Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Doug Richard backs SEE Ltd....

...with some nice exposure on his website that is!

While expressing gratitude for this support, we reminded his team that he told Michael he would consider investing in SEE Ltd to which we got this response: "Doug invests in just 1 business of the more than 3,000 he's exposed to in a year. He chooses to actively promote less than 1 in 100 of those businesses on the School for Startups website. So his support for SEE is manifest."

When further pressed (one has to, right?) and in response to our "... but SEE is a 1 in 1,000,000 idea!", it was (patiently) explained that it is not about SEE Ltd not being a great investment opportunity, just it was not physically possible to add anything else into the busy ex-Dragon's Den dragon's insane schedule.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

More about crowd funding social business

Michael has contributed a few posts on Social Edge, a website of the Skoll Foundation that was inspired by Jeff Skoll's (eBay 'founder') commitment to connecting people with shared passions. To read more about SEE's crowd funding project and how it came about, other similar initiatives, and discussions around the subject, click here.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

What makes SEE so special?

What makes SEE so special is its ability to drive real openness and honesty right across business. And to galvanise businesses, consumers and civil society organisations into partnership in driving higher standards of Social, Environmental and Ethical practice.

The business model is also very special. We currently have 70 businesses signed up. They have joined because of the benefits of going through our evaluation process and because of the potentially greater benefits of carrying the SEE Logo and listing on SEEWhatYouAreBuyingInto.com. That is, they are motivated through self-interest.

But they are also, to varying extents, motivated by altruism. Because as more and more companies join the scheme, these founder members will raise public expectations that ALL businesses likewise provide clear and honest information about their SEE practices, and likewise demonstrate real transparency and accountability.

To put this in another way, our pitch to new businesses is this: join SEE because it will make you a better business AND because you will make the world a better place. This is something to get really excited about! This is what enables us to become a labelling scheme that is also part social movement.

Our proposed viral campaign is based on people nominating companies that they would like to see open up. It could not be simpler. And it is potentially very powerful, especially if people can easily share details of the businesses they have nominated and their reasons for doing so with their social network. In 2010, with all the challenges we face together, people SHOULD expect businesses to be open and honest. And good corporate citizens should embrace this as an opportunity to demonstrate their intents and to gain public trust.

The SEE What You Are Buying Into Logo can be an enormously powerful brand, carried by members of an increasingly influential network of businesses united in their desire to make good profits by being fair, open, honest and trustworthy. This is no "tree-hugging, sandal-wearing" campaign with unrealistic vision and unachievable standards. It is a very practical, pragmatic and potent way for businesses to prove they are doing their best. And, as such, it is a unique means for them to gain competitive advantage.

We believe SEE Ltd is the big one. The social business with the social product/service that causes a paradigm shift and creates incredible financial and 'SEE' value. Well this is certainly the opportunity and, having created it, we are hugely excited about where we have got to and about the months ahead.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

May 2008 to November 2010

In May 2008, once the 'crowd funding' debenture offer was finally launched, we swiftly raised £6,500. A few weeks later, despite having further investors willing to buy debenture units, we took the tough decision to put the offer on hold. We had to accept that the debenture had taken too long to organise and the company's debts were not going to be renegotiated as easily as anticipated.

However, help was at hand. After a series of emails over several months and one 20 minute telephone conversation, Michael had the great pleasure of meeting Mr Harry Halloran in early June 2008. Mr. Halloran has a long history as an entrepreneur, with senior positions in oil, transport, refining and construction industries. He is the CEO and Founder of Frontier Wind LLC and Energy Unlimited Inc and he maintains investments in a variety of cutting edge renewable energy businesses. He is a Board Member and former President of the American Wind Energy Association. Mr Halloran also has a track record in supporting schemes that seek to drive greater social, environmental and ethical responsibility in business, of which The SAIP Institute and B Lab are just two examples.

Within a week of this meeting a £177,230 investment had been agreed. This support saved the SEE scheme. In 2010 Mr Halloran invested a further £31,870.

In the 32 months from May 2008 to now (figures last updated 14 December 2010), the income of SEE Ltd was as follows:

Income source Amount
Bank interest £113.05
Client revenue £41,075.89
Debenture investment £6,500.00
Loans £21,412.00
Miscellaneous £6,092.09
Mr Halloran £209,098.90
Total £284,291.93

At May 2008 the total funds raised were calculated to be £215,000. Since then, as detailed in the table above, a further £284,292 has been raised. The grand total now stands just shy of half a million pounds. So the suggestion that the SEE scheme has never been properly funded may seem slightly bizarre. But, given the extent of the debts accrued to 2008 and the subsequent investment in a major rebranding and rebuild of our websites, we have had less than £200,000 at our disposal over the last 31 months, an average of around £6,400 per month. Mr Halloran's investments were made during the credit crunch, so it is an indication of his staunch commitment that the they were completed. But it was unavoidable that the investments were made in no less than 14 separate and unpredictable instalments. It has never been possible to anticipate when funds would come into the business, how much would come, or when. The constant uncertainty has made long term planning practically impossible.

Nonetheless, and while impatient for further success and for faster growth, we are proud of SEE's achievements and progress. We are excited about our current position and our future prospects which will be detailed in our next blog entry.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Basic questions about the SEE scheme and the debenture offer answered

With thanks to SEE listed business Charlotte Tolhurst Photography Ltd, we are pleased to publish a five minute film in which all the basic questions are answered. 14 quick fire questions - on both SEE Ltd's crowd funding offer and the SEE What You Are Buying Into scheme - are answered by Michael Solomon, SEE's founder.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

A debenture offer to raise £200,000

SEE What You Are Buying Into is a labelling scheme and social movement that will revolutionise the ways in which businesses establish and communicate their Social, Environmental and Ethical (SEE) credentials.

SEE What You Are Buying Into Ltd is re-opening its debenture offer to raise £200,000 in financing. In return for purchasing debenture units of £500 or £5,000, investors will receive a fixed proportion of the company's profits for ten consecutive years, and thereafter, have their initial investment amount repaid in full.

This crowd funding model (officially know as a "limited recourse debenture" offer) was used by the film The Age Of Stupid and has been approved by the same lawyers, Bates Wells & Braithwaite, a firm authorised by the Financial Services Authority. Following FSA rules and provisions of the Section 21 of the Finance Services and Markets Act 2000, full details of the offer can only be obtained on application.

SEE Ltd is a social business. It has developed the SEE scheme over a period of 8 years and operates it on a for-profit basis. In order to carry the SEE Logo, businesses must be open and honest. They must undergo a comprehensive evaluation and publish details of their SEE practices for public scrutiny and comment on www.SEEWhatYouAreBuyingInto.com  

The SEE scheme is the most challenging test of corporate responsibility that exists anywhere. At the time of writing, 70 businesses are participating. Signing up just 100 businesses per year could generate excellent financial returns. The potential social returns of genuine transparency across business are infinite.