There is nothing better than learning from those who have done it before.
I have recently interviewed seventeen companies who have been through equity crowdfunding, and heard their insights about what they thought of the experience, and what worked best for them. They are from all around the world; Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Netherlands and Estonia. These interviews were conducted for an upcoming book, which you can read more about here, and download a sample chapter.
“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.“ – Juha Suojanen, EkoRent, raised €171,000 on Invesdor (Finland-headquartered platform).
“Almost all of the money came from persistence and personal emailing from me. I did about six months 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.”– Tom Hodgkinson, Idler Academy, raised £149,000 on Crowdcube (UK-headquartered platform).
“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.” – Charlie Thuillier, Oppo Ice Cream, raised £650,000 on Seedrs (UK-headquartered platform).
“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!” – Andre Moll, Mycouchbox, raised €300,000 on Companisto (Germany-headquartered platform).
“Well, 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.” – Ardo Kaurit, Ampler Bikes, raised €91,500 on Fundwise (Estonia-headquartered platform).
“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.” – Mark Hughes, Tutora, raised £150,000 on Crowdcube (UK-headquartered platform).
“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.”– Nathan Lawrence, Heyrex, raised NZ$816,000 on Snowball Effect (New Zealand-headquartered platform).
“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 realise is all the work that has been done to get them to that point.“ – Thomas Adner, Caliente, raised €524,000 on FundedByMe (Sweden-headquartered platform).
“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.” – Jamie Cairns, Croplogic, raised NZ$512,000 on Equitise (Australia-headquartered platform).
“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.” – Eric van Velzen, Nebu, raised €175,000 on Symbid (Netherlands-headquartered platform).
“Crowdfunding 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.” – Alicja Chlebna, Naturalbox, raised €212,160 on FundedByMe (Sweden-headquartered platform).
“We didn’t build our crowd through crowdfunding. We already had built our crowd, and then all we needed to do was bring it to the platform so they could invest.” – Tom Blomfield, Monzo (formerly Mondo) raised £1 million on Crowdcube (UK-headquartered platform).
“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.” – Crispin Reeves, Haughton Honey, raised £111,000 on Crowdcube (UK-headquartered platform).
“The biggest challenge was 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 pledged in the final week.” – Skai Dalziel, Guusto, raised CA$50,000 on FrontFundr (Canada-headquartered platform).
“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.” – Alex Zivoder, goHenry, raised £3.99 million on Crowdcube (UK-headquartered platform).
“The way we looked at it, raising the money privately might have been cheaper and faster, but crowdfunding just had so many other upsides – in better investment terms, and better publicity, that for us it just made total sense.” – Laurence Cook, Pavegen, raised £1.90 million on Crowdcube (UK-headquartered platform).
There are some great tips here, and it also shows that companies using equity crowdfunding in different parts of the world face similar issues and enjoy similar benefits. Do you have any tips or lessons learned about equity crowdfunding you want to share with us all?
Thanks for this Nathan, kind of reassuring that equity crowdfunders around the world all seem to face the same issues (eg it’s hard work to do the pre-selling and create early investment momentum, and the preparation of support material to have it all available when asked for it) and enjoy similar benefits (crowdfunding done well is a great marketing exercise for a company, and customers can become investors and climb the brand loyalty ladder to be valuable advocates).