Flexible fundraising is helping Academy of Robotics to scale its operations to meet the growing demand for its autonomous robotic technology. SeedLegals’ SeedFAST product has helped the company behind Kar-go, Europe’s first street-legal vehicle designed for autonomous delivery, to close 80 deals worth over £4 million and save over £10,000 in legal fees.*
The elevator pitch 🚀
Academy of Robotics is a technology company which provides autonomous robotics to solve the challenge of moving anything from A to B. We create technology to help large organisations to move items from A to B without increasing financial or environmental costs.
Our flagship project is Kar-go, a complete autonomous delivery system which enables organisations to simply plug-in our tech, delivering automated vehicle solutions in weeks, not years.
The company was founded by serial entrepreneur William Sachiti in 2016, a year after his previous company was acquired by Secret Escapes.
The challenge: Time ⏰
In 2018 Founder and CEO of Academy of Robotics, William Sachiti became one of our first customers. “Back then, we were a small startup with a big idea,” says William. “We had to keep our operation as lean as possible, so we primarily used SeedLegals to keep our costs down.”
But William quickly realised that there was more to SeedLegals than simply providing affordable legal services.
A serial entrepreneur, who had recently exited his last business to Secret Escapes and a major taxi company, he already had a strong investor network. The combination of his own network and a recent crowdfunding campaign meant he needed to set up over 300 people as investors in the company.
“Persuading someone to invest in your company is just part of the challenge. Many investors are often happy to invest the funds, but just don’t have the time to spend on the administrative side of this. Some of our investors are some of the most successful professional investors in the UK, but when they’re investing in a private capacity they are particularly time-poor.”
“When you’re a startup CEO, your time is incredibly precious and you need to be careful to allocate time to the work that is really driving your business forwards. That could mean you turn away smaller investments, so the real beauty of SeedLegals is the way it takes the pain away from both the investor and the business.
Using SeedLegals we’ve gone from meeting an investor to agreeing terms to paperwork being issued and signed and money transferred in less than 3 minutes!”
Having been running road trials with their autonomous vehicles since November 2020 with high profile trials ranging from supporting airbase logistics for the Royal Air Force to delivering medicines during the pandemic, the company has attracted a lot of attention. With a steady stream of investment enquiries, they are adding over 400 new investors this year alone.
“We’re always being asked about investment opportunities ranging from investing a few hundred pounds to hundreds of thousands so it’s important for us to be able to offer multiple routes to invest in our company.
“Raising investment from retail investors is, in many ways, more complicated than from your typical VC, which I’d done at my previous company, but SeedLegals streamlines the whole process. Without companies like SeedLegals, onboarding hundreds of investors and setting up all the legal documents for this would be prohibitively expensive and incredibly time-consuming,” adds William.
How SeedLegals helped? 🌱
1. Integrating with crowdfunding legals
At SeedLegals, we have the expertise to guide users through the crowdfunding process, having worked as a hybrid on over 200 crowd rounds.
It means that startups like Academy of Robotics can rely on us during and/or after a crowdfund.
By using SeedLegals to assist your crowdfunding rounds:
- You have our investment experts in your corner to answer questions from the crowdfund company (which there often are!) and push back on any unusual terms.
- You can rely on us to cater for specific angel and VC requests that often come in from private investors. Usually the crowdfund platforms will have their templates, but angel/VC investors often have further requests from there.
2. Raising smaller funds on an ongoing basis
Since their initial crowdfunding campaign, William’s team learned about some of the newer benefits to the SeedLegals platform. This included the SeedFAST feature, launched in 2019, which allows investors to subscribe for shares in a company’s next funding round in exchange for cash now.
“SeedFASTs have been somewhat of a revelation,” says William. “We’ve been using it extensively during the last few years to raise anything from £500 to £100,000 on an ongoing basis.”
SeedFAST benefits both Academy of Robotics and its investors, which William finds compelling.
“Timing is everything,” adds William “SeedFasts benefits us because it means we can close funding opportunities as soon as they present themselves and it benefits our investors, who get a slight discount on future shares and don’t have to wait for a big fundraising opportunity to invest. Using SeedFast agreements we can be continually open for investment.”
A number of the company’s current investors have been investors for several years now since its first crowdfunding round or since it premiered its Kar-go Delivery Bot vehicles at Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2019. As the company has hit further milestones like its vehicles being officially recognised as roadworthy by the DVSA and licensed to travel on roads across the UK, some of these investors have wanted to increase their investments and SeedLegals has facilitated that process.
“Simple functions like auto-filling personal details for people already on the platform make a big difference when you’re managing hundreds of investors. We can generate an agreement for existing users of the SeedLegals platform in seconds making it much easier for them to top-up and increase their investments.”
The impact: 📣
Academy of Robotics has used SeedLegals to close over £4M from government and private investors since 2018, working as part of their broader £20M raise.
“I think it’s fair to say that the fast and low-cost legal facilities that SeedLegals provides has enabled us to open up investment opportunities in Academy of Robotics in a way that just wouldn’t have been practical without them, meaning we can maintain a lean organisation focused on innovation and R&D and retain a higher degree of independence to move at a rapid, yet responsible pace.” says William.
The company has filed many complex patents and continues to add to their list of patents.
“We’re powering forward,” says William. “We’ve acquired a major new site, a 26 acre radar base in the UK this year, complete with our own testing track. We’re currently renovating this heritage site to restore its role as a beacon of technological excellence, adapting its existing hangars and military offices to become state-of-the-art offices and manufacturing facilities for autonomous robotic research and development.”
The new site will allow Academy of Robotics to ramp up production of their autonomous delivery vehicles (along with further yet-to-be-launched innovations which the company is currently developing for its customers in the construction and healthcare sector) as well as helping them to expand their existing logistics work with the Royal Air Force.
“With the support of partners like SeedLegals, we’ve also been doing our bit to help the next generation of innovators with the launch of an audio course on Clubhouse. We explore a range of topics, from running a startup to product design, convergence of tech and culture.”
*We’ve estimated the money saved on legal fees by comparing the cost of using SeedLegals with the cost of using a law firm which, according to our research, will charge an average fee of 0.85% of the amount raised.
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