We’re super excited to announce that after seven months of hard work (and three years of watching / providing submissions) we’re licenced to provide equity crowdfunding in Australia.
What does that mean? Well, it means that I will be gone a bit longer than planned… Sorry friends and fam!
How did it happen?
When we raised our second equity crowdfunded round three years ago we said it would be for either exploring the Australian market or launching our lending product.
In the end, we did both. We visited Australia in September 2015, and launched Pledge.Me Lend. In Australia, we found that the market wasn’t ready yet. The regulations were being created, but word on the street was that it would take a while (even though one government document promised changes in the year). The style of regulation felt a lot more American than the British style we were used to in New Zealand.
In April 2017 the legislation finally passed to allow equity crowdfunding in Australia. Not a perfect piece of legislation, but when we reviewed it (and provided some submissions on it) we decided it might be workable.
At the same time as the change was made, Laura Reitel in Wellington told us about a programme that the Queensland government was running called Hot DesQ. Free cash for start ups to move to Queensland, and mentor and inspire the local ecosystem. Since that seemed like they were basically paying me to be me, speaking at every event under the sun normally, we put in an application.
We were lucky to be selected, and announced in September 2017 that we were “Exporting our Expertise” and moving across the ditch. I had never been to Queensland before, and I definitely now have a new definition of heat.
From there, we hit the ground running. In the first month we set up our company, applied for our equity crowdfunding licence, did a road trip around the region, and I did a side trip to Europe to speak for a subsidiary of the UN. I wrote about it in this “Busy in Brissie” post. From there, we announced and ran an Unconference for 100 local founders and doers, and kept building our network of inspiring people.
We hit a speed bump in January when the first round of equity crowdfunding licences were announced, and were weren’t in the mix. It felt like our experience as the first (equal) licenced equity crowdfunding platform in New Zealand wasn’t valued. But in the end, we got there. We built out our team, and last week we received our equity crowdfunding licence here in Australia.
What’s the plan?
From here, we’re excited to take the lessons we’ve learned helping over 1,200 campaigners in New Zealand and help some Australian founders raise the money they need to scale. Not the founders that would have found it easy to raise money no matter what, but the founders that see the benefit in going to their crowd and might previously have been excluded from the financial markets.
Did you know that only 3% of venture capital goes to female-led businesses? So far, with our 30 successful equity and lending campaigns, 43% of them have female CEOs. Including us. Of the crowdfunding platforms licenced in Australia (and New Zealand) to date, we believe we’re the only ones with a woman at the helm. And while that shouldn’t be noteworthy, it is.
There’s so much research that shows, investing in diverse founders has better results. And that raising capital is a lot harder if you don’t fit in the typical mould. That mould might be based on what you look like, or your gender, but it can also be based on the types of company you’re raising money for. Like social enterprises. Or regional development. Raising money when your focus is dually growing your revenue and growing your impact isn’t always simple to explain to traditional investors (I know…. I’ve tried).
How will it work?
We’re talking to potential campaigners already, with plans to launch our first equity crowdfunding campaign here in Australia in June.
If you’re interested in learning more about running a campaign, send us a note. We’ve already started taking founders through our capital raising prep programme, CrowdfundingU.
But, what about New Zealand?
New Zealand has grown significantly in the last year, with the strong support of our team there. We’ve had some amazing campaigns across the line, like Little Bird and Parrotdog and now Hikurangi Enterprises’ Waiapu Investment. New Zealand has been busier in the last seven months than it has ever been. I’ll be back and forth regularly (and still spending a good bit of my time helping campaigns back home over emails and Zoom), but New Zealand is in safe hands with our team and our board.
And to answer the question on some of your lips: are you staying in Queensland?
Yes! Because it’s so freaking friendly. We were lucky to be part of the HotDesQ programme, with a soft landing (and some cash) to get set up in Brisbane. I’ve learned so much in the last seven months here, and been welcomed by such a wide range of founders and supporters. It really is all about the crowd.
It’s great to be in a smaller big city too, where there aren’t a bunch of crowdfunding platforms setting up. It’s also nice to be able and supported to bring some of my favourite bits of home here (like, Unconferences….).
I’d like to say a huge thank you to my team and board for supporting in this move, and our shareholders and supporters for believing in us, and to HotDesQ for supporting us. It was a squigglyier line than planned to get licenced, but isn’t it always. I truly believe we’re well poised now to help Australians and Kiwis fund the things they care about.