ECS alumnus Nick Hatter raises £35,000 in a few days via crowdfunding

Nick Hatter graduated from ECS in 2012. After working for Internet Security company Netcraft, Nick founded his own venture, giftgaming, a non-intrusive in-game advertising platform. He shares his story with us.

My story

Once upon a time, I told people in ECS that I was going to make a lot of money. And I did, for a short while, whilst living in a bachelor pad in the centre of Bath. But I soon realised that money wasn’t the only thing I wanted out of life, and that I wanted a deeper personal fulfilment. For me, that meant starting a company so I could unleash my creativity, work towards my full potential and expand my horizons further than before.

What giftgaming is

giftgaming is a non-intrusive in-game advertising platform, where game developers integrate plugins into their games. This causes a gift icon to appear. If the player taps the gift icon, they get a free power-up and a coupon. This provides a non-intrusive way to monetise games whilst advertising brands.

Surreal experiences

Winning TechCrunch London Meetup was surreal. Pitching to 2,000 people at TechCrunch Disrupt Europe was even more so. My housemate telling me that she saw me in a magazine (WIRED) that a guy next to her was reading whilst on a flight to Barcelona, was probably the craziest. In addition, I recently received an invite from HRH The Duke of York to go to St James’ Palace, and we took part in their People’s Choice Award competition.

But I think that one of the craziest things so far is raising £35,000 via Seedrs crowdfunding in a few days. Investors can invest as little as ~£19 (and still can). One person invested as much as £9,000. We’re probably going to keep investment open until we reach £150,000.

Below: Nick (centre) at a recent startup event


How it all started

After going to Cambridge Startup Weekend, I decided that Cambridge was where I wanted to start giftgaming. It was there I met Accelerate Cambridge (a startup accelerator), who later took me under their wing as part of the Cambridge Judge Business School.

What ECS has given me

Graduating from ECS gave me a solid technical foundation, and since starting my company, I’ve built on this foundation by learning C++, C#, Scala (Java’s sexier sibling), The Lift Framework (used by Foursquare), Android, iOS, as well as many useful business skills. A startup can be the ultimate learning experience.

Words of advice

ECS has an incredible track record for employment, with students being snapped up before they’ve even graduated (myself included). And ECS students can land themselves a £30 to 40k+ starting salary straight out of university. But I must warn you: a high salary is very dangerous.

If you have any ambition to start a company, stay the hell away from high salaries. You will get used to the luxury lifestyle, bachelor(ette) pads and the shiny things. And trying to write the “perfect business plan” is the equivalent of using the “Waterfall Development Model” in the startup world.

So if you want to start a company, just do it.