Croudfunding is revolutionising the investment business. Individuals fed up with meagre returns from interest rates or pension pots can invest directly into companies at their embryonic stage in order to seed and see them grow along their product life cycle. They don’t need to be high net worth folks either.
Common wisdom would be to do everything you possibly can without seeking outside investment. Almost three quarters of entrepreneurs start their businesses with £2,000 or less. But when you need it, friends and families are a common starting point. If that’s not an option then it’s either lots of form filling and a sales pitch for a government grant or it’s cap-in-hand-time to your local bank. But banks want security and if you had any, you’d have sold it to fund this thing so that door can close pretty quickly.
Croudfunding is a chance to get seed money from business angels of all shapes and sizes. Plus it’s a marketing coup as you’ve exposed your brand and your company (even though its probably more an idea than reality at this stage) to a bunch of business minded folk.
Kickstarter is probably the pack leader. They’ve hosted scores of high profile projects. Amongst them is Pebble, a smartwatch project that set out in 2012 to raise $100,000 and start mass production; they raised over $10 million. The community behind the projects offer cash to ‘kickstart’ projects by way of purchasing a product that’s not yet being produced. This mass selling of future stock can allow the whole thing to get started whether that be a watch, a car, or a movie.
There’s also online equity crowdfunding where people gain a share in the business, having helped fund it. Kevin McCloud is a recent example having broken previous records for money raised. He took his idea to build well-designed, affordable and sustainable housing and attracted £1.9 million in pledges on Crowdcube.
This is all turning funding on its head. You can effectively start a business with an IPO rather than bootstrapping, growing, sourcing finance to grow further, then float/divest once at a reasonable critical mass. The pot of gold (i.e. equity sell off) can be at the start of the rainbow not the end. It’s a reversal of tradition and the high street banks are becoming less of the gatekeepers.
If you’ve got an idea keeping you awake at night, check out crowdfunder, indiegogo, sponsume, buzzbnk, abundancegeneration, seedrs, fundingcircle, crowdcube and see if there’s a chance of getting it off the drawing board.