“Work like there is someone working twenty-four hours a day to take it all away from you.” – Mark Cuban
What we managed to achieve
It has been a year since we first launched CityFALCON, and it would be fair to say that we are extremely happy and excited about what we’ve achieved in this time. We raised £200K in our seed round from ‘smart’ investors, now have a team of thirteen FTEs, partnered with numerous brokers across the United Kingdom, and launched the beta version of our products at http://www.cityfalcon.com and http://www.CompareSpreadBetting.com.
Perhaps the biggest achievement of the year, and certainly the most important from a commercial perspective, was the credibility we have earned over the last few months. CityFALCON is no longer viewed as a bedroom operation; we are taken seriously as a legitimate business.
Another particular highlight was being featured on Sky News in their feature ‘The Entrepreneurs Who Use Computer Coding To Bring Their Ideas To Life’. Learning to code was one of the best investments of my time in recent years even though it was a massive challenge, and meant that I had to quit my ‘secure’ job.
Other small but helpful achievements include me being rated as 1 of the ’15 exceptional minds of 2015′ by IPSE, the largest association of independent professionals in the EU, and we receiving a free one-day booth worth $10K for May 2015 at the Collision conference in Vegas. All of this helps us greatly with PR and marketing.
We’ve been lucky, and are thankful
Much as the old idiom that you make your own luck rings true, it is always better whether investing in the markets or running your own business to be on the good side of luck, and CityFALCON has certainly benefited from its fair share of fortune in this respect. Also, with the vast amount of resources available for start-ups in the UK, we don’t think there could have been a better time to launch this venture. Apart from our employees, investors, and advisors, we want to shout out to the following for their support without which we could have struggled:
- Level39, the FinTech accelerator – Posh Canary Wharf address, excellent working space, mentoring, relevant workshops, networking opportunities and all for an extremely low cost.
- UK Government and HMRC – SEIS made raising of funds relatively easy; R&D credits will help us keep our costs down; we were offered free space in vacant government premises, and most importantly, they spent time on the phone with me helping me with the documentation!
- Google – $100,000 credit to host our application on their state-of-art infrastructure.
- FCA – Their ‘Innovation Hub’ team spent half a day with us explaining when we need to be authorised and the process to follow, saving us £££.
- Twitter – Our start-up would have struggled to get off the ground without their free API to access financial tweets.
- Developers who contribute to open-source tools – Everything from Ruby on Rails to Ruby gems and plug-ins made our lives much simpler.
- Entrepreneurs and innovators who offer fabulous products at reasonable prices or for free:
- Cloud66.com helped us manage our servers, and backups, and to move easily between cloud providers for a small fee.
- InformDirect.co.uk allowed us to complete Companies House documentation with ease, and most of their services are free.
- LastPass allowed us to securely share passwords within the team.
- eLance made it easy for us to hire the right people, and most of the formalities were automated.
- Seismarket.co.uk helped us build our SEIS pre-approval pack for free.
Of course, just as the markets go up and down, and it is impossible to be on the right side of trends all the time, by the same token not everything has gone to plan during the year. The nature of running a business of this size and nature in the competitive world in which we are living means we need to continually evaluate our decision and ‘pivot’ where required.
Things can always be done differently. None of us are infallible, and it is obvious that a few things won’t go according to plan when taking on such an ambitious project as building CityFALCON. With this in mind, I would certainly have tested my code more seriously if I had the time again. Additionally, attending demonstration events and pitches early on without the credibility that the business has since build up was something of a waste of time.
Working 15 hour days while writing the code, managing the team, and agreeing contracts and partnerships has been a gruelling workload, but given my passion for what we are doing, it has in fact flown by. Overall, it is a year of which we are extremely proud, and we’re equally enthusiastic and passionate about the future of CityFALCON!