Equity crowdfunding is evolving quickly. Naturally, equity crowdfunding fills the funding gap that exists for many early-stage businesses that are too risky for banks, too early for angels and too small for venture capitalists. But now, later-stage companies are catching on to the power of professionally managed crowdfunding platforms (like Seedrs). What we are starting to realise is that equity crowdfunding works really well for certain types of business, regardless of what stage they are at.
This month, publicly-listed, award winning English winemaker and craft brewer Chapel Down (listed on ISDX) launched a £1.6M crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs. In less than three weeks, they overfunded to almost £4M, from around 1,400 investors – which makes this the largest equity crowdfunding campaign ever. This was the first time a public company – anywhere in the world – campaigned for investment via equity crowdfunding. This is an excitingly innovative approach to raising growth capital, especially when most companies at their stage, with their positive financial traction, traditionally reach out to institutions and large individual investors in The City. This is part of the continuing evolution in crowdfunding.
So, why does campaigning on Seedrs make so much sense for larger, listed companies?:
Companies need investment to grow
Regardless of stage, businesses often need capital investment for growth. Publicly listed companies are no different and look to raise money from institutions and retail investors alike. But when they do this the company is not actually raising money through the exchange. Instead, the brokers and placers are the distribution channels through which the institutional and retail investors are accessed. Seedrs, in the case of Chapel Down, is a new type of distribution channel through which Chapel Down as a publicly listed company can access retail investors who might not otherwise have been able to be reached.
Raising investment takes time
When raising investment traditionally through brokers, it can be immensely time consuming and inefficient. Roadshows, sales calls, meetings, emails – it can be draining on the resources of a company. Seedrs provides a very quick, efficient and online process for the publicly listed company to reach out to these investors, and for these investors to quickly and easily subscribe for publicly listed shares.
It’s more than just funding
Inviting customers to invest in your business is a great way to build long-term brand engagement and resonance among people who are already bought in on a transactional level. By inviting them the chance to invest and be a part of your future, you’re inviting them to have a deeper, longer-term relationship with your business. Because these customer-investors will be literally bought into the business, they’ll have a vested interest in helping with user research and feedback, buy your brand instead of competitors, becoming brand evangelists, and keeping in touch.
Combine online and offline investors
Quoted companies likely have previous investors who will have pre-emption rights and may want to follow on their investment. Or, they could have interest among outside institutions. Bringing these offline investors online (through a placing or new share offer), along with a crowd of customers and potential customers, is dramatically more efficient. All investors, regardless of size, can be offered the same transparent terms and same (ordinary) shares; shareholder documentation is standardised; and the ongoing relationship between the business and its investors is more effectively managed through a post-investment investor relations web portal.
Offer more than investment
Many UK businesses may qualify to offer advantageous tax reliefs to investors, including EIS, that wouldn’t be applicable for shares purchased on an exchange. Investors need to hold shares for a minimum period of time to qualify for the reliefs (three years in the case of EIS), but many investors find the tax reliefs highly appealing for longer-term investments and prefer to have access to investments that qualify. Crowdfunding through a platform also makes it possible to offer investors additional perks like free samples, invitations to AGMs, early-access to future products, tours and more. These additional rewards aren’t easy to manage on an exchange.
Business crowdfunding has evolved from raising equity for startups, to crowdfunded funds, to crowd equity convertibles and now crowdinvesting in publicly-listed companies. Our internal legal team and professional processes mean we can continue to offer new, exciting ways for people to invest in businesses of all stages, sizes and types.