The Bicycle Academy raises £40k in 6 days for start-up

The Bicycle Academy is tipped to be fastest ‘crowd-funded’ enterprise in UK, thanks to a new website developed by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s team.

New enterprise, The Bicycle Academy, which gives people skills to build bikes to send to Africa, is ready for business thanks to a new website developed by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s team at Keo Films.

The Bicycle Academy, one of’s launch projects, smashed it’s £40,000 funding requirement target, in less than a week and is thought to be the fastest ‘crowd-funded’ project in the UK.

The money was needed in order set up an innovative bicycle building academy. Students at the academy will learn how to build a bike frame, the first of which, once completed, is distributed to Africa through partner charities. The bikes can help provide a vital transport link to food, water and education.

The Bicycle Academy were over the moon when they hit their target. Andrew Denham, founder and organiser comments: “ We couldn’t be happier. We’ve been working towards this for some time, so its a great feeling knowing that we’ll definitely be setting it all up as planned. The response to our Peoplefund campaign has been overwhelming, not only did we sell all the available course places but we’ve generated a
healthy waiting list too.“

The team believe it is the fastest ‘crowd-funded’ venture in the UK ever. ‘Crowd-funding’ or ‘social-funding’ is an increasingly popular way of raising money, where the general public get together to pool their cash to back an business idea, typically using the internet to network. Famously, the thought provoking climate change film, The Age of Stupid, was funded this way. enables people with a potentially world-changing business idea to ask the general public for the funding they need to set up or expand. The business sets a target for how much money it wants to raise, and explains what it will do with the cash. People can then make make pledges of small amounts of money in return for ‘a reward’ if the target funding is raised.

‘It’s a simple, but powerful, idea,’ says Keo Digital MD, Nick Underhill. ’In the case of a sustainable bakery, the bakery might pledge to give each of its ‘pledgers’ free bread in return for a small cash investment. Then when it hits target, not only has the bakery raised the cash, it has also generated its own set of customers instantly. Pledges start at £1 and money doesn’t leave anyone’s account until the target is raised.’

Key to the proposition is that featured projects make a positive difference for the better. “We are looking for good ideas, that might just change the world. We want to empower people to take positive action,” says Nick.

Business ideas can come from anywhere, as long as they solve a 21st century challenge. The site has sections for community, heath, environmental, food, energy and recreational ventures. Other ideas which are currently looking for funding are The Chicken Shop, a free-range chicken shop; Sustaination, which connects local food buyers with sellers and Raise the Dough, a sustainable bakery. has been developed by KEO, the BAFTA-award winning media production company set up around Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and River Cottage. The KEO team have built up a unrivalled reputation for media innovation with their Fish Fight Campaign, Energyshare, Landshare and the Oscar nominated Banksy film, ‘Exit Behind the Gift Shop.’

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, chef, campaigner, presenter and director at KEO films, says: “The success of our Fish Fight, Landshare, and Energyshare campaigns have shown that solutions often come from grass roots collective action, and have the power to effect more remarkable change than we really ever imagined. builds on that momentum, and gives people the means to take their ideas forward.
That, in a nutshell, is why I’m excited about”

“ aims to be the first widely used platform enabling people to come together to invest in businesses and entrepreneurs with game-changing ideas to create solutions to some of the biggest
challenges of the 21st century. And, in doing so, help to launch the next generation of entrepreneurs, businesses and empowered individuals,” said Rob Love, Director, Keo. might just change the world…

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