Synopsis: The real experts of equity crowdfunding reveal all! This article interviews 20 successful funded startups from around the world – and they don’t hold anything back. You will get a taste for what equity crowdfunding for startups is really like!
An Honest Account Of Equity Crowdfunding For Startups
Equity crowdfunding can really be transformational, and it’s not just over-optimistic buzz to say so. Many companies have gushed about the very real surge their business has had as a result of their campaign.
Several were of the opinion that the crowdfunding promotion exposure of equity crowdfunding for startups is even more valuable and useful than the money it raises.
Balancing that, every campaign emphasized the amount of work involved. Also, some startups felt disappointed that they needed to effectively bring their own investors to their crowdfunding platform, when they were expecting the platform to provide them with a fresh investor audience.
If you’re seriously considering equity crowdfunding, you need to know the kinds of emotions that could be in front of you. So here are some insightful thoughts from 20 startups and growing companies whose footsteps you could be following in.
Juha Suojanen (EkoRent)
“Our alternatives were banks, angels and venture capital. We decided on equity crowdfunding because since we are in the business of electric vehicles, we had a good hunch the public would be enthusiastic about our mission. As well as the money, we expected to get some free media time in TV, newspaper and radio, and tie our existing users closer to us. And that’s exactly what happened. We have been really pleased with how it turned out.”
Tom Hodgkinson (Idler Academy)
“Almost all of the money came from persistence and personal emailing from me. I did about six months of non-stop work on our various documents to get the raise ready. It really is an enormous amount of work, and it is very expensive. You need to pay accountants, designers and possibly legal people as well. It is also extremely stressful.”
Charlie Thuillier (Oppo Ice Cream)
“For us, equity crowdfunding wasn’t a way to reach a new crowd. It was a way to raise money from a crowd that we already had.”
Andre Moll (MyCouchbox)
“The overall impact on our business has been incredible. We got great press coverage, and a huge number of new people have heard of us as a result of crowdfunding. I just wish that we had raised more!”
Ardo Kaurit (Ampler Bikes)
“We needed the money, so of course equity crowdfunding has made a huge difference. It allowed us to finish our product development and keep our business growing.”
Mark Hughes (Tutora)
“The publicity of the offer for us was great. And effectively it was free publicity. There’s not that many companies going on these crowdfunding platforms, and they have a lot of people looking at them. We were exposed to a network of several hundred thousand people, and that was invaluable.”
Nathan Lawrence (Heyrex)
“When you end up with 50 or 100 small investors at between $2,000 and $5,000 each, you put in a lot of energy to attract those. And then you’ve the responsibility to manage them appropriately. Whereas if you had two large cornerstone investors at $250,000 each, you’ve got a lot less to manage going forward, and maybe you’ve got people more vested in the outcome. To me, the fundamental question before going ahead is whether you might be better off focusing your time on attracting a few sophisticated investors.”
Thomas Adner (Caliente)
“Before we did our campaign, we looked at another drinks company who were doing crowdfunding. All you see is their page with a few words and a little video, and the money just pouring in. What you don’t realize is all the work that has been done to get them to that point.”
Jamie Cairns (CropLogic)
“The majority of our raise came through existing customers and shareholders. The lesson I learned through the process is that you need to really own the marketing and push it hard.”
Eric van Velzen (Nebu)
“Once we reached 85%, it went really fast. A lot of people wait until they can see the offer is almost done before they participate. The last one or two days also went really fast, but that boost in the final days wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t gotten close to our target.”
Alicja Chlebna (Naturalbox)
“Equity crowdfunding for startups gives you great marketing in my opinion. And then there is the access to many great entrepreneurs and business people with experience, who give a new approach to your business.”
Tom Blomfeld (Monzo)
“We didn’t really build our crowd through crowdfunding. We already had built our crowd, so crowdfunding was simply an opportunity to deepen that relationship.”
Crispin Reeves (Haughton Honey)
“During the life of the campaign, we responded to over 500 requests for information. Many seasoned investors, and many novice investors only interested in putting in £10 or £20 here or there.”
Skai Dalziel (Gusto)
“The biggest challenge for equity crowdfunding for startups is getting traction out of the gate. We didn’t want to start with 0% on the slider bar, so we got to 15% when our campaign went live. But once we hit our minimum, we quickly doubled the amount committed in the final week.”
Jarno Alastalo (Heimo)
“Equity crowdfunding is like running fifteen marathons.”
Alex Zivoder (goHenry)
“The entire process, from deciding to go down the crowdfunding route to having the cash in our bank account took five months. Three of those months were very full-on.”
Jasper Versteege (Winner Takes All)
“Doing a full-fledged campaign requires your full focus. You just can’t do it on the side when you’ve got too many other big things going on in your business. People won’t just come to you and find you unless you prepare it well.”
Tom Mayo (SOS)
“Time-wise, it took one of our company directors about one month, fulltime. Public relations and legal costs added up to around $15,000.”
Sandra Rey (Glowee)
“We spent two years of work building our community, and to get the media explaining how our technology works and why we do what we do. I do a lot of events and conferences and meet a lot of people. That’s why we were successful.”
Laurence Cook (Pavegen)
“The way we looked at it, raising the money privately might have been cheaper and faster, but equity crowdfunding for startups just had so many other upsides – in better investment terms, and better publicity, that for us it just made total sense.”
A Summary Of Equity Crowdfunding For Startups
Among such a diverse group of startups and growing companies from all over the world, such a varied range of experiences shouldn’t be a surprise.
Even so, common themes have clearly emerged. The technological and legal changes underpinning equity crowdfunding may have enabled a new way of raising capital, but the fundamental rules of investing have not changed. You still need to have a worthy business if you want to get funded. And attracting investors still takes work. Launching with momentum is absolutely fundamental to your chances.
And to use the real power of the crowd, you need to hold up your end of the bargain by engaging and communicating with your new investors long after your offer has ended. That’s what equity crowdfunding for startups is really like.