Female entrepreneur favours the democracy of crowdfunding over traditional finance

Geraldine Grandidier, award-winning founder of Tidy Books, is set to fulfil her dream by expanding her business overseas, after rejecting other forms of finance and raising £105,600 on equity crowdfunding platform Crowdcube.

Tidy Books overfunded its original target of £75,000 by 140%, raising the capital from 116 investors for 11.35% equity. One evangelistic customer liked the product so much he put in £15,000.

Based in Waltham Forest, Geraldine Grandidier (aged 45) is a mother of two and a former violin-maker who in 2013 won a US Stevie award for female entrepreneurship. Tidy Books makes award-winning, innovative and eco-friendly storage and bookcases that get kids reading.

She set up the company in 2004 with £500 after she couldn’t find book shelves that were built with children in mind. The first bookcase was made in her violin workshop. When friends started asking for them, she knew she’d struck a chord. Now her range of innovative bookcases are made in bulk and sold in John Lewis and Mothercare (with more retailers in the pipeline).

Geraldine Grandidier explains, “Children are often distracted by today’s digital age and research shows that fewer children are reading for fun*, so as a result, are missing out on academic achievement and the pleasure of books. Our bookcases make their books easily accessible and get kids reading. As one customer put it, ‘My daughter looks at her books at every opportunity now she has this bookcase’.”

Previously she had loans from Barclays Bank as well as from Funding Circle. She prefers equity crowdfunding over angel investment at this early stage in the business, “because it is more democratic and there is a sense of mutual trust, fair valuation and partnership right from the start. It allows me and my team to focus our energies on creating the best business, and ultimately the investors will benefit.”

“I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of making a product that can be built into a business,” says Geraldine. “It’s a very scalable business and with this money I will replicate our success in Germany, France and Scandinavia for starters.”

Luke Lang, co-founder of Crowdcube adds, “Tidy Books has not just raised capital by funding on Crowdcube, it has gained a set of avid brand ambassadors with all sorts of business and other experience, who can help Geraldine expand the company into international markets.”

*Source: The Book Ownership Report 2011 by the National Literacy Trust found that owning books directly impacts on a child’s reading: 8 in 10 children who have books of their own at home are at, or above average reading levels.