Lazy Cookie HK: How They Raised USD$240k
Left most: Chris Barber (first investor), Left front: Sharon Chung (PR and marketing manager), Left back: Lug Giroud (Founder), Middle: Vivian Meriguet (Founder), Right back: Edern Le Faou (Founder), Right most: Calvin Kwan (Web developer).
This interview with Lazy Cookie’s Sharon Chung was conducted and condensed by Maria Antonia of EntrepreneurHK (EHK).
1. How did Lazy Cookie fund itself at first (friends/family/own pockets)? How much?
Sharon: On the day we decided to setup Lazy Cookie, we walked into an investor in the bar. And then, poof! We got ourselves all the money we needed. Obviously I’m joking!
I’m getting pitched online projects constantly so I am used to determining what ideas will work, and if the people that want to make it happen will be talented enough. The 2 most brilliant content creators I met who are also marketing geniuses came to see me and pitched me the idea. Their plan for years to come in terms of development was clear and smart. I could tell that they took the time to work on their idea. They wanted a small amount of money to get the project started and also our experience and guidance in having a successful startup. Me and my two business partners put in together roughly USD $20,000 from our pockets for the setup and website development. Then, Lazy Cookie was born.
2. In less than 25 days, you’ve managed to get 200K visits to your website, how did you do that?
Sharon: Fortunately enough, we had all been working in the digital marketing field for many years at that time already. In the early stage we leveraged on our existing network in HK and also our technical know-how to build the initial community base. We already knew how to build an effective, usable website very well and very fast, so we created viral content and distributed it strategically on social networks. Our website started to gain momentum. During our content creation tests we confirmed that the HK market has a very picky and yet distinctive taste on viral content. For example, in France you can get easy success with bunch of cute cats, in HK however, everybody has a bunch of cute cats. The same content that worked for French wouldn’t work for Hong Kong people. So far we have had great success with stories about cultural differences among different cultural groups, changes in Hong Kong history, the curious life on MTR etc. One interesting thing is that Hong Kong people react incredibly favorably to the emotion of “Indignation”. Not sadness, not fear, and not guilt. The response we get from indignant content was is great. Here is an example: http://hk.lazycookie.com/5545/they-didnt-want-their-daughter-to-sit-next-to-this-man-what-happens-next-is-unbelievable/
Whatever your opinion is on the Umbrella Revolution, the fact that many Hong Kong people feel indignation as one of their most powerful emotion - is simply not arguable.
3. Okay, let’s talk about the outside investment. Why did you decide to raise money?
Sharon: If we wanted to stay the size that we are now and be happy with our steadily growing readership, we would not have to bother raising funds. The truth is, that seeing the success we have now, we think it’d be a sin to not expand the business into other countries. Also, it has to be fast. Getting external investment allows us to walk much further and at a much quicker pace. We had to show stats and numbers to convince some of the investors, but we also had to reject some to avoid diluting our own share of the company too much.
4. First investment. Where did this investor(s) came from?
Sharon: It’s all about leveraging your network and finding someone who resonates with your product/company. Our first outside investor was a friend of ours and he has already seen our past success in other web marketing projects. He always wanted to chip in for the next project. So once Lazy Cookie was up and running, we pitched him. He was sold at the instant.
5. What was your elevator pitch?
Sharon: Lazy Cookie produces the most engaging content in the country. We know what we’re doing. Plus, the demand for native advertising is higher than ever. We strongly believe that we can confidently expand to the East and replicate the success.
6. What did you learn in this fund raising experience?
1. Have a strong idea and always validate with stats and data.
2. Network is your closest goldmine, build it and leverage on it.
3. No matter how much you hate it, there will be LOADS of admin work. Deal with it.
4. It is not going to be a short, smooth ride. Accept that fact and it can be the most exciting experience in your life.