Crowdcube Raises 6M from Numis

Crrowcube LogoUK platform Crowdcube today announced that it has raised 6M GBP of investment to further accelerate its growth. The investment is led by Numis, a UK stockbroker and corporate advisor. Tim Draper and London-based Draper Esprit have also joined this new funding round alongside existing backers Balderton Capital, one of Europe’s largest venture firms.

The investment will enable Crowdcube to accelerate growth, continue the expansion of its team, ramp up new product development including the creation of a new solution for companies going public, and invest further in its acclaimed marketing activities.

‘We’re on a mission to help more businesses raise the finance they need to grow, create jobs and deliver returns to investors. We’ve dominated the democratisation of seed-stage equity investment since we launched in 2011 and we’re determined to do the same for larger businesses. We want to put the Public back into IPO.’ commented Darren Westlake, CEO and co-founder of Crowdcube.

This round puts the Crowdcube at 51M GBP post investment.
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Who Owns Top UK Crowdfunding Platforms Crowdcube and Seedrs?

Thanks to Companies House filings of British Companies are available to the public fee-free now (previously there was a small fee to access documents). This is a huge plus for equity crowdfunding as interested investors can check past filings of the pitching companies (provided the company was not founded very recently).

This also allows anybody interested to check how many shares the founders, employees and investors of the top UK equity crowdfunding platforms Crowdcube and Seedrs hold. And in order to save you the time to search yourself, P2P-Banking.com provides the direct links to the documents below:

Crowdcube

Seedrs

Both companies had pitches in the past for themselves, offering part of their equity on their platforms to interested investors.

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Crowdcube Raises 1.2M from the Crowd and 3.8M from Balderton Capital

Today British crowdinvestment platform Crowdcube started pitching the crowd to raise 1.2 million GBP. This was on the same terms as the 3.8 million GBP it raises from Balderton Capital in this series B funding. The total raised is for 25.64% equity. This puts the valuation at about 19.5 million GBP. The pitch was funded  in a record 16 minutes by 142 investors. There was a minimum investment threshold of 1,000 GBP (and a maximum of 25K GBP) in this round.

Crowdcube launched in 2011 and has raised over 30 million GBP for more than 130 start-up, early stage and growth businesses. More than half of this finance has been secured in the first half of 2014. Crowdcube also succeeded to sign up international partners and now has a presence in seven countries: Brazil, Sweden, Dubai, Poland, Italy, Spain and New Zealand. I feel that Crowdcube has done tremendously well in terms of product development and building its market position.

Darren Westlake, CEO of Crowdcube commented: ‘We’re delighted to secure growth finance from such a renowned VC who will undoubtedly add tremendous value both strategically and operationally. We’ve built a pioneering and award-winning service over the last few years. This investment, alongside the crowd, puts us in an even stronger position to provide essential growth finance for businesses and inspire a new generation of investors.’

This round follows earlier rounds, where Crowdcube raised 320K GBP in Dec. 2011 (I invested a small amount during that round) and 1.5M GBP last year prompting Techcrunch to rightly state ‘Let no one accuse Crowdcube of not eating its own dog food‘. However I would expect a crowdinvestment platform to be a stellar role model in communication with its own investors and I feel there is lots of room for improvement there (especially when compared to some other equity crowdfunding pitches I invested in) as frequence and content of information provided has been sparse and I found the answers to my direct email queries to Crowdcube directors unsatisfying.

Seven Players Join Forces to Promote Alternative Business Funding

In the UK 7 innovative finance companies have joined forces and launched the Alternativebusinessfunding.co.uk website to inform SMEs what alternative funding methods they offer. Two p2p lending services Zopa and Funding Circle, two p2p equity (crowdinvesting) services Crowdcube and Seedrs as well as three other services Pension-Led Funding, Platform Black and MarketInvoice participate in this non-bank funders collaberation.
These platforms account for 85% of alternative finance for businesses market and have provided more than 580 million GBP to SMEs between them.

Screenshot

The information website works like this:
1. Enter the amount of funding you require.
2. After each question you will see the lights change dependant on which funder suits your criteria.
3. At the final question click on any green (or amber) traffic lights for your preferred funder details.
4. All that is left now is for you to approach your funder of choice about sourcing SME finance.

Crowdcube Celebrates First Birthday – Crowdcube Infographic

British P2P Equity marketplace startup Crowdcube celebrates its first anniversary (Happy Birthday from P2p-Banking, too :-)). Lately Crowdcube picked up speed substantially in attracting more and more startups pitching for funding. While investors are currently very selective in what to fund, the volume funded has shown nice growth too. The following infographic by Crowdcube illustrates that (see ‘Amount invested’).


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How to Become a Shareholder of Crowdcube

Yesterday I invested a small amount and will become a shareholder of Crowdcube Ltd., which runs the British p2p equity marketplace Crowdcube.com (see earlier articles about Crowdcube). Crowdcube is currently using it’s own platform to raise 300,000 GBP (approx. 470K US$) for a stake of 9% in the company.

If you decide quick, you can become a shareholder of Crowdcub too (minimum investment is 10 GBP). For UK residents investments of over 500 GBP mean they are eligible for a 30% income tax rebate under the EIS scheme. At the time of this writing the pitch is 54% funded and it looks like it will fully fund within the next days.

Crowdcube provides a slide presentation and a forecast. The forecast is a bit sketchy with some figures being debatable in my view but overall I think Crowdcube is a promising venture for the following reasons:

  1. The founders achieved quite a lot in the short time since launch
  2. Good marketing angle. New pitches might allow them to uphold high PR resonance (at least locally and industry sector specific). With luck and craftsmanship they might achieve equal marketing spin in p2p equity as Kickstarter has achieved in crowdfunding
  3. I expect p2p equity in UK to get a boost by rising tax reliefs (50% !) under new SEIS scheme (see yesterday’s post)
  4. Crowdcube, if growing fast, might reach a level where (for UK) it profits from network effect. However the pitch is missing competitor analysis and strategies to deal with them.
  5. Good revenue/cost ratio. With less (technical) complexity than say Zopa or Ratesetter (but much higher risk for investors in pitches)
  6. Should they succeed in creating a secondary market that is not awkward/clumsy in the future, then that will heighten the attractiveness for investors as it offers liquidity for the investments

I am fairly optimistic that the influx of pitches won’t be a problem. It is hard to gauge how the funding success percentage of these will be as that depends on the quality of pitches. The single biggest threat to Crowdcube’s business model in my view is the prossibility of one of the companies funded at the market place failing big time and leaving very unsatisfied investors.

I plan to post further reviews of the progress (naturally I won’t share any confidential data made available to shareholders).

Civilised Money Raises 100K Through P2P Equity

UK startup Civilised Money has raised 100,000 GBP from 121 individual investors using the p2p equity platform Crowdcube. The investors will own 10% of the funding after the legal process of the funding is completed. The funding was completed in just 9 days, showing the potential p2p equity has in the UK.

Civilised Money plans to offer crowdfunding first and p2p lending in a second step. Katherine Byles of Civilised Money told P2P-Banking.com earlier this week that this is actually the second funding round for the company: ‘We have a first round of crowdfunded investment from ‘The Pillars’ 20 key supporters.‘.

Asked whether the technology is self-developed or licensed, she told P2P-Banking.com: ‘The technology is licensed. We have a one-off revenue share based licence for one of the most powerful and flexible P2P platforms available.  Through the core technology platform we will be able to roll-out a number of products, enabling us to cut the cost of using these – once funds are on the platform moving them between the different products is a simple and fast process.

Asked about the USP as compared with Zopa, RateSetter or Fundingcircle Byles said:Civilisedmoney will offer all the people-to-people financial services products in one integrated service.  It has launched with crowdfunding. People-to-people loans are coming next. It is developing new products too. Civilisedmoney is becoming a one-stop-shop for all your people-to-people financial products that create a viable alternative to banks. …

The company has ambitious goals as a quote from information provided in the pitch shows: ‘While its service is not yet available in the U.S., CivilisedMoney’s plans are to expand from the U.K. to greater Europe, and then eventually to Africa and the U.S. (CivilisedMoney’s services offered will depend on region, since, for example, crowdfunding equity stakes for startups isn’t yet legal in the U.S.)‘.

First Business Offer Fully Funded at Crowdcube

On the peer-to-peer equity market Crowdcube (see earlier coverage) the first business succeeded in raising the desired funding in exchange for equity. Yesterday bodycare business Bubble & Balm hit its funding target of 75,000 GBP. The amount was funded by 82 investors which will in return receive 15% of the equity of the company.

I am one of those, albeit with a symbolic amount of 20 GBP invested, which means that in the future I will own a whooping 0,004% (=1/25000) of Bubble & Balm, once the transaction is legally finalized.

Investing so far was very easy – I contributed my 20 GBP (plus fees) via Paypal. There is the option to pay via bank transfer too. After uploading the money to the account I then selected the business to invest to.

For the moment it is fun to participate in this first public p2p equity process in the UK and I see it as an experiment with the ability to gain first hand experience how it proceeds.

I selected Bubble & Balm as an “investment target” for three reasons:

  1. It was clear that this pitch would be the first to fully fund
  2. It is an established business that already operates since 2009, not a startup with a mere idea
  3. The information provided in the pitch is sound (business plan, financials, background of founder)

The bodycare business will use the investment to expand its award-winning product range, increase marketing activity and to meet increasing demand from retailers such as Waitrose, Oxfam, Planet Organic and a growing number of independents.

Peer-to-Peer Equity: Crowdcube

With the introduction of p2p lending some lenders wrote that the concept enabled everyone to feel as banker.

Now, newly launched Crowdcube.com enables any UK resident to feel as venture capitalist for a financial commitment as low as 10 GBP. Investors can browse pitches which usually include business plans and financial projections and sometimes even video pitches.

In return for the investment, investors get shares of the company. For example entrepreneur Daniel Vinson wants to raise 50,000 GBP. He is offering 49% equity in return, meaning investors roughly get 1% shares in return for 1,000 GBP investment. So far 11 investors have pledged 1,200 GBP.

There are 6 entrepreneurs pitching for funding at the moment. Interested investors can answer questions and for some businesses a lively discussion has started.

Crowdcube, founded by Darren Westlake and Luke Lang, launched 2 weeks ago. Crowdcube’s business model is to offer a platform to match entrepreneurs with peer investors and business angels. Costs for entrepreneurs are a success fee of 5% of the funding amount plus legal fees of 1750 GBP for completion of each company investment.  For a limited period they are waiving the 250 GBP listing fee to register as an entrepreneur and add a pitch.

Investors are charged a processing fee by Crowdcube for each transaction equal to the sum of 0.20 GBP plus 4% of the value of the transaction. Continue reading