Collaboration between business angels and crowdfunding platforms

Collaboration between business angels and crowdfunding platforms

3 opportunities for collaboration between business angels and crowdfunding platforms
Crowdfunding and investments by business angels are often seen as mutually exclusive. At Connect we see things differently. We believe there are exciting opportunities for collaboration that brings benefits to both type of investors – and at the end of the day makes it easier for early stage companies to access capital necessary for growth.

Less risk, more money
The opportunities come from the complimentary nature of the solid investment knowledge of experienced business angels and the market validation mechanism that the online crowd provides. Connect has identified three areas that we want to explore together with our business angel network and FundedByMe.

1) Market validation
Sometimes otherwise interesting early stage deals may have question marks related to the actual interest from the market. A campaign on a crowdfunding platform such as FundedByMe can be used to validate market interest for the service or product and provide a business angel or business angel network with valuable data to help making a better investment decision.

2) Syndication
By combining their investments with online investors an experienced business angel could take the lead for a larger round with a smaller amount. This opens possibilities to engage in more deals and build a more diversified portfolio. Crowdfunded investments could also be used to fill rounds where a sole investor might not be able to meet the funding requirements by the company.

3) Improved trust
Knowing that an experienced lead investor is participating in the deal can make less knowledgeable investors feel at ease. The lead investor provides his or her experience from due diligence and company valuation processes and builds trust for the deal and reduces risk. It also creates a natural learning opportunity for new investors to become better investors over time.

“Collaboration between crowdfunding platforms and business angels is a natural development that benefits entrepreneurs as well as investors”

Connect and FundedByMe explore new models
Connect has the largest network of connected business angels in Sweden and in the Stockholm area more than 140 investors are connected to the network. Through the recently signed collaboration agreement with FundedByMe these investors will be offered new ways to interact with the crowdfunding platform and the online investors at FundedByMe.

Connect’s business development program for early stage companies Språngbrädan, is a proven process to help companies become investor-ready. Through the collaboration with FundedByMe we are creating new ways for companies on FundedByMe’s platform to improve their chances to reach their funding goals.

Companies that have participated in Språngbrädan will also be given special opportunities to participate and be highlighted on the platform.

This was a guest blog post brought to you by Connect – a proud partner of FundedByMe

Guest blog by Synch – a legal perspective

Guest blog by Synch – a legal perspective

Lately, equity crowdfunding has emerged as a real and important alternative for growth companies to ensure access to the capital necessary to realize the business idea. This is of course an attractive option as the entrepreneur, in addition to funding, often gets a whole bunch of ambassadors, in the form of shareholders, who will spread the word in their networks.

It is, however, important that the entrepreneur takes a moment to evaluate how a crowdfunding can be structured to be as successful as possible to the entrepreneur, incumbent shareholders and the new investors. Such questions include:

Ownership structure: It may be tempting to keep the cap table as clean as possible by having the crowd investors exercising their ownership through shares in a SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle), e.g. a company with shares in the entrepreneur’s company as its only asset. This can facilitate the management of the company, i.a. by having a shareholders’ agreement with the SPV rather than each crowd investor. It shall thus be considered that the SPV as such must be administered and managed, and that the procedure for the investors’ to realize the proceeds from their investment is more complicated than when the shares are held directly in the entrepreneur’s company.

Influence: All shareholders have fundamental rights and influence in a Swedish limited liability company, but the entrepreneur often wants to maintain control over critical decisions for the business. A common solution is to allot series B-shares, with less voting power, to the crowd investors. The entrepreneur should also consider whether the crowd investors should be entitled to representation in the board of directors, to safeguard their interests in relation to the majority owners.

IR: Likely even more important than formal influence, is the fact that an informed shareholder can be expected to be a happy shareholder. The company should take into account that shareholder relations will take management time and ensure that it has the resources for this.

Exit strategy: A successful company will eventually be subject to some sort of exit. When structuring a crowdfunding campaign, the company should take into account the consequences in different exit scenarios.

At Synch, we assist companies in these and other legal and strategic questions in connection with a crowdfunding campaign. We would gladly meet up to tell you more. For further information, please contact Oskar Belani, oskar.belani@synchlaw.se or +46 (0)76 176 19 15.

Grant Thornton and crowdfunding platform FundedByMe enter partnership

Grant Thornton and crowdfunding platform FundedByMe enter partnership

Crowdfunding – when companies turn to a crowd of investors to fund projects or ideas – is growing rapidly. Now, auditing and consulting firm Grant Thornton in Sweden partners with the crowdfunding platform, FundedByMe, with more than 50,000 investors in over 160 countries. The success stories include – among many others – Berries by Astrid, Virtuos Vodka and Isbjörn of Sweden.

The purpose of the partnership for Grant Thornton and FundedByMe is to develop entrepreneurship and support companies in their startup phases. For Grant Thornton this primarily means offering valuation services to entrepreneurs, hence facilitating for entrepreneurs and investors to connect and close deals at the right level.

– We believe that FundedByMe’s digital service is completely in tune with the times and that crowdfunding will continue to grow fast, both in Sweden and internationally and especially among young entrepreneurs. We are happy that through this partnership, we are able to support Swedish entrepreneurs in need of funding and thereby contribute to growth, says Carl-Johan Regell, authorized accountant and partner at Grant Thornton Sweden.

We realized several years ago that we wanted to partner with big, established players in the market, in order to develop crowdfunding in the sharing economy. We feel that Grant Thornton, just like FundedByMe, operates in the spirit of companies with increasing growth, and with the right focus for the entrepreneurs and companies who turn to us. We are very happy to announce this partnership and we see Grant Thornton Sweden as a strong partner for the exciting journey that lies ahead, says Daniel Daboczy, founder and CEO of FundedByMe.

The partnership begins with advisors from Grant Thornton participating in different activities, which FundedByMe arranges for investors and entrepreneurs this fall. After that, the companies will draw advantage of their respective networks to help entrepreneurs grow.

Grant Thornton already supports well-known entrepreneurial sponsorships and networks, such as DiGasell, Founders Alliance, YEoS and SUP46.

For more information, contact:

Lisbeth Larsson, Head of Communications, Grant Thornton

T: 0708-21 71 56, 08-563 071 56

E: lisbeth.larsson@se.gt.com

Twitter: @GT:_LisLar

www.grantthornton.se/press

Twitter:@GrantThorntonSE

Lena Flykt Rosén, Head of Partnerships, FundedByMe

T: +46702-86 66 12

Email: lena@fundedbyme.com

www.fundedbyme.com

About Grant Thornton Sweden

Grant Thornton Sweden is one of the fastest growing audit and consulting firms in Sweden. With more than1100 employees and 23 offices, the company is an independently owned and managed member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd. The member firms provide audit, tax and advisory advices.

Grant Thornton” refers to the brand under which the Grant Thornton member firms provide assurance, tax and advisory services to their clients and/or refers to one or more member firms, as the context requires. Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL) and the member firms are not a worldwide partnership. GTIL and each member firm is a separate legal entity. Services are delivered by the member firms. GTIL does not provide services to clients. GTIL and its member firms are not agents of, and do not obligate, one another and are not liable for one another’s acts or omissions

About FundedByMe
FundedByMe is a leading international player in crowdfunding through equity, loan or reward. The company has successfully funded hundreds of companies from 25 countries. The members represent a rapidly growing network of more than 57,000 investors from over 160 countries. FundedByMe with headquarters in Sweden has a presence in countries around Europe and in Singapore.

Niclas Ahlström joins FundedByMe as Country Manager for Finland – Helping the Company to Maintain its Lead on the Nordic Crowdfunding Market

Niclas Ahlström joins FundedByMe as Country Manager for Finland – Helping the Company to Maintain its Lead on the Nordic Crowdfunding Market

FundedByMe is without a doubt a global company, having over 56,000 members from 166 countries. After Sweden, Finland is the biggest and most important market for the company and the team believes in its potential to grow even further. Thus far Finnish entrepreneurs are leaders in receiving cross-border investments.To capture the growth opportunities even further, FundedByMe is now proud to welcome Niclas Ahlström as the new Country Manager in Finland! ”We are very excited about having Niclas on board” says Daniel Daboczy, CEO at FundedByMe.

Daniel Daboczy adds “Finland is a very interesting market where FundedByMe has been very successful earlier. We have successfully closed many campaigns that became international successes plus a few that picked up some VC funding after having being on FundedByMe.! With Niclas in the team, joining our big network and working with Kristina Pääkönen (the previous Country Manager for Finland) we are convinced that we can grab even bigger market shares and prove why FundedByMe is the leader in crowdfunding on the Nordic Market.”

“What makes me suitable for the position is my understanding of the operations but also challenges from both perspectives – I have been an entrepreneur, taking on everything from restaurants to real estate, but also worked as an investor getting deep insight into projects within different fields. I think that the FundedByMe team is fantastic, which I feel very excited about becoming a part of” Niclas Ahlstöm says. Academically, he has a masters degree in International Management from Hanken School of Economics and has lived in London, New York and Milan, giving him a broad international experience.

Ahlström says that he always has had an interest in Crowdfunding and that he is fascinated about the way it changes the financial market and makes it easier for communities to get involved and support ideas they believe in. It minimizes the time that investors have to spend on due diligence – instead they can focus on the product or service itself and entrepreneurs no longer need to spend as much time on pitching. In addition, he strongly believes in crowdfunding bringing in expertise and experience into startups. ”Receiving money is one thing, but receiving smart money is even more important – investors are involved and can help out.”

When asking about what goals he has for FundedByMe, Ahlström says that he wants to spread the word about the company, letting more people know about their possibilities to get involved by investing in startups and starting their own ventures. ”What gives FundedByMe an edge on the market is the global approach, since the investor base is international.” He says that the Finnish economy needs strong mid level companies that can generate growth and new jobs. “It will become a win-win situation for all involved.”

The Crowdfunding market is becoming more regulated and Ahlström says that it is hard to make projections about the future. However, he is certainly positive about its growth. “If we are able to create a gigantic investor pool all around the world, where people can pool into projects everywhere – the market potential is huge. People are no longer tied to their physical position”. Ahlström says that his biggest challenge is probably making the investor pool grow.

Niclas Ahlström also adds what personal qualities he will bring to FundedByMe. ”I’m a team player who loves meeting new people. I come with an open mindset and I’m here to learn more. Also, I’m a good networker and I hope to bring in more people to the startup scene, taking crowdfunding and FundedByMe to even higher heights in Finland.” He finishes with a laugh after saying ”I’m a nice person, I’m easy to work with”.

 

Career on Wheels – AddSeat

Career on Wheels – AddSeat

“AddMovement has built an innovative and strong business helping people with disabilities to live a more mobile life. Now we are aiming for an international expansion”

– Marit Sundin, CEO AddMovement

The number of people in the EU using wheelchairs on a daily basis sums up to 7.6 million. However, technological improvements within the industry are needed. Marit Sundin, CEO of AddMovement, has created AddSeat – improving the life quality for people sitting in wheelchairs. FundedByMe is honored to participate in Marit’s success story – now being live as a loan campaign on FundedByMe. Check it out here!

Marit, how long have you been working with AddMovement and what have you done earlier? 

I have developed AddMovement since 2011. Before that, I have been working in the industry with a number of innovative projects. Since I have been using a traditional wheelchair since the age of three, I have daily been reinventing current solutions in order for me to become more mobile. Looking for solutions allowing me to be more efficient in all situations, everything from sports to carrying my children, have made me an expert. In other words, I have really explored the market and now I have successfully filled a market gap.

What are your plans for the company after the campaign closing? 

My plan is to take the company to the next level by successfully accomplish our development plans – to continue being a leading product on the market, both in Sweden and on the international arena, and still maintain an efficient balance sheet.

One thing I have learnt from working with AddMovement is that business innovation combined with passion for what you do is the foundation for having a stable development. The funding will help us to reach an executive audience at the events, reaching out to people who would benefit from using the AddSeat.

Recently, we have been overwhelmed with international requests for our product and we are still in the process of identifying new markets. Our international customers have shared valuable thoughts regarding special adjustments that would improve our product. For that reason, we also want to be able to use the funding towards implementing these changes. As a result, we would be able to offer more extensive product flexibility and mobility to our customers.

What are the biggest challenges with AddMovement right now? 

The biggest challenge is to convince people to make the investment of buying the AddSeat. There is no doubt about customers wanting the product, the problem lies within taking the financial step to invest in it.

There is a huge difference between Sweden and other countries. Sweden has a very safe social system where people with disabilities are given equipment for daily usage. Unfortunately, my product still falls under the category for leisure, meaning that it is not yet subsidized.

However, in other countries people are more willing to invest in products like ours, this due to the fact that they are not used to subsidized products within this area. We have taken many steps to convince authorities to change the categorization of our product. We strongly believe that the product has what is required for this change to be made. When reaching that goal, the Swedish market will expand enormously.

Have you received any external funding so far from other sources?

Yes, “Almi”, which is a Swedish Agency helping businesses in their creation process, has provided us with start capital.

Your loan campaign just went live – what is the plan for the next 45 days? 

We have many meetings planned with potential lenders and journalists. We are in contact with Dagens Industri and Dagens Nyheter to proudly tell people what we have accomplished. We want to make sure that people, today using wheelchairs, will be informed about how AddMovement can improve their daily life.

addmovement_jonaskullman_4572

What are your expectations on this process? 

Primarily, I want to spread the word about AddMovement and the knowledge about AddSeat internationally – both to individual buyers, but also broaden the knowledge to big companies. In addition, I am very excited about receiving loans since it will enable me and AddMovement to do more and reach the goals I am striving for. Crowdfunding is more than funding, it brings you ambassadors and spreads the word about the business. The campaign has been live on FundedByMe for three days now, and many people have already now shown their interest. Crowdfunding can help me reach my goal!

You have won many awards – tell us some more! Did any of them make you especially proud?  

In 2014, I became the Swedish Female Innovator of the year, which was a great milestone for me, since I have put lot of effort into making my ideas into a company. I got a lot of publicity and some commitments followed, which of course has been very fun. Also, now in September ”Tekniska Museet” in Stockholm will have an exhibition for children to be inspired to create and innovate. AddMovement and the AddSeat will be presented at the exhibition which I am both proud and excited about. It shows that any has the possibility to change our society a little bit and it encourages people to take the next step into making it real.

Sushirullen already conquered Stockholm – what’s next?

Sushirullen already conquered Stockholm – what’s next?

Johan and Margareta Falk are the two driven entrepreneurs behind the first and only fast food sushi in northern Europe – Sushirullen. 

Everything began with Johan traveling in Australia where he discovered this different but delicious sushi roll which he loved so much that he actually began to eat it every day! When Johan later came back to Stockholm, he met Margareta who also happened to love sushi and they both shared dreams of one day opening their own business. Together they decided to introduce the new sushi roll concept to Stockholm and show the swedes what they’ve been missing out on.

On FundedByMe, they decided to go with loan crowdfunding, but why? – They wanted to expand the franchise but still keep the company strong and intact – as well as they could grow the company together with customers and fans. That turned out to be a superb choice and Sushirullen successfully closed their campaign on May 28, 2015, with 29 lenders and raising over 10,000 EUR!

Sushirullen has now taken Stockholm by storm and operates successfully on three different locations – not only keeping their customers stomachs satisfied but also their wallet, since one sushi roll only costs between 25 and 30 SEK. The next step for Sushirullen is to be everywhere – they want to keep expanding to new cities, become a heavy-weight in the market and take over Swedish heathy fast food industry.

In the future, they are also considering a new equity round on FundedByMe, so keep an eye open on Sushirullen and their future plans on taking their growth to a complete new level!

Watch their testimonial here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6pgF9XC–A

More info about Sushirullen: www.sushirullen.se

How NOA Crushed the Record in European Crowdfunding

How NOA Crushed the Record in European Crowdfunding

One thing is for sure and that is that NOA Relaxation – a company specialized in beverages who reduces stress and increases focus –  is not like every other company around.

Within just 3 minutes, NOA raised its first 1 million SEK (ca. 106 000 EUR)  and managed to successfully close the campaign on FundedByMe after only 4 days, ending up with more than 9 million SEK! But how did they do it?

It all started in October 2013 with founder Noa Fridmark coming up with an idea and seeing a gap in the market. By creating a natural beverage, inspired by Swedish nature, he wanted to bring focus and harmony into our otherwise so stressful and hectic city lives. Before the campaign went live on FundedByMe, NOA spoke with tons of investors, with the purpose to gain new followers and create interest, so that the campaign could go live under the best circumstances possible. Part of NOA’s early success story was winning “Best Premium Beverage” at the WBIA (World Beverage Innovation Awards) in 2014 – widely considered as the most prestigious beverage awards show in the world. That paved the way for eventually becoming one of the most spectacular campaigns so far on FundedByMe!

Noapic2
Noa Fridmark after winning at WBIA

They also made sure to represent the company at relevant events and created crucial PR by gaining positive attention in different media, both before and during the actual launch of the campaign. By establishing early awareness of NOA’s brand and telling people when and how the campaign was going live, all entrepreneurs and investors got the right information at the right time and everything they needed in order to support the campaign.

And you have to admit that the outcome became pretty good (to say the least) – the company’s initial goal was raising 5.2 million SEK in 45 days. It turned out they didn’t need more than 4 days to close it, raising more funds in 12 hours than any Nordic equity campaign ever have done before. On the third day, reaching 9.3 million SEK and with almost up to 200 investors, NOA successfully closed their exceptional funding round!

So, what is next for NOA? Once a promising start-up, the goal is now to become a multinational company in a class of it’s own. “Right now we have the worlds attention and it has only been 15 months since the first thoughts materialised, since then we have definitely broken a few speed records and have constantly surpassed our goals.” Noa Fridmark said.

Interested in running your own campaign on FundedByMe? Or need tips on how to prepare your company for the ride to come? Watch this 2-minute video from Noa himself on how to make your company into a success story.

Should Crowdfunding be Regulated in Sweden?

Should Crowdfunding be Regulated in Sweden?

Crowdfunding seems to be on everyone’s lips. Surprised? During 2014, the global crowdfunding market impressively injected 16 billion USD into different projects – making it hard for governments to turn a blind eye on the phenomena. FundedByMe grew more than 640% in Q1 and Q2 2015 vs. Q1 and Q2 2014 and the client base has increased to more than 55,000 active members.

For 2015, the global crowdfunding market is projected to double and FundedByMe especially sees a big growth in Asia. Don’t believe the myth that there’s tons of funding out there, especially to those who would like to become business angels with small sums (although the average investment on FundedByMe is €5,800 thus not so small amounts are invested).

The Swedish market is maturing and the governmental ruled Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority has started to implement information about crowdfunding as a natural part of their reports (page 15). Also, they have now scheduled a meeting to analyse the benefits and risks of crowdfunding on the Swedish market, read about it in SvD here . The Minister of Financial Markets, Per Bolund (MP), expressed his interest and belief in the market by saying that regulations need to be implemented, helping the market to grow even further. In addition, he recognises the need and therefore the huge demand for these types of financial services, enabling funding in a way that the traditional funding market can’t today. Also, Robin Teigland, researcher in crowdfunding at Stockholm School of Economics, claims that the distrust towards the traditional bank sector is growing – acknowledging the benefits of Crowdfunding to an even larger extent.

Today, the regulations for Equity and Loan based crowdfunding are severe due to distribution regulations and the Limited Companies Act (Aktiebolagslagen) and thus Sweden is very monitored. FundedByMe has been complying to the Companies Act since it’s inception and us also already registered by Finansinspektionen for it’s crowd-lending branch. However, FundedByMe couldn’t be happier about the news, since it proves the seriosity of the market which the company has strived for since the start in 2011. Bringing the topic to a political level recognises FundedByMe and other players on the market as well as it helps people to use the service more effectively. Even though nothing is legislated yet, it’s being talked about which FundedByMe thinks is a step towards a market expansion and development!

What do you think? Should crowdfunding in Sweden be regulated and should equity crowdfunding and crowd lending, already regulated by the Companies Act (Aktiebolagslagen) be regulated?

3 key trends for Asia that will change crowdfunding in 2015

3 key trends for Asia that will change crowdfunding in 2015

Many people wonder, what will happen in the future. Well, we at FundedByMe don’t have a crystal ball, but we can forecast how they year 2015 will be for crowdfunding in Asia. So here it is.

Right now you may observe 3 main phenomenons in the APAC region that let you to estimate about the future of crowdfunding:

  •      The social / mobile / chat obsessed citizens
  •      Economics of E-commerce and E-finance
  •      Innovation in reducing the unbanked rate

Some numbers proving this you will find below. But what do they actually mean for the industry? Let’s take it step by step. More and more people who spend their lives on mobile chat applications will result in changing global pattern behaviours.  Not only will we be able to do anything using our mobile devices, but we will also expect shorter offers, long creditable relationships and faster payments that we can handle with any smartphone. And you know very well there is always supply where the demand is.

Strong growth of e-commerce is usually the first step of strong growth in P2P finance. If you want to talk about e-commerce market in Asia, the relevant word would be “explosion”. And so it is with crowdfunding you should probably use “booming” as well. In China alone we can see a market size of estimated 40 billion USD, while a couple of years ago the industry didn’t exist at all. The Asian states are being more aware of the role of the industry and start to implement regulations for it – Malaysia was the first country doing this (and btw. FundedByMe with its partner are one of the first companies receiving the license for equity based crowdfunding).

Finally, crowdfunding significantly helps to decrease the rate of people who are not banked at all or are underbanked. Why? Because it can be used by people who have no credit history! Just check what happened in Kenya thank to M-PESA, a Mobile Phone Payment System. Right now the number of M-PESA users is higher than bank account holders.

Want to learn more details? Watch the performance by Adrian Koh,in the APAC region, and check a presentation by him.

Speech

 

Crowdfunding Berries by Astrid – how it began

Crowdfunding Berries by Astrid – how it began

Crowdfunding Berries by Astrid became an extraordinary campaign. Run by a doctor of medical research, offering an unique business concept of selling smoothies, having rocket-science vending machines and reaching its crowdfunding goal within first couple of days of going live.

Crowdfunding Berries by Astrid was the recent biggest milestone in developing the company. One day Astrid Friborg, the CEO & founder of Berries by Astrid wanted to present her unique vendor machine prototype and sample her smoothies based on a carefully developed recipe. Shortly we started to talk about funding her project. Couple days later Astrid launched her crowdfunding campaign on FundedByMe, offering nearly 11% of the company. Few days later she raised all money needed, but the campaign is still open for investors.

It’s so much fun! 90% of those people who  I have never heard about. Some of them declared 50k or even 100k SEK to invest in my company. There are investors outside of Sweden as well. I’m very curious to know how they heard about us and to meet them” – says Astrid  Friborg, CEO & founder of Berries by Astrid

Everything started in 2007. Astrid was doing her Phd in colon cancer on the Lund University, but wanted to get more knowledge in economy and marketing. Attending a full semester programme was impossible, but she found an evening course.

“One of the speakers encouraged us to apply for funding in her VC company and presented a case of a juice bar which was very successful. I thought that prices of renting a shop in a shopping mall are high, you need additionally to hire a staff and there are some wastes in raw materials, as fruits. What about making it simpler? Like a machine that would produce the same quality smoothie but without all this unnecessary things that make it more costly? This idea appeared in my head like a flesh from the clear sky” – explains Astrid.  

However, Astrid didn’t want to develop the idea immediately, but finish her PhD degree first. She graduated in 2009 and got the offer from Stanford University from a professor, and was assisted by a prestigious grant from the Swedish Scientific Council for next 2 years of researches.

“To turn down the offer was a really hard decision. But I have never regretted it.”

The 1st August 2009 she started to work on her machine full time. At the beginning it was pretty tough.

She attended many courses for entrepreneurs to learn as much as possible, but she didn’t have any mentor. Finally in Malmo Astrid met an engineer specialized in building automates for food industry who helped her get on the right track. But the machine has evolved on every step.

When I invited it there was no even word ‘Internet of things’ I just wanted to have some features like possibility for customers to pay with a mobile phone or for me to control the machine from distance.”

Right now all of them are in the prototype, however still some improvements are needed. Money raised in current crowdfunding campaign will be used to implement them and to adjust for mass production.