Dublin-based equity crowdfunding company Spark Crowdfunding reports it has enjoyed a boom in new business in the year to the end of June, with many ordinary investors looking for new ways to deploy higher than expected levels of savings.
The company’s chief executive, Chris Burge, said this alternative source of finance was soaring in popularity. The ability to pitch a business plan online and receive funding in return for equity is an enticing idea for entrepreneurs who need investment. “Early-stage companies looking for new venture funding have been able to access more funds from the crowd than in ordinary economic circumstances,” he said.
“We have seen a record increase in new accounts in the half-year from January to June as small to medium-sized Irish investors were presented with opportunities to invest in a range of new businesses, including Nova UCD-based Akkure and Paddy Power’s new sports technology platform ASX, which raised €2.2 million in less than a month.”
Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start-up companies also featured strongly in the list of investment opportunities on offer, as many companies now use equity crowdfunding to match the funds offered by the state agency.
“Zipp Mobility, Ireland’s leading electric scooter share scheme, raised €560,000 on the Spark platform and was one such company that was able to draw down matched funds from Enterprise Ireland as a result of this.”
Burge said equity crowdfunding was a method of raising capital predominantly used by start-ups and early-stage companies. “Like Dragons’ Den, equity crowdfunding offers shares in the company to a number of potential investors in exchange for financing. Each investor is entitled to a stake in the company proportional to their investment.
“A company seeking to raise new money to finance its growth plans offers a fixed number of shares to the ‘crowd’ in return for a fixed amount of money. The crowd then subscribes for shares in the company and if the target amount of money is reached, the company issues new shares to the investors.”
Unlike conventional capital-raising methods for early-stage companies, which primarily rely on investments from a small group of professional investors, equity crowdfunding targets a broader group of small to medium-sized investors. “The main objective of equity crowdfunding is to raise the required capital by obtaining small contributions from a large number of investors registered on the platform. In the case of Spark Crowdfunding, investors can invest as little as €100 in a company.
“Our investor database grew by over 140 per cent in the first six months of this year as the ordinary Irish individual spent more time online and had higher levels of disposable income. Our average investment size is just €2,500, but when you multiply that across thousands of investors it doesn’t take long for them to build up the firepower of a venture capitalist. Our role is to facilitate connections between exciting Irish start-ups and individual investors interested in finding the next Stripe.
“We want to give Irish investors access to new investment opportunities that would previously only have been open to venture capitalists or private equity firms. With platforms like ours, investors can invest anything from €100 upwards and support Irish start-ups in the process. With new campaigns coming on stream every month, there are always new investment opportunities.
“With our EIIS scheme there is no limit on the max return you can make. Many other EIIS schemes have an ‘up-side cap’ that limits the return you get. Our investors pay zero management fees and it is true equity investment. It is not ‘debt’ dressed up as equity.”
Spark Crowdfunding’s future plans include a greater penetration into the Irish start-up funding landscape, as well as the company’s expansion into new territories over the coming years.
For further information, contact Chris Burge on [email protected] or 087-8519050