Smoothing Out the Peaks and Troughs

“Booms and busts are amplified when a select few control the allocation of money.”

William Stewart, just a second ago.

Here’s my question — does crowdfunding have the ability to help smooth out the peaks and troughs of an economy over time?

In any market, or more generally any economy, enthusiastic demand for things causes expansions (peaks) and underwhelming demand for things causes recessions (troughs).

Being a cub of the Celtic Tiger, I’ve lived through one of the most emphatic boom-bust cycles in history. I think I’ve picked up some learnings along the way. So here is my biased opinion.

The issue, as I see it, is that when a recession looms, the supply of things being created drops because the creators (businesses) start being starved of the capital investment they need to create things. And without things to buy, people buy less things — effectively supply influencing demand. A lot of this is down to banks and institutions holding the big buckets of cash money.

So in a financial system where the money, and therefore the investing power, lies in the hands of a few, we see a scenario spin out kinda like what happened in Ireland not so long ago. An unplugged but overflowing bath followed by a swift righty tighty of the tap.

But let’s say this scenario plays out within a purely (hypothetical) democratic financial system where everyone has the ability to make their own investment decisions. The kind of system that crowdfunding is helping create.

So in this crowdfunding friendly economy a recession looms; there’s some fear, anxiety and hesitation amongst The People.

Some of us will rein in our investing activity. We’ll look at the menu and our appetite to save is greater than our desire to invest in companies — fair enough. But, it’s not a widespread slam on the brakes that happens when there is centralised control, when the ‘big boys’ make decisions on everyone’s behalf.

In our scenario, there will still be those who want to put their spare money to use in a meaningful way. This may be by investing in companies which have the vision and ability to spur the economy, create value, jobs and all that good stuff. The key point is that, knowing that there are people like that out there (heaps more people than there are financial institutions), many companies won’t feel the need to shrink into themselves until the tide has turned and the institutional tap is turned back on. Instead they go out to their crowd and with their help, make the brave decision to continue to push, advance and overcome.

So could crowdfunding help ease the lows of this warped capitalist system we live in?

I reckon it could.

Instead of grinding to a halt and waiting for monetary policy and government incentivisation to restart the economy, crowdfunding helps cultivate a landscape of continual opportunity. It may be an idealised vision but, even in this emergent era of crowdfunding, the potential of open, accessible, inclusive and decentralised investment is mighty.

We’re already seeing the effect of shifting the power away from the few and to the many on PledgeMe.

If you had told me a few years ago that people would invest in a startup like Ooooby with no discernible profit, I might have laughed at you. But it happened, and they’re thriving, and having an impact which in itself will help protect us from global financial bad weather. Wow.

While the fat cat sits there, no ironing can be done.

While the fat cat sits there, no ironing can be done.

So what’s missing in order to establish a more democratic economic system?

Well here in New Zealand we’re already seeing crowdfunding taking off in a big way. But the kicker that would tip the economy in favour of this kinda direction is education.

There are heeeeaaaps of people out there at the moment who give their money to banks and other financial institutions to look after. And that’s cool and everything, but there are other options for those with some disposable income and a desire to have positive impacts. Getting the word out about equity crowdfunding and lending, and creating a demand for it is probably the best next step we can take in this direction. So get sharing our How To PledgeMe guides, and let’s help iron out some of those peaks and troughs!

Collaborating with our crowd to increase impact

It all started in early March 2012. Anna (that’s me) and Alex (that’s this guy) met at a cafe to talk about our journeys as leaders of organisations with a bigger vision that just financial value creation. I was, and I guess still am, the  co-founder of PledgeMe, and Alex had recently been appointed CE of the Hikurangi Foundation (now the Ākina Foundation).

Over a coffee, we decided we should hang out more, which turned into an offer of office space, which turned into them turfing us out after two years because they just couldn’t get rid of us (and we’d outgrown the office… and they refused to let us work in the closet).

8235655647_b4db077075_o

Alex and Anna both speaking at TEDx in 2012

Ākina has been with us every step of the way. From the earthquakes that shut the office down, to scolding us for the rainbow coloured sprinkles we’d leave on the boardroom table, to literally holding me up when I crowdsurfed at our million dollar party, right through to the launch of PledgeMe.Equity and our first campaign to crowdfund crowdfunding.

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Back to the books: CrowdfundingU + fee change

Team PledgeMe has learned a lot over the last year. And now with 12 equity campaigns funded (out of 19 launched) we have a pretty clear idea of what’s working and what needs refining to help kiwis fund the things they care about.

As we do, we listened to our crowd. We asked them what would help get them ready to run equity campaigns, and what they thought would give them the best chance of success. We clearly heard that companies wanted more support in the lead up, more education around, and a better structured programme to ease them into a campaign.

Taking that on board, and mixing in our experience in crowdfunding…

we’re launching, CrowdfundingU!

Welcome to CrowdfundingU

CrowdfundingU will provide a structured 6 week programme for equity campaigners, running through all the things you need to know about:

  • What is Equity Crowdfunding
  • Documentation do’s and don’ts
  • Mapping your Crowd
  • Communicating with your Crowd
  • Pitching to your Crowd (from visuals to events)
  • Launching your Campaign

While comprehensive, the programme is not intense. It’s not some sort of boot camp where we wake you up at 5 AM and make you do press ups in the mud. We focus on the essentials on a one-to-one basis to make sure companies are ready for their campaigns before they hit the launch button. The sessions give an up to six week lead in time to launch, but can be condensed for folk who want to move quicker than the average bear (or tiger).

So for all of you who want to learn more about CrowdfundingU click here. If you want to sign up you can do that there too.

Got questions? Ask Will, our Equity Champion, more questions here or tee up a time to chat.

This does mean our pricing will change

To reflect the change in the way we’re running equity campaigns we’re changing how we charge for them.

There will now be an upfront fee of $1,500. This replaces the fees for legal work and background checks we were charging previously. It also covers the one-to-one time you’ll get with one (or more) of the PledgeMe team through CrowdfundingU.

PledgeMe.Equity fees as of 01/02/16
CrowdfundingU $1,500 (zero rated) Paid before campaign starts
Success fee 5% of total raised (zero rated)
Credit card fee 2.8% + 25 cents per transaction (Only on pledges paid by credit card, average fee to date is ~0.3%)

 

To use PledgeMe’s Shareholder Portal there is a fee of $25 (plus GST) per month, first two months free. It’s optional to use this service.

And of course, you may incur additional costs launching and running your campaign, ranging from legal and accounting to design and communications.

The benefits

Over the past year we’ve found that running equity crowdfunding campaigns can be a daunting task. Having done two rounds for PledgeMe, I can confirm that it is indeed a little bit scary. So CrowdfundingU is designed to break that fear down into small chunks and make it manageable. Here’s how CrowdfundingU will benefit all you potential equity crowdfunders out there.

More structure

One of the big things we heard from our crowd was that they wanted a more structured process. Not a rigid set of guidelines, but something more than just a how to guide. CrowdfundingU breaks helps you get all the corner and outside bits of the puzzle locked down, to make the middle bit easier.

More support

Campaigns all come in different shapes and sizes, and from campaign to campaign we were figuring out how we could help companies. With the one-to-one sessions during CrowdfundingU it gives the companies space to ask us questions, and gives PledgeMe time to hear what the companies need and go away and work on it.

Pitch Kitchen

We’ll still be running Pitch Kitchens during CrowdfundingU, but these will be better informed and come sooner in the process to give companies good feedback on their pitch as they’re building it. Because of the better structure and increased support we’ll have a better idea of the skills the companies need present and so can arrange stellar lineups (from our crowd and theirs).

One year on for Yeastie Boys

Exactly a year ago we were ringing the bell to begin our PledgeMe crowdfunding campaign, at a launch party in Wellington’s Golding’s Free Dive. A meagre 31 minutes later we were celebrating the successful raise of $500,000 with a whole bunch of our 200 new shareholders.

Moments after the high-fives, backslapping, and congratulatory hugs died down I distinctly remember thinking: “Uh, oh!! Now I’ve got to actually go out and do what I said I could.” It suddenly dawned on me what a difficult year 2015 could become.

WOOOOO!

Photo credit: Bryn Price (who is an awesome photographer — you can follow him on Instagram or check out his site here — as you can tell from Jess’ candid expression of amazement).

 

It has been even more difficult than I could have imagined but, also, so much more rewarding than I could have dreamed.

Having 200 shareholders is the opposite of what everyone would have had me believe when we looked at our capital raising options.

What is pitched, by those more familiar with traditional investment, is the burden of looking after shareholders. The reality, for us, has been shareholders as a source of inspiration and a constant reminder that we’ve followed the right path.

When I broke both my arms on a trip to USA, in July 2015, who was there to do my washing and be my tour guide at the end of each work day? Two of our fantastic shareholders. I couldn’t ever imagine the folk behind a private equity firm washing my undies!

Who would touch Stu's undies. Gross!

Stu with his helpful undie-washing Portland shareholders.

Our shareholders are engaged in positive ways — from buying their beer to share with friends, to being brand ambassadors all over the world, through to providing excellent analysis and thought provoking feedback on our business.

In the year since we raised the capital to grow I have spent 40 weeks in UK, a couple in USA, and only a small amount in New Zealand. I’ve now moved my entire family (and a dog!) to England to pursue the great opportunity we see here.

We could never have pursued this opportunity without the capital invested and our crowd.

The most important thing we have done since raising capital is to take on Zane Smith — Yeastie Boys’ Master of Everything. Zane now runs everything in New Zealand and, although I’m still heavily involved from afar, I couldn’t have made the move to the antipodes (with no UK revenue coming in) without someone like Zane.

I consider myself an accidental entrepreneur — that is, someone who simply loved beer and fell into business — the urgency that I feel on a day-to-day basis probably pegs me as a natural business owner. I’m impatient about everything and it is never done as well as I’d like!

But you soon come to realise that it takes perseverance, and not visionary skills, to get a business kicked off in UK. Perhaps the next time we raise money, I’ll be able to hire the people who can take over the perseverance tasks!

BEERZ

When I look back at the year, we’ve done some things which we couldn’t (or at least wouldn’t) have ever done without our shareholders… we have:

  • more than doubled our staff (albeit only from 1 to 2.5),
  • raised our revenue by 50% since we started producing in UK, and that could have been a lot higher if not hampered by bureaucracy,
  • moved to a model of self-distribution and online retailing in New Zealand, which will result in significantly higher margins and better connection with our customers,
  • embedded the right relationships in UK to build our business from the ground up.

There’s a list, far too long to write here, of what I’d like to have done but haven’t been able to manage yet. But I’m not sure what I’d actually do if that list didn’t exist!

Most importantly, I couldn’t be much happier about changing tack on the way we have done things in 2015.

All this makes the year ahead tremendously exciting. With our processes and bureaucracy (mostly) sorted… Expect to hear big things from Yeastie Boys in 2016.

PledgeMe.Equity/Private

While most Kiwis were at the bach over the holidays, Team PledgeMe were hard at work adding new features to the platform, inventing new products, and searching for a new board member.

But the newest of the shiny new things we’re unveiling is the ability to run private campaigns on PledgeMe.Equity.

PledgeMe.Equity/Private means companies can go out to their crowd, and their crowd only, to secure investment. Companies can raise money through their personal and professional networks and customers, having a bit more control over who sees their information while still going through the PledgeMe process.

I’ve put together a brief FAQ to fill y’all in on what we mean by “private” campaigns.

Q: Why private campaigns? I thought PledgeMe is all about transparency!

A: We are. But we’re also about actively listening to our crowd! They spoke, we listened. We heard from the hundreds of companies we’ve talked to that some would like the ability to do a private round.

The two main reasons people told us they wanted to run a private campaign were:

1. running a friends and family round or an initial investment round (this will be especially helpful for very early stage start ups), and

2. raise through their crowd of customers without showing the world what they’re up to just yet.

Friends and family

Going out to friends and family can be difficult for many entrepreneurs. We’ve had feedback from a few startups who are very interested in using PledgeMe.Equity so potential investors can read, digest and make an informed investment decision in their own time (rather than over Sunday dinner at Aunt Edna’s place).

A private PledgeMe.Equity campaign would provide a structure and a system so both parties are best informed of the potential returns and risks. This is useful for entrepreneurs and interested investors alike.

Not ready to show the world our business

A few companies who PledgeMe has been working with are doing some pretty incredible things but they aren’t quite ready to tell the world (or the National Business Review). In most cases these are high growth companies or businesses with close competition around the same stage in the market.

Private PledgeMe.Equity campaigns will mean these companies — who have stress tested their idea, got a crowd of people ready to invest and who have a clear plan — can push go without any of the public/media focus that comes with a public campaign.

Q: What’s the real difference between public and private?

In terms of readying your company for accepting investment: nothing.

Regardless of running a public or a private campaign, a company is going to need to follow the same process to putting forward an offer on our platform. The only difference is that instead of the offer being visible to anyone on pledgeme.co.nz, it will only go out to those you choose to share it with.

One potential difference for a private campaign is that some of the costs around getting your campaign ready may be reduced or eliminated (compared to public campaigns). Things like pitch videos cost money and, depending on the private campaign, may not be necessary.

Q: What’s the advantage over using PledgeMe versus doing it myself?

PledgeMe charges a 5% success fee on the total raised for all campaigns which reach their funding goals. This cost isn’t for everyone and we know how important cash is for early stage companies. However, there are a few key reasons companies come to us and see value in our service:

• Company Hygiene. In order for any company to use our platform they have to provide a full list of documentation around the investment (which may not be on hand at Aunt Edna’s dinner table). So the process itself is transparent. Companies have to put together a proper business plan, constitution, financials and valuation with assumptions so investors can assess the potential risks and returns.

Taking the personal pressure off asking people close to you. Allowing people to make a decision on their own, but with a clear deadline, is really the best thing for both parties. It means investors don’t rush into something, and it means companies can concentrate on their crowd as a whole, rather than a few people at a time.

A strong foundation for growth. Since you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s the first time around you will carry this knowledge and experience forward for any additional rounds you may do — and your company is already structured to allow for this growth so your eyes can remain on the prize.

When is this going live?

It’s live now! Come have a chat with me if your company want to talk (privately) about this.

Flick me an email here or schedule a meeting directly into my calendar.

Aus-merica

Early last month, I spent two days in Melbourne and one day in Sydney meeting with local companies, co-working spaces, government, funders, and startup supporters.

Australia trip

My trip had two goals. Firstly to assess where Australia’s proposed legislation on equity crowdfunding was headed and secondly to get a sense (read sanity check) of whether PledgeMe should hop across the ditch.

Apart from realising that my American heritage felt strangely at home in the rule-focused country, here are my main findings:

Change of government is helping change the law

The Australian government has recently gone through a change of leadership (to the relief of most Australians it seems), and a shuffle of portfolios means there is a new minister in charge of the changes to their securities legislation. The Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee (CAMAC) which wrote the original report around equity crowdfunding has been abolished, leaving Australia with the mouthful of a moniker “crowd sourced equity funding” for equity crowdfunding. Now, after two rounds of submissions, the equity piece is slated to enter the innovation statement set to come out by December 2015.

There is a general sense of optimism around the changes. The new Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has a background in tech. This seems to leading the industry to believe he will make changes to support SMEs. He’s already shown he is capable of doing this with recent employee share scheme changes.

We believe that government’s role is not to tell citizens, let alone businesses, what is best, but rather to enable them to do their best.” Malcolm Turnbull

However, many predict Australia is more likely to follow the American way of equity crowdfunding. People I spoke to said as much: “Australians like rules”. This means there will probably be investor caps on how much individual investors can invest, both per campaign and per year. This stems, in part, from a general fear from institutional investors that retail investors would lose all their money in this space. New Zealand originally discussed investor caps, but decided not to go down that path. We agree with this. Caps on investment assume that retail investors need protection from themselves. This could be seen as somewhat patronising and counter to Prime Minister Turnbull’s above statement.

There has been some talk recently about the law change excluding debt/peer-to-peer(P2P),  and existing only for public companies. Both of these comments are strange, for the following reasons:

 

P2P

Debt crowdfunding, crowdlending, peer-to-peer, whatever you call it, is two thirds of the international crowdfunding market. Yep, bigger than all the equity crowdfunding and kickstarter-esque platforms combined. So it seems odd that it’s being left out of the conversation. In fact, in New Zealand, equity crowdfunding was actually an afterthought added after one of the P2P platforms made a side comment about it in a meeting in the lead up to our legislation changes. And, it’s a space that we’re really interested in ourselves as it helps more than just companies find funding – it supports individuals, other organisational set up, and social enterprises. So interested in fact, that we’re exploring an SME / organisational product for kiwis.

There are P2P platforms operating already in Australia, but under the old legislation with high compliance costs.

Public companies

Company structures in Australia are different to New Zealand.

In New Zealand, the companies coming through are private companies. They are not tied to the same continuous disclosures that a public company would be required to do, and are not required to create a public prospectus for funding. While equity crowdfunding may trigger the Takeovers Code (eg. a company has more than 50 voting shareholders) and a company may be required to audit their financials if their voting shareholders do not opt out, these companies are not classified as public.

In Australia, if you have more than 50 non-employee shareholders, you immediately move from being a proprietary (or private) company to being a public company (albeit unlisted). This means you are required to have 3 directors (2 need to be Australians) and are required to provide a directors statement, financials and an auditor’s report annually.

 

 

There is a need for funding (and a crowd)

Australia is seeing more Venture Capital funds coming through for tech, a maturing startup ecosystem, and a growth in impact investment. But, there was also a general sense that while Australia is generally wealthy, it is more likely to go into traditional investments (eg. asset classes), not currently into start ups. Also, Basel III has made it harder for SME’s to access bank loans. But there are some companies that need growth funding that aren’t supported by the current ecosystem, with 10% of Australian SME’s stating they have difficulty accessing capital to grow in a recent Deloitte report. Often, these companies either wouldn’t fall in the traditional investment space or would not choose to go down the traditional investment route.

IMG_4069

My conversations made me realise that the other side of crowdfunding (the crowd) had been seriously downplayed in the discussions around legislation changes. Everyone was hung up on the funding (and potential to lose money) and overlooked the other skills, support, and insight a crowd of consumer investors could bring.

I told the story of Brianne from Sorbet pretty much on repeat. How she went out and raised $200k from her crowd in two weeks, but not only did she get cash from her crowd; she also had three chemists invest. There was a problem she’d been working on for weeks if not months, which they came in and fixed in half an hour.

 

 

It’s a big (and complicated) market

Australia is large compared to New Zealand. With five times the population, there is more individual wealth (one person ball parked 10x that of NZ), and there are more layers to bureaucracy (city, state, federal).

There was a comment that Australia is more likely to back Australian owned, and that we would need distinctive entry plans tailored to each city. Which really made us think that if we wanted to go to Australia, we’d need partners. Companies or organisations that reflect our values, but aren’t already in the crowdfunding space.

 

 

It’s a crowded market

There are quite a few players getting ready to launch in the space. Some platforms have already completed their technical development, and there is a sense of waiting to see how the legislation lands.

Some platforms believe  the changes could come through this year (as stated in one of the documents released by government) where others think it will still be at least 6 months before the first platform is licensed and launching campaigns.

There are a range of platforms getting ready to enter the space, some with project based crowdfunding experience, some currently in the equity crowdfunding space in NZ (Equitise, My Angel Invest) and some specific niche crowdfunders (all the property….).

 

 

Where to from here?

I feel like there is little sense for PledgeMe to try and enter the Australian market on its own. But, we are open to partnering with companies in Australia to set up a platform (with us bringing the tech / expertise, and a partner bringing the potential base of campaign creators / presence / brand recognition). Partnering would be a stronger proposition than setting up a new platform from scratch.

So if there are any folk that would like to continue conversations or start conversations, get in touch with me (anna@pledgeme.co.nz). We’re keen to support the democratisation of funding in Australia, and are actively waiting to see how the final legislation pans out.

 

Final thought

For all that’s good Australia, please don’t go down the path of over regulation. If you write 635 pages of guidance for platforms like the USA, you’ve already stifled the innovation of your 140 character fueled future.

 

And…

a big thanks to everyone that took the time to meet with me and share their thoughts on the future of funding in Australia.

One year on

It’s one year ago today that we had our first successful equity campaign – for us.

It was a scary move, going out with our own campaign and asking our crowd to join us on our journey. I joke that it’s effectively the same as getting naked and running through a crowd of friends (and critics). It’s a no holds barred, warts and all approach to growing your company, and it’s not for the faint hearted. But, it worked. In 23 hours we raised our maximum goal of $100,000, and we grew from a team of 2 FTE’s and a board to a family of 186 shareholders, directors and team members.

PledgeMecake

And, we got so much more from our crowd than just the funds. In the last year we’ve gotten everything from strategy sessions to home cooked meals to contacts in Australia to campaign leads to attendees at our pitch kitchens to another round of funding. We’ve been supported commercially and personally. We’ve strengthened existing friendships and made new ones.

With your help, in the last year we’ve gone from $2.9million total pledged through the platform to $8.2million pledged. We’ve had 11 other equity campaigns funded, covering a spectrum of industries – from beer to wind turbines to solid hair care bars. And, we’ve almost hit the 1,000 mark on total funded campaigns. Yep, that’s almost 1,000 campaigns that got the funding they needed to go ahead. Since 2012.

So, I want to take this moment to say thank you. Thank you to our supporters, shareholders, and the growing PledgeMe team. We wouldn’t be where we are today without you. We also wouldn’t be who we are today without you.

AWESOME FOOD AND AWESOME TEAM

 

What does the next year hold?

  • More kiwis funding the things they care about.
  • Us pushing to hit our goal of $8.2million pledged this financial year.
  • Different ways of supporting our crowd, be it new ways help campaigners to new products we offer.
  • More inspiration. More learning. More you.
And for me? Turning 30.
xx
Anna
ps. Here are some other campaigns you might want to check out on the anniversary of our funding:

 

What's Up Wednesday

Kumara Fusion

September 30This week we’re introducing our new weekly segment: What’s Up Wednesday! Each week we’re going to chat to a current campaign creator and see how things are going for them.

And who better to start us off than Kumara Fusion! This quirky little company started back in 2012, after its founders Mr and Mrs Martinez decided they needed more non-nasty gluten-free alternatives. Thus, Kumara Fusion was born: “a vegetable-based delicacy made for and by the food conscious and intolerant”.

Kumara Fusion_Box3DGroup

With a delicious range of products catering to all needs, Kumara Fusion want to tap into the niche deli market. And they’re working hard to get there – we had a chat to them about how the campaign’s going so far:

“We’ve been talking to all kinds of people about Kumara Fusion. Today we had a national newspaper in for an interview and tomorrow we’re doing something on the Radio. We’re also very busy talking to our crowd about this campaign!”

It’s awesome to hear about all this engagement, and we can’t wait to see where their campaign goes from here. If you want to get on board and help support the future of fun food, check out their equity offer right here.

What’s a social enterprise and why are some Kiwis so scared of them?

A social enterprise is an organisation that applies commercial strategies to maximise improvements in human and environmental well-being — this may include maximising social impact rather than profits for external shareholders.

I love social enterprises. I tend to care more about companies which have three bottom lines instead of one: people, planet and profit.

The thing about social enterprises is they’re different — this scares a lot of people.

Social enterprises challenge the norm because there is no legal company structure which truly recognises this approach. People and teams literally have to figure out how to maximise their multiple bottom lines in their effort to make New Zealand (and beyond) a better place. Again, this scares people.

We currently have two companies running campaigns doing it differently. These social enterprises are using the two different channels of project and equity crowdfunding to fund the things they care about.

EAT MY LUNCH

What’s the most impressive thing you’ve done in the last three months?

Well Lisa King and Iaan Buchanan, Co-Founders of Eat My Lunch (EML), have served up 50,000 lunches to hungry Aucklanders in the first twelve weeks of opening their kitchen. Seriously, it has all happened out of the kitchen of their own house.

EML is doing things differently. They operate a ‘buy one, give one’ model. So you pay $10 and you get a lunch is delivered to your workplace and they deliver another lunch to a Kiwi kid at a low decile school who may have gone without it.

In their first twelve weeks they’ve fed more than 25,000 kids.

This is a business with purpose beyond pure profit and this confuses some people. I had a conversation with someone last week about EML who told me:

“A company like this shouldn’t be saying they’re a business and do charity work. What they’re doing is profiting off children.”

I don’t quite see it this way. EML are solving two problems:

  1. Many Aucklanders want a healthy lunch option but few pack their own, and
  2. There are many Kiwi kids who go to school without lunch.

Lisa and Iaan are providing people with a healthy option and using that money to do a little bit of good for some of the thousands of children who wouldn’t otherwise eat.

Instead of just doing the bare minimum of making a profit, they’ve decided to also help solve another social problem the country has.

‘Buy one, give one’ has been a successful business model in other shapes and forms globally. Companies can be built, turn profitable and make a difference beyond a financial return for shareholders. People shouldn’t be talked out of doing this, they should be recognised for doing things differently. Doing things better.

eml_hero

OOOOBY

Ooooby (it stands Out Of Our Own BackYards) is a company which has built an online platform to help communities deliver fresh local fruit and vege directly to people’s doorsteps.

The company was founded in 2010 through the realisation and understanding that the world’s globalised food structure was failing us at a local level. Tomatoes from Australia, grapes from Italy, apples from Canada — when much of the food we need is grown and produced locally!

Ooooby have helped deliver more than 70,000 boxes of fresh fruit and vege to more than 5,000 happy customers.

Ooooby’s founders and core team put mission before money when they launched their equity campaign. Ninety percent of company shares of Ooooby Ltd have been transferred to a charitable trust dedicated to helping our local food systems. Investment into Ooooby comes with the caution that any dividends paid must be put towards projects in this spirit.

This is different than any equity crowdfunding offer New Zealand has seen before.

It’s interesting reading the NBR comments about this story, Ooooby’s social and environmental focus was is bound to rub the old fuddie-duddies the wrong way. By the way this article was great and made very evident this offer is not a ‘normal’ investment, so thanks NBR.

Here is a good comment (and of course it’s anonymous):


NBR

What Anonymous User #3 has neglected to understand is that the growers supplying Ooooby receive 50% of the market value (e.g. what it’s sold for) compared to a standard 30% with supermarkets.

Also as outlined in their Information Memorandum they have a very defined plan on how this money will be used.

Spoiler alert: it isn’t on Fijian getaways — it’s on building this business and making greater impact.

Ooooby’s achievements and mission are admirable, alternative, and really challenge New Zealand’s current offering of entities.

Social enterprises, impact investing and this whole new space of people doing, and investing in, things for more than just money lacks understanding with a lot of Kiwis. Whether that changes now or never, PledgeMe is working with awesome people and companies to help them fund the things they care about… because we care too.

Matakana Box

———————— & as of this post:

Eat My Lunch has raised +$44,000 towards a goal of $180,000 in their Project Campaign to help fit out a commercial kitchen to feed more hungry Aucklanders (big and small).

Ooooby has raised $67,515 towards a minimum of $200,000 and a maximum of $800,000 through their Equity Campaign to help grow their team, enhance their systems and assist in setting up new Ooooby Hubs.

Funding Felt (and female founders)

Felt is a bit like Etsy but for locally made goods by Kiwi makers, designers, artists and craftspeople. Sort of like how some folk call us like Kickstarter but for New Zealand (or they did before Kickstarter was in New Zealand and equity crowdfunding was legalised). But, other than the underlying functionality of the website we are both worlds apart from our global cohort.

Doing something with a local focus makes what you do tangible, real, hyperlocal, meaning you’re not just building an online platform but an offline community that can really truly care about you as a platform of accessible people not a platform of international pixel pushers.

Which is why we’re so excited about Lucy, Felt’s CEO, launching an equity campaign for Felt on PledgeMe this week (it’ll be live here from 5:30 PM on Wednesday). She’s already travelled up and down the country to meet with her potential investors, has over 700 people signed up interested to invest, and is in the final countdown to launching her campaign.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 3.27.40 pmHer quotes from supporters are beautiful, and her pitch heart felt (which, makes sense, since her twitter handle is @iheartfelt). We were really lucky to see her pitch in action in Wellington and Auckland, and to meet some of her community of crafters and supporters.

We first met Lucy over 6 months ago when a shareholder put her in touch to discuss doing an investment round. At that point, she’d already done a lot of thinking about raising money, but had been planning to hit go pre-earthquake and to pitch to individual angels. Their world changed quite a bit when the Christchurch earthquake hit, but in some ways waiting was for the best because as Lucy puts it “the legislation changes allowed us to do what we really wanted — get our community of makers and buyers involved in our company”.

The community that Felt has created is a veritable who’s who of kiwi makers, but with sales made all over the world. Including to Antarctica.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 3.51.24 pm

Lucy came to our pitch kitchen in Christchurch in May, and since then has been working to complete her business plan, pitch video, and financials. The biggest hurdle was finding the time to work through the plan, but Lucy definitely made it happen in her own way, with her crowd of supporters around her commenting in Google docs. 

I, personally, am excited to get another female founder up on the platform. Especially one from the South Island, and doubly especially one from Christchurch. That city continues to inspire us with their attitude towards doing things differently.

If you’d like to be kept updated in the lead up to the Felt launch, sign up to their list here and check out their campaign when it goes live at 5:30 on Wednesday.