Crowd-funding is now one of the most popular ways of raising money for start-ups or businesses that want to expand. It is defined as a form of small investments from a large group of people in exchange for a share in business. Rapid advancement of the Internet technologies made this process easy to organize and oversee, but it also led to many websites with questionable reliability appearing at an unimaginable pace. The reason why not every website should be trusted is because some of them publish just about any project they get from soon-to-be entrepreneurs without due risks and feasibility analysis. This, in its turn, means that most of the projects fail to attract money. Or even if they don’t fail, investors are not able to recover their money or make a profit.
To help entrepreneurs navigate the sea of companies offering crowd-funding services, we came up with the following list of websites that we think is safe to trust. Most of these websites have been around for quite a long time, taking into account the newness of crowd-funding itself, and had a great number of funded businesses that later proved to be successful. In some cases, though, we trust the websites because of the checks it performs before taking on projects and opening them up for investments.
Crowdcube is one of the oldest companies offering crowd-funding services. It started in 2010 and since then 95 businesses were financed for a total of more than £18 million. Crowdcube won’t charge entrepreneurs nor investors till the proposal succeeds. Crowdcube says it works with sufficiently sophisticated investors who understand the risks associated with funding a business and can make decisions themselves. This infographic shows all the key stats that sum up the years Crowcube has been in business.
SyndicateRoom is a new player and it has a different business model. Here entrepreneurs are looking for some money to top up the funding already raised form a number of bigger private investors. Joining for entrepreneurs is free, investors will need to commit a minimum of £500 to join. Entrepreneurs have to email short description of their business proposal and the amount committed by lead investors to get aboard. Till this date, SyndicateRoom has 7 companies funded for a total of £950,000. None of the proposals submitted failed to attract the amount sought.
InvestingZone is one of the recent additions to the UK’s crowd-funding services industry. It was started in 2013. To date, 9 companies got funding and none was withdrawn due to insufficient interest from the investors. The total amount of the investments is £966,000. InvestingZone says they are interested in seeing small businesses grow through crowd-funding and offers investing options through a number of mobile and PC platforms.
WeFund deserves a separate mention because of its unique mission to support art. The company helps some of the creative minds in the UK to find a paying audience and overcome financial hurdles. The key message WeFund communicates is that it’s no longer needed to be a billionaire to support the artistic life of the country - everyone with a pound can make an important contribution. Entrepreneurs have to submit a short video description of their artistic project to get approved by WeFund. No fees are charged till the project receives required funding. After it does, a 5 per cent fee is charged from the project creator.
Nesta is a company to consider if whatever you are doing is innovative in some way or another. The company’s aim is to support innovation through investments and grants, or research needed to refine ideas and make them better for a real-world business. Nesta believes today is the best day to takes risks, experiment, and innovate and it says it will help bring the best ideas to life.
This account of crowd-funding websites is not complete. There are many other companies you may want to consider. If you choose a website not covered in this article, be sure to check how long the company has been active and what is the ratio of funded projects to failed ones. As an entrepreneur, you will be expected to pay a set fee after your project receives requested funding. The industry-wide standard is 5 per cent. Don’t overpay.