Sean De Clercq: The Ripple Effect of Expanding Access to Funding
Welcome back! Spiffy here, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurship ecosystem builders working to make sure that funding is more equitable. Today I’m super excited to speak with Sean De Clercq, the CEO of Kickfurther. Let’s see what he’s doing!
Spiffy: Welcome Sean, it’s great to meet you. So, what challenge are you addressing?
Sean: Wonderful to meet you too, Spiffy. Did you know that every business that sells products has to pay to manufacture those products before they can earn revenue by selling those products? This problem creates a persistent cash flow gap for growing product businesses.
Spiffy: Now that you mention it, I didn’t know that! Can you tell us what motivated you to dig your hands into this problem?
Sean: There are two types of economic opportunity—selling your labor for money or getting a return on capital. Wealth is created by the latter (getting a return on capital) not the former. Kickfurther is a platform that allows anyone to pursue wealth creation through entrepreneurship or by supporting other entrepreneurs.
Spiffy: How would you say that Kickfurther is working to create a more equitable world?
Sean: Well, Spiffy, small and medium product businesses are underserved by traditional funding solutions. By expanding access to funding, we believe we are expanding opportunities for that entire market segment.
Spiffy: Have you reached any milestones that you’re particularly excited about?
Sean: We recently raised a $5.9 million Seed+ round, led by Tom Golisano and David Brown. This capital allows us to invest in the technology to serve more customers with our solution and invest in the marketing so more people are aware of our solution.
Spiffy: I’m always curious to hear how entrepreneurs handle failure. What about you? Can you tell us about a time that you experienced failure? What did you get out of it?
Sean: The very first thing I tried with Kickfurther was a pitch competition where we made it to the semifinals but then lost. I learned that it's important to understand who your audience is—and how you tell your story is as important as your story itself.
Spiffy: That is so true! Is there anything unexpected you’ve learned from someone recently?
Sean: I had an experience where I was on vacation on a beautiful beach with a friend. They got a sandwich that was just bread, meat and cheese. This upset them a lot and they couldn't stop complaining about how annoying and dry the sandwich was. We were on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, I paid for their food and drinks and it was a beautiful sunny day. That taught me that however good your circumstances are, you can make yourself miserable focusing on the negative. The converse is also true, that however miserable your circumstances are, you can be happier (or at least more at peace) by focusing on the positive.
Spiffy: Before we sign off, is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Sean: Everyone succeeds differently. Many people fail the same way. Don't try to emulate another's success, work to ensure you don't fail in a predictable way.
Spiffy: Now that’s something I’m going to mull over for a while. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, Sean, it’s been a pleasure.
Sean De Clercq, founder and CEO of Kickfurther, has worked in every aspect of the retail supply chain, from factory direct to the end user. He is a lifelong entrepreneur working to solve one of the hardest problems product businesses face—how to fund the production of their inventory. (Nominated by Impellent Ventures. First published on the Ladderworks website on September 1, 2021.)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews of founders building a more equitable world here.