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 (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 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 ‘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 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