Two years ago Sharely won the SEIF Award for Future Trends, now we catch up with them to learn how things are going for them and the effect that being former SEIF awardees have on them and their company.
Why did you decide to apply for the SEIF Awards?
We apply for the SEIF Awards because they focus on sustainability and this was important for us. We want to have an impact, not to sell the company in the shortest amount of time so we wanted to go for a prize that focused on that. The award acts as a sustainability label. The money helped in making the decision, of course. But for us it was also important that a neutral jury thought that our idea was good.
How did you spend the money you won at the SEIF Awards?
The money from the Award helped us to survive for a few months; it gave us time to look for investment, something that it is very important for a young company. Without this money we would have to cut on the marketing, which would mean getting fewer customers, fewer revenues, etc.
Would you say that winning the Award gave visibility to your company?
Definitely. Right after the Award the number of visitors to our website when up by 16%, and the users registered by 23% during the 6 weeks after the Award.
Did you get media coverage and/or important business contacts as a result of winning the Award?
We didn’t get any as such but we did get very good advice from the Jury on how to proceed as a company, which was very beneficial in the long term.
Did winning the Award help you getting funding?
Not directly, but it helped us convincing investors, new partners and other backers because they can see how many applications for the Awards there were and the quality of the participant. We still use having won the Awards in our presentations. It helps us to show that we were supported. It works as a sign of external approval for our business and it creates trust, even if they don’t know SEIF.
Would you recommend other social entrepreneurs to take part in the Awards?
Yes, even if you don’t win. We took part twice. The first time we were “nominees”, but the second time we won. This was very important for us because it convinced us that you have a good product., and during the process you know other social entrepreneurs and you learn how to tell the story around your product. The whole process helps you to have a vision, to focus. This is very important, especially for impact investors.
So my advice is to take part more than once, if necessary. It helps you business-wise but also in giving you motivation to continue, which is essential, especially when you are no longer sure about what you are doing. It’s an appreciation of your work. Of course it is about the money, but winning the Award triggers that motivation. There are lots of people who started their SE after winning an award.