Best equity crowdfunding platforms in New Zealand

Equity crowdfunding allows companies to raise capital from their customers, community, and external investors. Getting outside investment can help a company grow faster and expand into new markets. More and more companies are experimenting with equity crowdfunding as a way to raise capital to grow their operations.

The equity crowdfunding industry in New Zealand has been operating since 2014 when the process was legalised and has matured considerably in that time.  The major platforms in New Zealand have started to find their feet and to differentiate themselves from one another.

Equitise

The Australian equity crowdfunding legislation has been slow to come into force, so Australian platform Equitise has been trying out their model in New Zealand. They have built a reputation for focusing on early-stage tech companies and high-risk food and beverage companies. Examples include 1Above rehydration drink and Skins performance sportswear. They allow companies to raise privately and publicly from both big and small investors.

Equitise appears to have completed around $11 million in offers in New Zealand. They charge an upfront fee and 7.5% of the funds raised. You can see their latest stats and fees on their website: Equitise

PledgeMe

PledgeMe allows companies to offer rewards, debt or equity to the crowd. The platform tends to attract social enterprises and early-stage companies with a strong fan-base. The platform is simple to use and companies go through a crowdfunding training program which means that the campaigns are generally well put together. The campaign videos from their successful campaigns are well worth a watch. Successful campaigns include Parrotdog, Yeastie Boys, and Eat My Lunch (a debt campaign).

PledgeMe appears to have completed at least $12 million in offers in New Zealand. They charge 6.5% for equity campaigns plus another 2.5% on any pledges that use a credit card. You can see their latest stats and fees on their website: PledgeMe

Snowball Effect

Snowball Effect was the first platform to launch in NZ. Snowball Effect is focussed on larger raises for more established companies. They generally work with medium-sized growth companies in the tech and consumer space. Snowball Effect has also been conducting private offers targeting their own database of high-net-worth and sophisticated investors. They have recently added a share registry service and an independent director matching service. Successful offers include Zeffer cider, SOS beverages, and Invivo wines.

Snowball Effect has completed around $40 million in offers in New Zealand. They charge an upfront fee and 7.5% of capital raised. You can see their latest stats and fees on their website: Snowball Effect

Other platforms

Other platforms include AlphaCrowd, AngelEquity and Crowd88. Crowd88 is another Australian platform that is expanding into New Zealand and AngelEquity are the online part of Tauranga-based Enterprise Angels so it is only open to wholesale investors.


Choosing the best equity crowdfunding platform for you

As an entrepreneur, it’s worth doing your homework before choosing a platform to work with. When considering an equity crowdfunding platform to raise capital on, there are several things to look out for:

  1. How well does the platform know their investors?

If your offer will just be spammed out through a bulk newsletter, it won’t get as much traction as a platform that will do the hard yards (behind the scenes) to help prepare and promote your capital raise. To do that, they need to have a pretty sharp knowledge of their investor base. Ask about their internal CRM, investor relationships, and how proactive the platform will be in helping promote your offer to their own investor base.

  1. What do the big fish think?

Large investors make a big difference to a successful capital raising. Even if you offer shares to the general public, you’ll likely still need some large investors such as angels, venture capital investors, or a private equity firm. Find out whether your platform can play alongside the big kids. Look for examples of large investors who have invested into offers on the platform.

  1. How much has actually been raised through the website?

Some of the platforms count offline and pre-committed investments towards their published totals. The FMA has recently been cracking down on this practice, so most of the good platforms know exactly how much did and did not come through their coffers. Ask about the average investments sizes, how many people invest in each campaign, and how many people in each offer are repeat investors.

  1. How easy will it be for your crowd to invest?

If you want your customers to become investors, then the platform needs to provide a simple sign-up process and a good experience for first-time investors. Try signing up for each of the platforms yourself and ask them about how much effort they have put into streamlining important details like payment processing and compulsory anti-money-laundering checks.

Overall, equity crowdfunding can provide a great source of capital investment, but you need to choose the right platform that suits you and your potential investors. The industry is growing in New Zealand as a viable source of capital for growing companies.

Disclosure: This article was written while working at Snowball Effect. The information in the article is based on publicly available information. You should consult the FMA’s information on equity crowdfunding for issuers before deciding which platform to work with. 

Startup Community Values

When you work in a startup, the wider community of other people who are also working in startups is incredibly important because you need a peer group to hang out with. Lawyers like to hang out with lawyers, doctors like to hang out with other doctors and people who work in tech startups like to hang out and swap war stories.

“Are you a Java developer?” The man in a suit at my first startup event in London asked me briskly. “Because I’m looking for a Java developer.” I stumbled and stuttered a little because we hadn’t even finished exchanging pleasantries. He sensed that I wasn’t what he was looking for and turned his back on me sharply to disappear into the throng. I had only just arrived in London and I was used to the casual, and friendly way that people networked after-hours over a beer in New Zealand.

The London tech scene was a shock to the system for me because the city is much larger and people are much more focused on their own personal business objectives. But after a while, I began to find my tribe. It took several months of coffees, meetups and missed connections, but eventually the fabric of the London startup ecosystem started to make sense for me. By the time I left London in 2014 I was sad to leave behind so many good friends and a wide network of people that I knew and admired.

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Why is building a website so hard?

I’ve been working in tech startups for the last couple of years and have been up close and personal with what it takes to get something designed, built and onto the internet.

During the consulting parts of my career I’ve helped build plenty websites for clients. But it’s a whole different thing when you are in-house and personally responsible for whether the site is delivering results. I’ve found that as soon as you’re responsible for the actual business results, your whole mindset changes. Personally, I’ve found that all of a sudden usability and simplicity become more important than aesthetics.

I’ve always been fascinated by how things that seem like a nice easy website project can become complex, stressful and expensive. It’s not just the normal “things take longer than you expect” effect from project management. Something more profound is going on when building digital products. There are several interesting issues that cause website projects to be harder than you’d expect: Continue reading Why is building a website so hard?

How to get the most out of Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend Auckland is a full weekend event in which small teams come together and build an entire startup before pitching to a panel of investors and judges on Sunday evening. The teams don’t necessarily stay together after the weekend and usually the main benefit is the learning and the experience gained rather than any particular startup that gets built. The exercise of identifying a market problem, creating a solution and then packaging it all up into a website, mobile app and investment pitch is an adrenaline fuelled roller coaster.

Startup Weekend Logo
It’s amazing what you can get done with a highly motivated team in a short period of time and many successful companies have come out of startup weeekends around the world. But more important is that lessons that individual participants have taken back to their own startups or corporate jobs to make these organisations more flexible, agile and customer centred.

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Equity Crowdfunding is the Ultimate Customer Loyalty Program

Alex Tynion from SeedInvest and I sat down recently to talk through some of the things that we’ve learned from helping the first few companies who have “tested the waters” under the new Reg A equity crowdfunding rules. Regulation A is an equity crowdfunding rule that allows private companies to raise money from the general public. So far, we have helped three companies on SeedInvest to reach over $10M in indicated interest from over 2,000 people each.

There are some common mindsets and practices that we’ve seen across the companies that have been most successful with equity crowdfunding.

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The Moral Hazard Created by Abundant Startup Funds

I vehemently disagree with a lot of this article, but it’s so well written that I just had to share it. Murad Ahmed from the Financial Times neatly captures the changes that are happening in the London startup scene and the increase in angel investing and venture capital in Europe.

For 4 years I lived through the heyday of this boom in UK startup funding. But my experience was that to go along with the increase in investors, there has been a corresponding increase in startups so that the two have balanced each other out. The good startups that get funded by good investors are still dedicated, hardworking and humble.

I’ve reproduced the article from the Financial Times site below because the article is so important as a record of a certain time in London’s startup scene and it would be a shame to lose it. You can see the original article, if it’s still visible on the FT site.

Enter FT journalist Murad Ahmed

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Venture Capital at SeedInvest

I recently joined the SeedInvest team in New York. SeedInvest is a leading equity crowdfunding platform that is streamlining the startup investing process so that new types of investors can invest directly in early stage companies. I’m responsible for digital marketing and helping startups promote their campaigns to investors. It’s been a big couple of months for me, so I thought I’d take a moment to update you on what I’ve been up to.

1. I’ve moved to New York

New York has always been a centre of financial innovation and the earliest venture capital investors almost all started out in New York before moving to Silicon Valley. I’ve always wanted to live in New York. In late 2014 I won the green card lottery and we have now relocated permanently to the USA. So far, we’ve been using AirBnB to experiment with different neighbourhoods and have fallen in love with Tribeca, Nolita and Brooklyn Heights.

New York has a great environment to build a startup. The city is alive 24 hours a day and there is a great mix of design, business and technical skills. I love the intense energy and the mix of cultures from all over the world.

2. I’m still working with startups

As soon as I knew that we were moving to the states, I started researching the emerging American equity crowdfunding platforms. I’ve long believed that democratising the financing of small businesses will be one of the greatest shifts in the structure of capitalism since the advent of the public stock markets. Allowing new entrepreneurs and new investors to find each other will create new companies, new jobs and new opportunities. I loved being part of investment platform Seedrs in the UK and with recent changes in US securities laws, the timing was perfect to transfer these skills to the USA.

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How to value a startup

Company valuation is one of the most misunderstood parts of early stage investing. Both investors and entrepreneurs get themselves endlessly tied in knots trying to calculate a startup’s “value” despite the fact that the whole concept of valuation is entirely artificial. How to value a startup is one of the most common questions I get when I present to entrepreneurs on the topic of venture capital and online angel investing. What worries me the most is that talking about valuation in isolation can distract people from the real issues of economics (amount of cash invested) and control (percentage equity offered).

Social media for executive profiling
The value of a startup is determined by the willingness of the entrepreneur and the investor to agree on a price that works for both parties.

One of the most common questions that you hear entrepreneurs and VCs ask each other is “What’s your valuation”? It seems like a sensible question and it’s a tempting way to compare different companies who are raising capital, but the idea of a single number as an agreed valuation for a startup is a dangerous distraction from the real issues. The term “valuation” is simply a useful shorthand to talk about several independent variables. These variables can be quickly forgotten when you start a conversation with the issue of valuation.

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Dave McClure on equity crowdfunding

Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits interviewed VC investor Dave McClure as part of their book the Lean Entrepreneur. The Lean Entrepreneur was published in 2013 and I picked up a copy after seeing Patrick Vlaskovits speak at the Innovation Warehouse in London.

Patrick has a really practical and grounded approach to innovation, growth hacking and the world of startups. He’s been an inspiration to me and has contributed a lot back to the community through mentoring and coaching various startups.

After reading the book last year, I got a copy of the audiobook on Audible. Some of the checklists and bullet-points don’t survive the transition to audio that well, but overall the audiobook was excellent and I recommend it alongside the Lean Startup as one of the key audiobooks for entrepreneurs and investors.

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