Cornerstone

Business Name:  Cornerstone

Support received:  Start Up Loan

Location:  London

Website:  https://www.cornerstone.co.uk/


Selling exclusively over the web through cornerstone.co.uk, Cornerstone offers a regular, flexible delivery of razors and men’s shaving products meaning that men always have everything they need for a great shave. Oliver Bridge, a graduate of Oxford University, worked in marketing and then venture capital before embarking on his entrepreneurial journey.

The team secured £898,000 investment with a crowdfunding campaign to help grow their business.  With a strong vision for the business, Oliver went on to secure backing from a group of angel investors – raising a further £160,000.

We spoke to Oliver about the development of his idea and the support that helped implement it.

How have the London Small Business Centre supported you?

When I started Cornerstone I was living in Shoreditch at the time and had heard good things about some of the work that the London Small Business Centre had been doing. When I decided to apply for a £5,000 Start Up Loan to raise some seed finance, it was a natural choice to go and speak to them.

When I applied for the Start Up Loan, my advisor Jim was very challenging (in a good way) and got me to think through my business plan in thorough detail – this ultimately helped when I went on to the angel investors later that year.

Tell us more about the idea and motivation behind Cornerstone?

As a consumer, I had never enjoyed shaving – it was uncomfortable, the products were too expensive, and when I finally got round to replacing my blunt razors, I had to spend my lunchtime queuing in Boots. I thought there had to be a better way. So, I created Cornerstone.

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“When I applied for the Start Up Loan, my advisor Jim was very challenging (in a good way) and got me to think through my business plan in thorough detail – this ultimately helped when I went on to the angel investors later that year.”

How did you secure investors?

In 2015, I had an initial target to raise £500,000 by crowdfunding.  That target was surpassed and we secured a staggering £900,000.

We basically want to grow as fast as we can – that means hiring more staff, investing more in marketing, building up our stock – all things that require lots of cash!

I wanted to work with the best people in their field rather than trying to do everything myself. More broadly, I have built Cornerstone to be scalable so that we could handle a surge of orders if we had to without serious disruption – we have an outsourced logistics function and the website talks seamlessly to the team there – in theory, I could run the business from Starbucks on a laptop whilst we send out hundreds of parcels a day.

Then and now?

Having been trading for a couple of years now, the market hasn’t changed a great deal, but what we’ve done is prove to ourselves and our investors that we know how to tackle this market and give customers what they want – that’s made us investment-ready.

Cornerstone & beyond?

We are now working on convincing UK men that Cornerstone is a better way of shaving.

In five years, I hope to be leading Cornerstone into Europe and the US and in ten years, hopefully I’ll be relaxing on a beach somewhere.

Photographs: Copyright Oliver Bridge/Cornerstone

 

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