Following the usual period of hype, as it happens for the majority of tech trends, 2014 seems to be a transitional year for crowdfunding. A year of further growth and consolidation, of course. Several platforms have been created but only a few of them have been able to cut through the noise, actually.
Three models have basically emerged: the reward-based approach and the equity-based one. A third model, hybrid between them, seeing the presence of thematic platforms (in areas such as real estate, music, education, research) is rising.
In the reward-based arena, the two main players are Kickstarter and Indiegogo. On StarTools, we already highlighted an evidence: the Kickstarter crowd is the earliest stage backer of startups in game changing sectors such as virtual reality, gaming, 3d printing, and wearable. Support from the community of tech passionates often validates products and anticipates and triggers the intervention of accredited investors and venture capitalists. The platform also features products in categories such as Design, Fashion, Film and Video, Journalism, Music, Photography, and Publishing. $1.1bn from 6.5m backers have been pledged to Kickstarter via 64.2k projects. Indiegogo recently received a strong injection of venture capital ($40m in January plus an undisclosed round in May) to continue to expand worldwide. Launched in 2008 by Slava Rubin, CEO, the San Francisco based platform allows people to fund any project – creative, entrepreneurial or cause-related. To date, it has hosted more than 200,000 campaigns, with more than 12 million people visiting the site Indiegogo.com each month.
For the equity based model, no ways, laws count and impact on the activity. In the USA, equity crowdfunding is open to accredited investors. In this field, vc-backed AngelList, started as a service to connect startups and investors, recently launched an equity crowdfunding platform which has attracted an enormous number of investors. Other interesting platforms are Fundable and RockthePost. In the UK, rules allow everybody to invest in startups and companies in any sector. Exeter-based Crowdcube, which has been active since 2011, has allowed 126 businesses to raise £27m in total and is now expanding globally. Recently launched Seedrs, which raised £2.58m via its own platform, is growing fast, as well. In Germany, Companisto enables investors to invest in startups. Since the launch in June 2012, over 17,000 “Companists” have invested more than €6m in 31 startups through the platform. Launched in June, 2009, French Wiseed has helped startups raise €8.6m in total. Finally, in Italy, following the recent implementation of a legal framework that opened the opportunity to raise money only to a restricted category of innovative startups, equity crowdfunding is still in its infancy: among other platforms, Unicaseed is taking the lead having recently helped software company Diaman Tech raise €157k from 65 backers. In addition, Musicraiser, a Milan, Italy-based music crowdfunding platform, recently raised €350k in funding. Co-founded by singer Giovanni Gulino and Tania Varuni, it allows artists and industry professionals to raise funds in 21 currencies to finance their album, promotional tour, videoclip, gig, festival, dvd, vinyl record or other. The platform has already helped people raise over €1m.