Crowdfunding Investor profile – Angie Skazka

My favourite thing about crowdfunding investor Angie Skazka is that this case proves again that anyone – even a student – can become a business angel and invest to become part of the next big thing. We asked Angie to participate in our popular crowdfunding investor profile session and convince you why you too should consider this modern type of investment!

Angie Skazka is a crowdfunding investor on FundedByMe

Angie, introduce yourself – what is your background, passions and ‘day job’?

I am 24, Russian-Swedish. I graduated from Ural Federal University as an engineer (5 years) of Industrial Automation and Control Systems. Then I spent 2 years at Real Time Soft, Yekaterinburg, as a SCADA designer and automation developer. At that time I created automated dispatcher systems for ridiculously huge and dangerous ore-processing plants. Particularly enjoying creating user interfaces, I then switched my focus entirely to it by studying on my own and working part-time as a UI-designer in Ocean bank, Moscow. I designed user interfaces for online payment agent Robokassa (Russian analog of Klarna), which are used nowdays by over 10k customers per day and over 22k merchants overall. I also did a year of PHD in Russia, but I quit because I hate research.

Now I am a master student of EIT ICT Labs, studying Interaction Design with first year at KTH and second year in Aalto University, Helsinki. My professional interests include user interface design, infographics, graphic design and entrepreneurship. I aim to build awesome interaction for specific usage contexts and enjoy creating cool data visualizations.

Currently I am a co-founder and usability troll at RunTroll, a real-time multiplayer game that makes it fun to run (I mean physically, with your legs). I believe that entrepreneurship is a way to bring more long-term value to society, and my social aim within RunTroll project is to get people away from computer and TV screens to exercise and be healthy. I spend my free time in Solna climbing center or out in mountains, traversing the snowy peaks and glaciers.

 

How did you first get familiar with crowdfunding and why does it appeal to you?

Daniel the CEO of FundedByMe gave a guest lecture at KTH in one of our courses. Crowdfunding appeals to me because I can invest small amounts of money and get equity in early stage companies before they became ridiculously expensive. Also openness, involvement, connection to startup frontier, networking.

 

Which project(s) on FundedByMe did you invest in? What made you want to get involved?

I invested in FundedByMe and Nerdy by Nerds. The first one has a great idea and promising return, the other one is cute. Unfortunately I missed fire alarms by Elinnovation.

 

What do you expect to get out of these investments on the long run?

I want to sustain myself with return on investments and run my own creative projects without a need to work for money. I want to learn how to invest, get experience, get a network so that I can possibly work or cooperate with people involved in startups.

 

What is the most important tip you’d give other investors considering crowdfunding?

A crazy one: don’t spend weeks of your time to do a proper evaluation. Instead go for quantity with small sums. As long as the revenue model is clear you are pretty much fine to go.

 

Are there any new investment rounds on FundedByMe that you have your eyes on at the moment?

Yes, I am looking mainly for physical stuff: Garpenbergs castle is interesting, Mutewatch already proved their idea with sales, and Rosey is quite close to me since I am a (former) automation engineer.

Crowdfunding Investor Q&A – Siam Choudhury

When we opened the FundedByMe equity crowdfunding round on our site, the first person to invest was Siam Choudhury. Not only is he our first FundedByMe crowdfunding investor, but he is also Mr Small/Medium Business at our favourite social networking platform, Facebook. We asked Siam to share his thoughts and he, most graciously, complied!

Siam-choudhury_crowdfunding_investor

Hello! I’m Siam. I love travelling, good food and tech. The latter pretty much covers my background and my day job as well. I spent years being heavily involved in online communities, particularly around gaming; where I also set up and ran video game websites for a few years. I moved on to work on a startup with a couple of college friends of mine, the now closed-down ParsLibris, a book-sharing community.

With that in the bag, I moved to Dublin 3 years ago to join Facebook, which I guess is my “day job”. At Facebook, I look after the Small & Medium Business segment in the Nordics. This includes acquisition, growth and education among other things.

 

How did you first get familiar with crowdfunding and why does it appeal to you?

I started noticing crowdfunding when projects popped up on the web around areas I’m interested in. There was a video game documentary series up on Kickstarter, a charity campaign on Indiegogo by a webcomic artist and the really cool story of Flippin’ Burgers on FundedByMe.

It’s a really cool concept; helping artists (of different kinds) succeed in bringing their projects to life.

I got even more interested when FundedByMe introduced investing in projects, which takes the step further and allows people to be even more involved in the projects they help fund.

 

Which project(s) on FundedByMe did you invest in? What made you want to get involved?

So far I have invested in FundedByMe itself, because I believe in the product and the people behind it. They’re really passionate and know that they are breaking new ground with what they are doing, and are able to move fast.

My second investment went to Virtuous Vodka. I don’t drink, but I appreciate craftsmanship, and the passion for that really comes through when you look at what Virtuous are doing. They are treating their product and process as a craft, which really appeals to me.

 

What do you expect to get out of these investments on the long run?

Primarily experience. Investments like these allow me to contribute to the businesses in different capacities and to take a peek at how two very different companies work and think. These are also two very solid businesses; so I believe in a long term financial ROI as well.

 

What is the most important tip you’d give other investors considering crowdfunding?

I think it’s important to look at each investment in two ways. What you can learn and get from the investment and equally important, what you can contribute with, aside from the monetary investment. This type of investment is really cool because you get to choose the scale of your investment, both financially and through knowledge. Think about what you have capacity for, and what knowledge and skills you have that would be helpful for the project.

Most importantly, look at projects where you can buy into the passion the entrepreneurs have for their product or service.

 

Are there any new investment rounds on FundedByMe that you have your eyes on at the moment?

There are a lot of great looking projects on the platform now. But if I had to narrow it down to my top 3 picks, I’m keeping an eye on Mutewatch, Beibamboo Oy and Atelier Food Serving AB.

Crowdfunding Investor Q&A – Meg Charles-Horn

There is no better way of getting the facts about crowdfunding than from a crowdfunding investor – someone who passionately believes and supports it. When I recently ran into Meg Charles-Horn, who invested in the recent FundedByMe Equity round, I asked her share her views with us. Meg was happy to comply!

Meg Charles-Horn is a crowdfunding investor on FundedByMe

Can you briefly introduce yourself, Meg? What is your background and what are you currently working on?

I moved to Stockholm from New Delhi, India about 18 months ago where I was doing strategy for a foundation focused on building schools in rural India for girls.  I am a US-trained telecom/corporate lawyer and have worked as a partner at a major US law firm, Head of Strategy of a Telecom start-up and have held leadership roles in a global telecom company as well as the GSM Association in London.  I am always looking for new challenges and opportunities to excel – both personally and professionally – and I am passionate about sharing my experiences and knowledge to help others achieve their goals.  With the transition to Stockholm, which is such a vibrant entrepreneurial community, I decided it was time to use my knowledge, experience, skills and a little money to help create new companies. Currently I am an investor in two US-based start-ups – one is Keoyo where I am co-founder. We make ‘@holla’, a social communications app that will launch next month.

FundedByMe is not only my first Swedish investment, but it is also a “passion investment”.  I fervently believe in FundedbyMe’s mission to democratize investment and create a financial path to help people to pursue their dreams.  As an investor, I believe that FundedByMe’s platform and business model will be successful because it is pioneering in an area that has huge potential for growth.

 

How did you first get familiar with crowdfunding and why does it appeal to you?

When I decided to focus on becoming an Angel Investor, about two years ago, I began researching to learn about the options available to find early stage companies in need of smart money.  This was coincidentally the time that Kickstarter started making noises in the US and then of course, the US Jobs Act came into focus.  As I mentioned earlier, I believe in the democratization impact of crowdfunding both for investors and the businesses or projects that can now find funding that would otherwise never get the opportunity to come to market.

 

Which project(s) on FundedByMe did you invest in? What made you want to get involved?

So far I have only invested in FundedByMe on FundedByMe, because it was easy for me to understand the technology platform, the market opportunity and business model.  I am currently considering at least two more investments in areas that I am not as familiar – retail fashion and design.

 

What do you expect to get out of your investments on the long run?

Like all investors I expect, or certainly hope, to get a positive return.  Obviously, investing in an early stage company is always risky.  Any goal for an equity investment other than a positive return is secondary because if the business cannot sustain itself, it will simply die.  That said, the secondary goals can be very important from societal value perspective and have significant impact in the decision to invest.  I believe this is why Kickstarter and traditional crowdfunding have so far been unusually successful.

 

What is the most important tip you’d give other investors considering crowdfunding?

For equity crowdfunding, even though the amounts can be relatively small, I would suggest people invest when they understand how the business will make money and develop sufficient knowledge about the sector so that they understand the risks that the company has to overcome to be successful. Then they should assess the people involved and decide whether they think those people can execute the plan they have laid out.

 

In other words, don’t just blindly follow the crowd.

Crowdfunding investor Q&A – Dan Kopparhed

We love sharing success stories with readers of our blog and, through them, tell the story of how crowdfunding can help entrepreneurs and investors work together to create the next big thing. Today we are thrilled to introduce one of the early FundedByMe crowdfunding investors, Dan Kopparhed in an entertaining Q&A session.

Dan Kopparhed FundedByMe investor

Please introduce yourself
My name is Dan Kopparhed, age 35, Swedish, background as a quite hard-core tech geek but with a broad range of interests that have been even more broadened by the trials of entrepreneurship. Been studying quite a lot and I started doing a PhD in ICT (perhaps I will finish one day). Started my first company in 2005 with the explicit goal to learn about running my own business (doing consulting). I have started three more small companies after that, two of which had/have employees. One of the companies I had to file for bankruptcy (painful but good learning experience). I haven’t “succeeded” with my businesses yet, but I keep trying, so I suppose at least I don’t give up easily at setbacks. I was working full time as a self-employed entrepreneur for about 2 years, but last year I decided to take a step back from the active operation of my “main” business, instead relying on my partners to run the operation at this phase. I still manage primarily the finances and accounting but that work is small enough so I can have a full time job.

How great that you can have a cooperation with your partners like that. What is it you moved on to at the moment?
Currently my day job is as an architect at Ericsson. However, my head is full of great ideas, and I continue working on some of them on the side whenever I have time. At some point I will probably return to being an entrepreneur full-time again. Since most of my time is spent in front of a computer it is lucky I discovered at least one more physical hobby in the form of Ju-Jutsu (Japanese martial art) which I enjoy a lot.

How did you get familiar with equity crowd funding, and why does it appeal to you?
I first heard about equity crowdfunding from FundedByMe and immediately thought it was a great idea that might work very well in Sweden if executed properly. In Sweden many people own stock in public companies, so we have a broad public acceptance for owning shares (i.e. not just for the rich) and with the ease enabled by Internet stock brokers, I think this trend has continued. However, there has been no service to enable a similar accessible solution for the public to invest (small amounts) in private companies like startups. It also facilitates discovering investment opportunities that one would probably not even know about otherwise. It is great that basically anyone can afford to take part, sharing both in risks and gains, and it is so much more personal than the stock market. Additionally, if the company takes advantage of the social aspect they can gain so much more than just money through their crowd-investors. When done “right” it feels like being part of a family – you get emotionally invested as well.

So which crowd equity investments have you made thus far?
I have “crowd-invested” in two companies so far. One is FundedByMe and the other is Virtuous (Vodka) Spirits.

Why did you invest in these companies?
I invested in FundedByMe because I believe in the idea of crowdfunding in general and equity crowdfunding in particular. I was one of the (small) backers from the early beginning, after meeting Daniel Daboczy at the first IDD event, so I had already a bit of emotional connection on top of believing in the business idea. Thus, I wanted to have at least a small share in this. I invested in Virtuous Vodka because I think they have found a very interesting niche in the market and I like the product concept and presentation a lot. I really think the team has the right ideas and approach to establish a great new product for both the Swedish market and for export. And considering that this is Sweden… lets just say alcoholic beverages are not a small market. After trying the actual product I was even more sure :).

What do you expect to get out of these kind of investments on the long run?
Basically, I expect to see my investments grow, although as an entrepreneur myself I know the risks involved. But I also hope to have a more personal relationship with the companies for no other reason than that I enjoy building new products and companies (even if I have a very small role). Hopefully I can help out somehow. Also, it is always nice to get to know new skilled, ambitious and inspirational people. From a pragmatic view, especially as an entrepreneur, I have come to realize you can never know too many people and you never know who is going to be important in your future.

What is the most important tip you would give potential crowd investors?
I think you should invest in what feels “right” for you, meaning the team and the product/service. Of course it helps if you have good insight into the particular target market but relying purely on logical reasoning and number crunching will probably mean you miss all the truly great “disruptive” ideas, since these by definition defy the common belief of what is “good” business. Numbers are quite useless for analyzing an early-stage (Startup) business since much can only be based on guesses (qualified or not). Things will change, as they must in a Startup business. Thus, intuition and experience is probably your best guide.

Investor Interview: Sebastian, a new FundedByMe investor

Meet Sebastian, one of the newest FundedByMe crowdfunding investors. Tell us about yourself!
I am an 31 year old jack of all trades, academically my background is in economy and management with studies on bachelor, master and MBA level at Umeå University, Sweden, Universidade Nova, Portugal and Harvard initiated INCAE in Costa Rica. Work-wise I have done just about everything from commercial long line fishing, correctional officers work, financial investment and a range of consultancy positions regarding economics and management. The entrepreneurial perspective has always been a big part of my life with several of my own ventures and companies throughout the years. Currently I am the CEO and funder of NaturalGoods.se, the company that launched the revolutionary product SoyMaster, a beautifully clever little machine that allows you to make soy-, wheat-, almond-milk and many other types drinks at home in just a matter of minutes.

 

How did you get familiar with equity crowdfunding, and why does it appeal to you?
As I have a strong interest in microfinance the logic behind crowd funding was something that very early seemed logic and scaleable to me and I have familiarized myself with the concept through various organisations take on it such as Kiva, Kickstarter and others. My eyes have been on FundedByMe since the very beginning since I love the concept and I really saw potential in the team behind the company. Being able to meet Daniel Daboczy for a chat in connection to a lecture in 2011 only spurred my interest further. Crowd funding appeals to me in many ways both through the recognition and confirmation that comes out of many people showing that they believe in you and your idea directly with their hard earned money which is so much stronger than just kind words, but also as as crowd funding often functions as a platform for the entrepreneur to reach both potential clients and future partners, advisors or suppliers in the process.

 

Have you ever done a crowd equity investment? And if so, in which company?
No, my first investment is in FundedByMe as the round closes shortly.

 

Why did you invest in FundedByMe?
Because I love the idea, have strong belief in the team behind and see a prosperous outcome in the long run with the investment, in traditional financial terms but also, and maybe more importantly, through being able to be a part of the creation of something great. Being involved in the buildup, if only by investing a small sum, of a great company is a reward in itself, a story to tell and to be proud of and in this case the company will enable others ideas to bloom as well, which is a huge bonus!