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.
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.