Vulpine have been producing cycling clothing since 2012. Their sales have doubled year on year, with their turnover in 2014 reaching £996,000.
How and why would we know this? Because Vulpine are raising capital to expand, and they are asking their customers to be the investors.
Vulpine’s style revolves around the idea that you can purchase high quality, practical cycling clothing, which looks just as good at the pub as it does on the bike. They have actively been pursuing the female cycling market alongside the men’s, something a few other clothing companies could take a cue from, and have seen that section of their business grow rapidly, now representing more than 30% of their sales.
But one unexpected area of growth for the company has come from outside the UK. The Asian market, particularly South Korea and Japan, together with the US have been pursuing Vulpine’s products, valuing both the quality and the pull of British styling.
“25% of our online sales are coming in from Japan, South Korea and the US, and that’s without us trying.” Nick Hussey, founder of Vulpine cycling apparel said. The market seems to be wide open for expansion and growth of the company.
Vulpine are looking to raise £500,000 via Crowdcube to explore these emerging markets, as well as to produce a new ‘Made in Britain’ range, which will be manufactured in Blackburn. His reasoning is clear, “Made in Britain has become very desirable, especially to Asian consumers.”
In exchange for the £500,000 investment, Vulpine are offering a little under 10% of their company as shares, but have reportedly turned down private investors in favour of crowdfunding via Crowd Cube.
Crowd Cube crowdfunding provide a platform through which a private company can raise capital to grow their business, but rather than relying on the closed off world of venture capitalism, they draw on a community of interested micro lenders.
Darren Westlake, one of the Crowd Cube crowdfunding founders, said “We wanted to open things up to ordinary people, investing was too elitist”, to take away the reliance on banks or the small number of people with the capital to decide the success of a company, and open up the investment opportunities to everyone. While Vulpine are offering benefits to those able to contribute more to the campaign, the platform allows investments of as little as £10.
Vulpine market themselves on producing cycling clothing for everyone, whoever you are and however you ride. There is certainly a sense of elitism with some of the popular brands of cycling clothing, dictating who will wear their clothing and in what context by the ranges they stock. Perhaps then, this idea of democratising investment by crowdfunding fits nicely into how Vulpine wants to be perceived.
What sort of value does all this offer to us as customers, and potentially investors? Crowd Cube seem to be purposefully vague as to the pros and cons of investing, with an emphasis on steering clear unless you know what you are doing. I think I’ll take their example and do the same. After all, we are old enough to make our own decisions.
Blog Update – The Crowdfunding period ended 1st of November 2015. With the huge success of the campaign, Vulpine exceeded their target a little more than half way through the campaigning period.
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