Stuart Macdonald
4 min readDec 11, 2017


Crowdfunding for dummies…How a small peanut butter brand raised £100k in half an hour.

The first jar of ManíLife

As I write this my cheeks burn red…

However, over the last 4 months I’ve spoken to dozens of people about how ManíLife, a young peanut butter brand I’m lucky enough to run, “absolutely smashed it” on crowdfunding platform Seedrs.

I figured it worth banishing my sheepishness and putting some of the ‘secrets of this success’ on metaphorical paper.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be posting a wee breakdown of how ManíLife became the number one trending crowdfunding campaign in the UK for 3 days and raised £280k in the process. It’s skewed towards FMCG but there’s hopefully some stuff in here for everyone!

This is part 1. Enjoy.

The long term lead up:

An increasingly uncommon (yet still quite common) misconception is the crowd will find and fund great companies — this is total bull crap/baloney. The crowd follows the crowd.

It’s all in the prep.

Quote about prep:

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Abraham Lincoln — renowned lumberjack.

Step 1 — Build your community & make it authentic— This is your inner circle and the people who are going to tell all their pals. The ManíLifer community is an eclectic bunch of world class individuals that is a source of genuine pride. It’s been built through events, friendships & shared struggles.

Ways to build yours:

  1. If you sell online call all your customers. Take the mega customers for a coffee — £90k of the first £100k ManíLife raised came from customers. NB don’t take them for coffee because you want their money…take them for coffee to say thanks!
Taste of London — where dreams are made ft. Sam Duff

2. Get them involved in actual company activities and decisions — ManíLifers sell product, work at events and even helped produce the first ton of peanut butter we made.

3. If you don’t sell online — Do a sh*t load of events & sample in store, take names, numbers, emails. Use them.

Step 2 — Find A LOT of your raise target before you go live — Recommended is to have 30% of your target pre raised before you go live… I’d say more (next week’s post to come on this).

NB — if you’re an early stage business, think people not pitch decks. To dos should include no more than:

  1. A well put together 1–3 yr cash flow forecast.
  2. A summary of your proposition, success to date (team, sales, awards) and size of the prize

Don’t spend weeks on a business plan- it’s going to change and will be skimmed through if you’re lucky.

NB 2 — if you’re raising silly ££ this probably needs more attention.

Ways to find yours:

  1. Lots and lots of coffees — Ask for advice before any mention of cash. Being asked for advice is flattering, being asked for money is occasionally insulting.
  2. Look for people who’ve recently exited businesses — their brains will be as useful as their money and chances are they still have the start-up itch.
The start up itch ft Baloo & Mogli

3. Study your online customer list — if someone’s ordering £1000s worth of your product chances are they want to see it taken to the next level.

Weeks before:

Step 1— Alert your wider “value add” community of what you’re going to do.

NB — This must instil excitement but more importantly this must instil URGENCY.

ManíLife sent out 20 handwritten sample packs to people we knew would add experience worth as much as their cash. The message was clear — we were going to hit our target quickly (obviously we had no idea if this was true…)and we wanted to make sure they didn’t miss out.

Step 2 — Set the date with your grass roots community.

NB — make them feel like part they’re part of an exclusive club (they are) but more importantly instil URGENCY .

The reason you do crowdfunding is to share what you’ve created with the people who love it and create evangelists in the process. Your customer base is ready and primed to be this.

Give them the chance to join the party and make it clear… you’re going to fill up quickly and you’d rather 100 genuine fans than than 1 stranger with deep pockets.

ManíLife sent an email to 2,000 online customers with an exclusive news flash… on 18th April at 8am we were open for business…in the form of crowdfunding… They were all invited…

The above is all pretty obvious stuff…but it is super important to do well. Your first 30% is always the hardest to find. ManíLife took just over 2 months to find ours.

Equally important is that your wider community are ready to pile in once the ball gets rolling.

Next week I’ll share thoughts on making a world class vid, setting your target and what to do once you go live.

Stay tuned 👊

Feel free to get in touch at

Feel freer to sample some of the magic at (Use code CFMani for 10% off)