SPOKE, brainchild of CEO Ben Farren, is a menswear brand known for their flagship trousers with a flawless fit. Although he’d never worked in fashion, retail, or ecommerce, Farren was well acquainted with the struggle to find accurately fitting menswear, particularly trousers.
Anecdotally, he found this to be the case within his peer group. High street brands would discontinue a favorite model or particular fit, leaving him back at square one — and with different retailers sizing would vary from one purchase to the next. It seemed universally challenging to find a great fitting staple pair of pants.
Digging deeper, this seemed to be a problem that no one was attempting to solve. Large premium brands hadn’t evolved much in the last half century, lacking inclusive sizing options. Fully bespoke clothing, expensive and time intensive, was out of reach for most consumers. “Surely,” Farren thought, “there must be a happy medium between these options?”
A year of experimentation later, and he’d determined product market fit. With funding help from friends and family, the idea evolved into a business that saw traction early on. SPOKE became the go-to brand for men in search of the sweet spot between bespoke and ready-to-wear clothing.
As SPOKE continued to catch on, COO Adam Woodhouse was brought in to guide its growth. By his own admission, “COO is often a catchall title for many things.” While the majority of his focus is centered around planning and scaling for growth, he spends a considerable amount of his time on fundraising and financing transactions.
Tasked with investigating different funding options, Adam approached the project systematically. He had previous experience with venture debt, so he got to work collecting term sheets, in order to present specifics to the board.
“Let's map out the landscape here,” thought Adam, when trying to find the best partners to help SPOKE scale. “Let's speak to every serious operator in this space. Let's upskill ourselves. Let's find out what the pricing for revenue-based financing actually looks like for our business.”
It felt important to make an educated decision knowing the full range of available options along with their all-in pricing.
“We're not a business that spends even 5 or 10 grand without pausing for a second to think about it, right?” says Adam. “So, the idea that there's a draw down transaction cost of 15 grand buried in the settlement gives us pause – that's real money.”
“We're not a business that spends even 5 or 10 grand without pausing for a second to think about it, right?”
Ultimately, Wayflyer’s transparent pricing without additional fees won out against the other funding methods SPOKE investigated. Another value-add for Woodhouse was the ability to move fast. “Revenue-based financing took hours, days at the most”, he continued, “and whilst I can't really put a price on that, that's a significant part of the value equation.”
The SPOKE team invested funding almost entirely on growth marketing, with the majority of the facility diverted to channels with proven success. They were also able to experiment with uncharted territory, building a brand presence on YouTube and testing out direct mail in the United States.
“The funding definitely helped us spend money with confidence in a way that we probably wouldn't have otherwise,” says Adam.
“The funding definitely helped us spend money with confidence in a way that we probably wouldn't have otherwise."
With the 2 million in funding from Wayflyer, SPOKE was able to acquire 30,000 new customers. In the day-to-day, Adam still derives value from Wayflyer’s straightforward processes. He sits down with the finance team weekly to check in on cash flow and review all payments the business makes.
“The fact that you deploy money directly to the bank account, and we're not managing a platform separately elsewhere – I get a benefit from that every single week,” he explains.