Crowdfunding is having a twin-track impact on UK investors and entrepreneurs

Few days ago, UK challenger bank Monzo announced they surpassed the crowdfunding target of raising £2.5 million within four hours of opening for pre-registration, media report.

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Monzo’s team. They say: “We started Monzo in February 2015 (…) in August 2016, we were granted a UK banking licence with restrictions by the FCA and PRA and are now working hard to roll out our free current account in 2017.” (Source: monzo.com)

The mobile-only bank had agreed a £19.5 million investment round with Thrive Capital, Passion Capital, and Orange Digital Ventures before announcing plans for a further £2.5 million crowdfunding raise.

Monzo’s CEO and cofounder Tom Blomfield said:

The response to our crowdfunding campaign has been mind-blowing. Our aim at Monzo is to delight our customers so it’s amazing to see how much our community believes in what we’re building. It also shows the enormous appetite for change amongst consumers.

This is just the most recent success of an equity crowdfunding campaign. According to a recent study from the research house Beauhurst, (also embedded below), crowdfunding is in fact emerging as a real alternative at the later stages of growth.

Despite an overall decline in crowdfunding deal numbers, the report points out, crowdfunding at the growth-stage increased 10%, with 80% of these companies crowdfunding for the first time.

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Pedro Madeira is Beauhurst’s Head of Research.

However, Pedro Madeira, Head of Research of Beauhurst, argues that “Even though equity crowdfunding accounts for many of the deals, in terms of sums invested the percentage is very small. It’s something like 3%-4% of the total money invested.”

Nevertheless, to a broader extend this signs a shift in terms of both investments and entrepreneurial culture as it potentially creates a virtuous circle.

 

You raise awareness while you are raising funds. This means there will be more people aware of the lifestyle of being an entrepreneur and this means that becoming an entrepreneur becomes more visible as an option for people to chose from. This will activate an additional circle of people who potentially will look for crowdfunding and new people who will become aware of the possibility of investing. And so on.

This could have a positive impact especially in the areas outside London, as in those areas, he claimed

funding is more dependent on local or devolved government stepping in (a significant portion of that funding ultimately coming from the European Union, currently). VCs are mostly based in London and this means that if a certain company is based more than two hours by train away from London, they will be reluctant to invest in it. However, this also means there could be a scope for crowdfunding to be appealing to the companies which need to raise money in such areas.

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How the future will look like for crowdfunding then?

It’s likely equity crowdfunding platforms will  become pension funds and thus bypass both pension funds and the VCs that are currently vying to manage pension fund money. As I have argued elsewhere, this would see platforms mutating into financial conglomerates with fund management at their heart. However, I don’t think this is going to happen in three or four years. Maybe in a decade. A lot of it will depend on how painless and tax-efficient it will eventually be to place individuals’ unlisted equity investments inside ISAs or using a SIPP (Self-Invested Personal Pension).

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