Patch plants: how to grow a British start-up
Co-founder of successful London-based start-up, Patch, Freddie Blackett, explains how investors helped him access the skills he needed to grow his business.
Patch is a friendly and engaging website which aims to make buying and growing plants, both indoor and outdoor, easy, convenient and fun. “I stumbled on the problem that it’s hard to get hold of plants when you live in the city and it’s difficult to get into gardening,” explains the young CEO. Three-years on and Patch’s 40-strong team has delivered 300,000 plants to Londoners in the last 12 months alone – and a recently-opened Paris office is flourishing.
But it wasn’t an easy start for the company. “I had this idea, but I didn’t have the skills I needed to turn this idea into a website and build a supply chain etc.” Freddie explains.To plug the gap, Patch took funding from venture capital fund, Forward Partners, who could provide the fledgling brand with some much-needed expertise.
“Forward Partners helped me with all the practical stuff you need to get the business off the ground. They invested £250,000 in return for an equity stake, but in addition they also gave me tech support - they built the website and bought the idea to life.” They also helped Freddie hire the right team and were on hand to help with PR and Marketing. “They were basically an extension of Patch.”
And once things were off the ground, Freddie again looked to investors to provide the skills he needed to move his business forward. “12 months after the first cash injection to start things off, I reached out and found some experts, taking on angel investment from a small group of people – these were guys who had different expertise from across the board.”
Patch’s second round funders included the founder of Caffe Nero (a brand Freddie has always thought to be an enduring success) and a tech-specialist form Not On The High Street – the insight provided by both has since proved invaluable.
To bring the business on even further, Freddie then approached a large international investment house, Octopus Ventures. “This is a team that has helped us take the business to a more international level,” says the green-fingered co-founder, “Octopus are a big name in the venture capital world and they helped us steer the business and attract a higher calibre of people to our board.”