. Their distribution is data lead. Content is tailored to users and A/B tested to optimise its impact.
How can people create personalised tools in a large organisation?
Fliplet allows people to build apps themselves. They can build as many apps as they want; tailoring them to a specific event, task or client. Democratising app creation allows for innovation to bubble up through an organisation rather than be led top down. It also dramatically reduces development expenditure, lead times and ongoing maintenance costs.
How do you give people control over their personal data while connecting them with the apps they want?
A person’s data is of most interest and value to them personally. Digi.Me allows people to reclaim and manage information about themselves that currently sits with third parties online. A user can then decide what to do with that data - view it for themselves or allow access to third parties as and when they want to.
How do you improve a fan's experience with their favourite artist?
SupaPass acts as a direct and dedicated channel between a fan and their favourite artists. This allows the artists to enrich communication, create vibrant communities and offer exclusive content to their closest fans.
How can you cut through the noise to really understand what's going on?
We now have access to more information than ever before. The issue we have now is: how do we navigate the information? Particularly for complicated topics such as politics that are subject to spin, misinformation and over-simplification. Root Matter is a tool to help people understand and form a view on complicated or debated topics.
WHAT WE LOOK FOR IN INVESTMENTS
There is no template for success when working with novel ideas however some of the guidelines we use to identify businesses to invest in are:
We are looking for creative new products, services and business models that make a significant difference to their users. They have to be sufficiently novel, scalable and ambitious to justify the inherent risks of high growth businesses.
We enjoy working with exceptional teams. We look to work with intelligent and driven people who not only perform well in their roles but also operate at a strategic and innovative level.
POSITIVE MARKET DYNAMICS
We want to understand the market a business is in but as importantly how the market is changing, what the competition are doing, how the business is going to reach the market and how it is going to generate and maintain a strategic advantage.
We target businesses that can demonstrate a demand and an ability to service that demand - preferably with revenue or user data. We do invest in pre-revenue businesses but the forecast assumptions should be tested where possible or strong supporting evidence provided.
We invest in early stage businesses - either the majority of a seed round or part of a series A
We are lucky to receive lots of pitches. The flip side of this is unfortunately we don't have much time to spend considering each one. So to help you cut through the noise and get us up to speed quickly we've provided some guidance below on what to send us:
1. PLEASE READ "WHAT WE LOOK FOR"
This gives you a broad idea of how we review and evaluate investments and will save you time if you don't believe we're a good fit.
2. CLEARLY DEFINE THE PAIN POINT YOU'RE TRYING TO SOLVE Perhaps provide a case study or walk through an example. We are looking to see a pain point that is large enough to be worth solving.
3. DESCRIBE YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE
We want to understand the key features, how these address the pain points, what you have produced so far, how much remains to be developed and how long you think it'll take you to do this. Links to demo videos and websites are helpful if you have them.
4. DESCRIBE YOUR MARKETPLACE
We want to get a clear understanding of what the market is doing now, where you believe the market is heading and why you are best placed to take advantage of this. We suggest you consider market demographics (including TAM, SAM, TM), the key drivers impacting the market, your position within the supply chain and your routes to market.
5. MAP YOUR COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE
This is an area many businesses struggle with (nb: "I don't have any competition" is rarely the right answer - if customers aren't using you then what are they doing? Also a 2x2 matrix very rarely gives enough detail on its own). A table with key business features along the top and competitors down the side is often helpful. Highlight your differentiators. Linking these back to market dynamics will reinforce your business case. Also consider your 'defensibility' in the long run - are you going to be able to maintain your competitive advantage?
6. TRACTION - WHAT YOU'VE ACHIEVED SO FAR
Many of the challenges above melt away if you can demonstrate healthy operational metrics that validate your business plan. Key metrics we look for are: MVP trials/case studies, unpaid/paid users, growth rates, retention rates, CAC, LTV, revenue. Please note we will consider pre-revenue businesses but we will rarely look at businesses that need substantial R&D costs funding or haven't demonstrated some demand from the market.
7. FUTURE PLANS
We want to understand the short and long term plans for your business. Keep these high-level in the pitch document - we can always come back and ask for more details. Things we look for include: product development timelines, route to market strategy, projected user uptake/revenue, projected costs, burn rate, runway, uses of investment funds, and future fundraising plans. Given the uncertainty around many of the forecasts (particularly revenue) we ask that you make your assumptions clear and try to benchmark them to similar businesses where possible.
Please provide a summary of your team's experience and achievements. We want to see that you've got a good mix of skillsets. Include board advisors if applicable.
WHO WE ARE
Coral Reef was set up by
Ben Wynne-Simmons to coordinate efforts towards building successful businesses. We operate as an extended network of investors, founders and operational experts working to support ground breaking projects.
GETTING IN TOUCH
Unfortunately due to the volume of inbound email we receive we are only able to respond to referrals from one of our network.