Your crowd can get you through this crisis: How PledgeMe is supporting businesses during Covid-19

With the world’s economy looking rather grim in the current climate of Covid-19, it’s fair to say that businesses in New Zealand and Australia are doing it tough. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Many businesses are learning to cope within the constraints placed on us, and are finding ways to support their people and each other, as we found out recently when speaking to some of our favourite founders about how they’re dealing with the crisis. Many would also say that it presents an opportunity to shift to a more sustainable economic model

Here at PledgeMe, we prefer to take the glass half-full view. Yes, times are tough. However, we’ve witnessed so many heartening moments in the last few months, through campaigns we’ve run and more widely across our communities. We’ve been supported by our country, our dedicated founder and wonderful team, and our amazing crowd, which includes pledgers, alumni, campaigners, and our personal and professional networks. They are seeing us through this. 

We believe your crowd can get you through this crisis too. Since New Zealand locked down one month ago, we’ve had seven crowdfunding campaigns close successfully and currently have nine campaigns live, including Downlights’ equity crowdfunding campaign (which launched the very day the lockdown was announced). Some campaigners are crowdfunding specifically for Covid-19 reasons, such as Willi’s Kitchen who successfully crowdfunded keeping their doors open during this crisis. These cases show that people can still support their favourite businesses despite the lockdown, especially if they want them to see through these tough times.

Tony Sykes, Emma Sykes and Jennifer Del Bel – three members of the Downlights team, a social enterprise currently running an equity crowdfunding campaign on PledgeMe. 

PledgeMe is a world leader in equity crowdfunding (as the first licensed platform in New Zealand), and part of the first cohort in Australia. We support companies to prepare the plans they need to activate their own crowd of supporters through our crowdfunding services. We want to help you activate your crowd to help you get through Covid-19, to possibly even (dare we say it?) achieve your next stage of growth during this period through equity crowdfunding. Here’s a full comprehensive list of how we’re supporting businesses, communities, and founders during Covid-19.

Equity Crowdfunding Education and Consulting 

Free 1-on-1 sessions with PledgeMe

One of our areas of expertise is crowd activation. Activating your crowd now could help with many different aspects of your business, such as brand awareness, brand ambassadorship, and raising equity. We are offering a free 1-on-1 hour-long session for founders.

Sometimes, you need a session with someone from outside your company to soundboard or brainstorm some ideas to help activate your crowd for financial reasons or more broadly. PledgeMe is here to help with that and offer our expertise in crowd activation in a free 1-on-1 session for founders of small to medium-sized businesses across Australia and New Zealand. In these sessions, we’ll help you determine what support you would like from your crowd, discuss how to get your crowd excited about your possible upcoming campaign, find your unique story, and run through how to validate the interest of your crowd.

Ocho is an example of one company who did one of these sessions before their equity crowdfunding campaign, which attracted over 3,500 investors. PledgeMe helped with their hugely successful ‘Pre-pledge’ programme, which registered over $5 million in ‘pre-pledges’ (expressions of interest to pledge to the campaign when it launched). Read more about their crowdfunding growth story here

Members of the ‘Own the factory’ equity crowdfunding campaign, who participated in a 1-on-1 session with the PledgeMe team before launching.

What is the cost of the PledgeMe’s 1-on-1 sessions?

Nothing! We want to re-emphasise that these sessions are 100% free of cost and obligation. We want to offer support (through our experience and expertise) in the same way we’ve been supported by other businesses. If you’re interested in activating your crowd and gauging their expressions of interest in a potential equity crowdfunding campaign, sign up for your free, 1 hour no-obligation 1-on-1 session here.

CrowdfundingU programme 

Equity crowdfunding can be a lot of work and requires time to prepare. You need to know whether you’re ready for equity crowdfunding, and whether your crowd is ready to invest in you. Our CrowdfundingU programme is a six-session crowdfunding education programme in which we work directly with you and your team to prepare a plan for your campaign. The PledgeMe team has run more than fifty successful equity campaigns since we launched, and have processed almost $50 million in pledges (combined for equity and project crowdfunding campaigns). We use our experience and the insights gained from past campaigners (successful or not) to guide you through preparing the Information Memorandum/offer document (document detailing company forecasts, what the raised money will be spent on, and what you’re offering investors). We provide personalised, company-specific advice on how you can activate your crowd of customers and fans to turn them into shareholders and potentially your best brand ambassadors ever. 

Successful campaigners who have completed the CrowdfundingU programme include Yeastie Boys, Ethique and Angel Food.

What is the cost of the PledgeMe’s Crowdfunding Education programme?

CrowdfundingU costs are $4,000 + GST in New Zealand and $3,000 + GST in Australia for the six 1-on-1 sessions. However, PledgeMe is a registered Service Provider in the Regional Business Partner network, meaning the fee can be subsidised up to 50% with Capability Voucher funding if you’re based in New Zealand. New Zealand businesses can check funding eligibility here.

Hourly Consultancy Service (guidance on equity crowdfunding and financial planning)

PledgeMe is offering hourly consultancy sessions on equity crowdfunding and general financial planning. PledgeMe has worked with many small to medium sized businesses over the years and we are experts in activating and communicating with crowds for investment and financial support. In fact, we have done it several times ourselves through our platform (here’s one example, and here’s another). Thanks to equity crowdfunding, we have investors who are incredible brand ambassadors, because they own a piece of our company. 

What is the cost of the PledgeMe’s financial planning consultancy sessions?

Potentially nothing! Though we will charge an hourly rate of $200/hour, this could be 100% subsidised through Capability Voucher funding through the Regional Business Partner network in New Zealand, meaning it could potentially be a free service for you. Check your eligibility for funding here.

 

Tan Huynh, one of PledgeMe’s crowd activation consultants.

Equity crowdfunding resources

It may be that you’re interested in equity crowdfunding, but want to learn more about it first before getting in touch with the PledgeMe team. Or perhaps you’re considering your fund raising options and equity crowdfunding is just one of them. Well, we have a whole host of free educational resources for you!

Equity crowdfunding webinars

We recently hosted our Introduction to Equity Crowdfunding webinar. We had over fifty registrations for the event and used it to do a deep-dive into what’s needed for an equity campaign, the success stories we’ve seen, and the reasons some campaigns failed (our platform currently has a 68% success rate for investment campaigns compared to 10% in New Zealand for Venture Capital funding). The webinar was interactive, and we used the breakout room feature in Zoom to get the attendees to introduce themselves and their businesses, and to share some thoughts on what an investment crowd can look like. Our upcoming webinars include:

PledgeMe will co-host an equity crowdfunding webinar with Impact Boom on April 29th.

Interested in running a webinar specifically for your company or industry? We can tailor-make this to your needs and your audience. Get in touch if you want to discuss this further with us.

Equity crowdfunding education guides

Our education guides on equity crowdfunding in Australia and New Zealand provide you with lots of useful information about the law surrounding equity crowdfunding, key equity crowdfunding terms, and some tips and tricks on getting started. It also includes bite-sized, easy-to-understand equity crowdfunding success stories we’ve seen on our platform (what the campaigners did well, what they could have improved on, and the ‘silver bullet’ moments which pushed their campaigns over the edge). Examples include:

CDA Health’s Equity crowdfunding case study (click to view).

Other PledgeMe crowdfunding resources

Project crowdfunding campaigns

If you don’t think equity crowdfunding is quite the right fit for your business but you still want to raise money from your crowd, then we suggest a project crowdfunding campaign instead. These are typically far smaller than equity campaigns, though not always (as Pet Refuge’s project crowdfunding campaign showed us). In project campaigns, you offer rewards instead of shares. For example, Barista Cats Cafe is currently offering ‘Cat and Coffee Fixes’ and a range of other rewards in return for pledges to their current crowdfunding campaign.

Free virtual coffee chats about project campaigns

Our Chief People Wrangler, Jess, is hosting free virtual coffee chats for anyone who is currently running a project crowdfunding campaign, or are thinking about it. She will help you brainstorm some ideas for your campaign, help you set it up, and answer any questions you may have. You can book a time with her here.

Facebook Lives 

We love connecting with our crowd, and have found one of the best ways to do that is through Facebook Lives. It’s unedited, live, and real, a way for viewers to ask questions to us or campaigners in the (virtual) flesh and to get an answer directly. This makes it feel more authentic and inclusive of our crowd’s input, which is why we love them so much and do them whenever we get the opportunity. Here’s a guide on how to do a Facebook Live

For founders considering equity crowdfunding, our Facebook Lives are also a great learning resource if you take the time to watch them. In our Lives, we ask founders who are in the midst of their crowdfunding campaigns questions such as:

  • Why did you choose to crowdfund?
  • What are the challenges you’re currently facing?
  • What kinds of rewards will pledgers get if they invest in your campaign?

The audience also asks questions during the Lives, and this may give you a good indication of questions your own crowd could possibly have if you were to launch a crowdfunding campaign. Recent Facebook Lives we’ve hosted include:

A still from our Crowdfunding 101 Facebook Live, hosted by PledgeMe’s founder.

The PledgeMe Blog

PledgeMe’s blog is the place where we put all our thoughts, feelings, success stories, tips and tricks, and aspirations. Topics range from all things crowdfunding to how to work best as a team (as we believe this is one of the most important aspects of a successful crowdfunding campaign and organisation). PledgeMe’s founder also shares some of her experiences as a business leader and how she’s approached certain challenges.

Some of our favourite equity crowdfunding blog resources include:

Some of our favourite blog resources for founders include:

Some of our favourite blog resources about company culture include:

Get in touch with the PledgeMe team

We’ve included a lot of information and resources in this blog. However, it’s possible you still may not know exactly where to begin, or perhaps you have a specific question that you want answered. Get in touch! Feel free to contact us on contact@pledgeme.co.nz if you have a more general question about our platform and education resources. If you’re interested in potentially running an equity crowdfunding campaign to raise investment for your company, contact tan@pledgeme.co.nz in New Zealand and jody@pledgeme.co.nz in Australia. 

We’re here to help businesses get through this tricky time by activating their crowds. Together, we can.

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