Why I invest

We’re a curious bunch here at PledgeMe. Although less flickering-bulb-in-your-face-as-we-interrogate curious, and more so-what’s-your-story curious. We get to hear the reasons behind the ideas when we chat with campaigners and it’s so good seeing someone light up with passion when they lay their story out for us.

But it’s only recently that I’ve begun stopping and asking the other people that matter – the crowd – about their stories, about their motivation to support kiwi ingenuity. And the responses are so wide-ranging.

There’s a whole spectrum of reasons – profit-seeking, prestige, emotional fulfilment, social belonging – some quite visible and logical, some less so but just as powerful.

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Many ways to shear a sheep

Fair to say, there’s many ways to shear a sheep. And there’s many reasons for doing so. For wool. For competition. For the moment. For the story. For kicks. For the sheep’s productivity and wellbeing. For the farm. For the shear enjoyment! Every shearer has their own why. Likewise for every investor.

Crowdsourcing the Why

I want to get your insight. I want to hear from our crowd. What thoughts and feelings swim through you before you invest? Regardless of whether you’ve just tried it once or you’re a serial campaign backer, I’d love to hear your one-line reason: Why I invest.

Why I invest?

Sure why don’t I set the wheels in motion. For me, money is only as valuable as the things it enables me and others to do.

I invest to empower companies who are making a real & positive impact on people’s lives and are doing it their own way.

Take a minute and tell us your “why” here.

I used to think sales was slimy

I used to think sales was a yucky thing that men in suits with slicked back hair did. Really, every time sales came up I’d fight the urge to gag, but would then go on to do exactly that. Sales. Getting people using our platform, educating our users and the public, and gently bringing our view of the world and their view of the world together.

Sales can be genuine, sales can help people, and sales doesn’t need to make anyone feel used (or abused). And, you don’t need to call salespeople ninjas.

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(We promise you don't have to look like this. Photo cred: Ryan McGuire)

 

The thing that really got me thinking differently about sales, was this article about Adam Grant’s study on salespeople. In the study, Adam Grant shows that extroverts don’t come out ahead in sales, ambiverts do. You have to be equal parts talker and listener, to really solve the problems of your customers. Adam also wrote two of my favourite books of all times (Give and Take, and the Originals) so I listen when he blogs. Which made me realise what I thought I knew about sales was probably wrong. 

 

In the last few months, we’ve realised that while we were doing sales pretty well on our own, we needed someone to come into the team to own (and drive) the whole sales process. So we’ve been tweaking our thinking on how this could work, and what you’ll find below is our plan. The role will be part salary / part commission based. How much you make is really up to you, but here’s the main points:

  • $40,000 base salary
  • $100 for every CrowdfundingU paid for
  • $900 for every launched equity or lending campaign
  • 0.5% of the total amount raised by a campaign
  • 20% sales bonus (of your base salary) if you make your sales target in the first year.

 

Are you interested in working with us? Read the job description below, and then send me an email by 5pm Friday 30 September with:

  • your take on how crowdfunding will change the world,
  • why you’d like to work with us and
  • a bit more about your approach (and success) in sales.

 

We’ll be setting up interviews for the first week of October, and hope to have someone on board from early November (if not sooner!).

 

PledgeMe Sales Manager

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POSITION DESCRIPTION

Role: Sales Manager (though: you can set your own title)

Location: Auckland

Rate: $40,000 base salary + commission

PledgeMe is a New Zealand focussed crowdfunding platform, that launched in 2012 and offers project, equity and lending based crowdfunding.

What we do

Crowdfunding is as simple as it sounds, you go out for funding. You set a specific goal, a deadline, and offer your crowd something in return for their pledges. We have three types of crowdfunding: project, equity and lending. Project campaigns offer rewards, equity campaigns offer shares in a company, and lending campaigns offer loan notes from companies or organisations. Campaigns need to meet their goal by their deadline to be processed, this pushes the campaigner to share and their crowd to pledge (or it doesn’t happen).

Mission

To help Kiwis fund the things they care about.

What it means to be our Sales Manager

PledgeMe has a great market reputation and attracts a regular stream of Equity (and increasingly, Lend) leads, but dedicated resource is needed to convert those leads into committed campaigns. Our Sales Manager is responsible for nurturing Equity and Lend leads so we have more campaigns launch and succeed, ultimately growing PledgeMe and helping more kiwis fund the things they care about. 

Part of the nurture process is signing leads up to participate in CrowdfundingU. CrowdfundingU is an important revenue stream and organisations that participate in CrowdfundingU are more likely to run successful campaigns.

From CrowdfundingU we need leads to make a contractual commitment to campaign with PledgeMe. But we also want to maintain our 50% campaign success rate. We’re looking for quantity and quality.

To achieve PledgeMe’s objectives, our Sales Manager will:

  • Generate leads alongside our Chief Bubble Blower, Rad Debtor, Board and PledgeMe Friends.
  • Work with our Chief Bubble Blower to prioritise leads based on likelihood to commit and run a successful campaign
  • Create design collateral with our in house designer
  • Nurture leads through the sales process, including selling in CrowdfundingU as a critical step to becoming campaign ready
  • Engage the Chief Bubble Blower and Rad Debtor when needed to provide expert guidance to businesses through the sales process
  • Identify barriers to organisations committing to campaign and work with the lead and Chief Bubble Blower to find innovative solutions to help close the deal
  • Secure commitment from leads to campaign with PledgeMe
  • Ensure businesses that commit to campaigning with PledgeMe complete all of the necessary contractual documentation
  • Identify improvements in the sales process to enable more businesses to commit to campaigning with PledgeMe.

 

What you’ll need in your hipster tote bag

To be successful as PledgeMe Sales Manager you will need:

  • Enthusiasm for crowdfunding and be able to communicate what crowdfunding has to offer effectively to leads
  • Superb people skills – ability to nurture leads through the sales process (rather than hard sell them!) but still drive outcomes
  • Broad understanding of and interest in businesses of all shapes and sizes, including business financing
  • Ability to close a deal.
  • To back yourself! Your remuneration is tiered based on a successful sale and campaign so you’ve got to be confident you can do the job!

How we’ll pay you

Our Sales Manager will receive a base salary of $40,000 plus sales commission structured as follows:

CrowdfundingU Launch campaign Successful campaigns
PledgeMe Equity $100 $900 0.5% of total raise
PledgeMe Lend $100 $900 0.5% of total raise

 

And if your sales targets of $6 million for the year are met, you’ll get a 20% (of base salary) bonus too.


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One more thing…

We hold our values pretty close to heart in the office, and they are:

  1. Support transparency and trust
  2. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata
  3. Be seriously fun(ding) humans
  4. Do good and do well
  5. Be constantly evolving


We want someone to come into the team who resonates with those values, but brings their own perspectives and skill sets. We don’t all need to think or act the same way, but we all need to be care and pushing towards the common mission of helping Kiwis fund the things they care about.

Ethical Lending

Our friend, Raf Manji, Christchurch City Councillor and progressive banker, shares his thoughts on how the financial system is broken and how crowdlending can help to create a more supportive and sustainable marketplace between borrowers and lenders.

Raf Manji, progressive banker

 

One of the great opportunities for crowdlending or peer to peer (P2P) lending is that it can create a form of agency that does not currently exist in the lending marketplace. P2P is generally an unsecured form of lending, between individuals, where the amounts lent are usually small scale and distributed over a number of borrowers, in order to spread risk. As it becomes more sophisticated, lenders are starting to focus more on credit ratings and scores and use data to discern whom best to lend to. This is starting to drive a shift in interest rates and how those are calculated, with lower rates for better risks.

But what if lower rates actually lessened the risk of non-payment and default? I have just finished reading a very familiar story, where a borrower took on a short-term loan for an unexpected family need, and ends up being bankrupted. What kind of financial system promotes that? Well, sadly ours does. The need for short-term loans, outside a traditional borrowing format, such as a mortgage, can often be the straw that breaks the back of highly indebted borrowers. However, this straw is not the loan itself but the outrageously high interest rate that is attached. I would argue it is the unreasonably high interest rates (by that I mean anything over 20%) that cause default, not the actual loan itself. In other words, the default outcome is baked into the deal from the beginning.

We hear stories all the time of how a small loan balloons into an unpayable debt, and bankruptcy arrives soon after. Why would any rational lender promote this approach? Well, the interest rates are so high that they actually do get the principal back and a reasonable rate of interest, prior to the loan going bad. One might ask, why don’t they just charge a manageable and reasonable rate of interest in the first place, and not cause such personal misery to those least able to afford the loan?For me this comes down to the ethics of finance. Those who have easy access to capital, benefit both from lower rates and higher returns. The current financial system is heavily weighted against those who are not engaged in the tax-free housing Ponzi scheme and who rely purely on basic wages to survive. The low-grade “instant finance” lending system that services this end of the market is parasitic and unconcerned as to the outcomes they create. They argue they are providing capital to those who are unable to access traditional bank lending. That’s true and raises issues about our mainstream banking system. They would also argue that they price interest rates according to the poor credit of the borrowers. Of course their credit is poor! They live on wages and are often already in debt. The strain of that debt simply compounds away, with stagnant wages no match for the power of compound interest.

So far so bad, but what does P2P have to offer in this space? I would venture that it can offer a new form of ethical lending. This ethical lending is about the broader concept of helping people out, as you might do for a friend, not simply profiting from someone’s short-term cash squeeze. I would argue a lower interest rate would not only probably increase the likelihood of the loan being repaid but would be a fairer cost for the money provided. How interest rates of 20% plus (standard even for credit cards) can be charged, in an environment where, to all extents and purposes, the cost of money is negligible, is simply wrong. I propose that we look at creating an interest rate system where the rate falls each time a repayment is made. So where the initial rate may start off at a high level (I think 20% should be an absolute maximum), it reduces by a certain amount, for example, a half to one percent, after each payment, until it comes towards a reasonable level. How these numbers are crunched remains open.

The beauty of open, peer-focused and distributed systems like PledgeMe, is that they can experiment and iterate new ideas and findings, in order to reach an optimal outcome. For me, that outcome is where lenders make reasonable returns and borrowers pay reasonable and manageable costs for borrowing money. The current lending system is completely inequitable and broken and one of the jobs of PledgeMe has is to fix that and redraw the relationship between lender and borrower. No pressure!

Like a little piece of coal, we shine under pressure!