Meet James Hickson, Founder at Small to Medium Business Lending FinTech Company: Bloom

There is a global problem with startup funding. Particularly for eCommerce and Saas-based businesses. Bloom works to address those challenges.
Whether it’s issues relating to growth – where recurring revenue and SaaS businesses often have big chunky contracts, they can’t always access funds when they need them – or basic working capital challenges, such as those faced by eCommerce brands when they need to pay for inventory once it departs, while at the same time funding marketing spend and other fees.

Very few early stage companies have the capital they need to scale. And the funding options are limited, and often compromised. Bloom provides an alternative solution.
 
 

 

How did you come up with the idea for Bloom?

 
Bloom was built to provide transparent, fair funding to make good businesses great. That’s our ethos. And it started because of two really quite shocking statistics.

The first is that only 2.5% of female-led businesses are funded. We have a global problem of business bias, and I feel strongly about addressing that.
The second is that 40-45% of all capital raised is then spent with Google, Amazon, or Facebook, with equity being given up for marketing spend. That’s something that businesses simply can’t get back. With accessible revenue streams, businesses can do all the marketing they need, without giving their business away. And that is something that Bloom can facilitate.
 

 

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

 
Entrepreneurship is really hard. We don’t celebrate failure as much as we should in Europe, but failure and getting knocked down were a key part of the Bloom journey. Because you can’t grow if you’re not prepared to take risks. But if I had to come up with three pieces of advice, they would be:

  • Start small – There’s no need to aim for huge wins if you’re just starting out. In my early 30s, I built and ran an eCommerce business alongside my day job. It wasn’t a game-changer. But it was a fantastic opportunity to learn.
  • Keep execution simple – At Bloom, we have seen brilliant companies fail because they have over complicated customer journeys or have failed to focus on the basics of SEO and conversion. Get the basics right and repeatable at the lowest possible cost. Then you’ll be in a good place to grow.
  • Build a camel not a unicorn – A self-sustaining bootstrapped business should be your aim. It’s not easy, but it is possible if you are just starting out. Focus on affordable and measurable growth, get your business fundamentals right (customer acquisition cost, ROAS, cost of goods etc.). And you’ll be well-positioned when the market bounces back.

 

What can we hope to see from Bloom in the future?

 
Despite our capital raise, Bloom is still a relatively young business, and we’ve got a plan for the future. In the short term, we’ll be announcing some material partnership deals as we launch our embedded finance product, and we’re shifting our SaaS funding product into beta alongside a new supply chain finance product.

But perhaps more importantly, we’ll be expanding into Europe alongside some well-known partners. Our aim has always been to unlock as many businesses as possible that are stuck in the cycle of capital punishment and help them go from good to great. And expanding into new territories is the best way to do that.