Note of the Editor: This interview comes into a brand-new project by Oliver*| *AllThingsCrowdfunding which aims to make a journey around the world to find out how crowdfunding is evolving according to market players’ views.
This of course would include equity crowdfunding as platforms owners argue that equity crowdfunding and ICOs will overtake traditional venture capital in the next future.
In that piece, the author asked readers if ICOs will become mainstream concluding that it is important not to rush into it as to give the whole ecosystem the opportunity to thrive.
Fair enough if said by the CEO of a leading European equity crowdfunding platform which claims a 90% campaign success rate.
“I think blockchain is something we should adapt as soon as possible.”
Capital Cell is Europe’s first equity crowdfunding platform specialized in life sciences. It has been founded by Daniel Oliver, who also stays as the CEO of the company, a biologist concerned about inability of scientists to raise money when pitching investors.
“I had to reckon that one of the reasons was the lack of knowledge among investors. Today, we help scientist to explain complex projects to investors.”
Oliver*: You thought of opening up a different spectrum of possibilities for scientists to raise capital, didn’t you?
Daniel Oliver: Yes, even though we tell them crowdfunding isn’t easier than any other forms of capital raising. However, having expert’s knowledge on board will benefit us, entrepreneurs and investors as well. That means that we can go deeper with a specialist’s eye to figure out if a project could work or not.
O*: What are the advantages of using crowdfunding?
D: First, it is not all about the money. What you get through crowdfunding is a gang of fans, of ambassadors, which is fantastic.
Second, crowdfunding gives you the possibility of keeping your company independent. And this is of absolute value for biotech ventures.
D: They will usually make huge amounts money when they sell the company. If you consider that developing a drug is capital intensive, you should delay talking to VCs as much as possible and increase the value of your company as much as you can.
O*: From your perspective, what are the main trends you see in the market?
D: Business wise, my feeling is that Europe is doomed.
O*: What do you mean?
D: We are based in Barcelona. You just need one-and-half-hour flight to get to the UK, but it is a totally different planet.
D: Mostly because markets are not integrated. So the effect is that in Spain, for instance, Spanish investors invest in Spanish companies and that British investors mainly invest in British companies in the UK.
There are several differences between the two countries including currencies, entrepreneurial and investment traditions and so forth and so on. So even though there is a common operational framework like passporting, I reckon that differences still define markets whilst fuelling some sort of protectionism despite sectors like biotech are global.
Nevertheless, something is changing as regulators of the two countries have an established dialogue and trust each other.
Industry wise, every time I take part into a conference I have that feeling that everything is facing out. Take for example blockchain.
“Crowdfunding is already an old form to raise capital. Today we use the web which is the glorified version of the telephone. In the future? Technology is offering interesting opportunities of disintermediation.”
O*: What’s the role blockchain will play in the future?
D: Despite crowdfunding is a very old concept, we still have to face that sort of misconception according to which 80% of Spanish people don’t trust both online investments and payments. To me, blockchain will help to sort this out by helping us in joining the dots between these gaps.
D: I think by bringing into the system the transparency required to give a boost to the whole industry so that the old grey-haired investor will have the ultimate technologic tool knocking on the door. My feeling is that this time, this new tool may be powerful enough to re-shape the whole thing.
O*: What will be the bottom line?
D: You will still need people starting great businesses as well as people interested in devoting part of their capital to support them. It is about the distribution of capital ownership.
O*: What are your main concerns?
D: I am a bit disappointed the way equity crowdfunding has been so tightly controlled, preventing it from achieving its full potential, but I am really interested in seeing what blockchain can do.
O*: To what extent?
D: Because it seems to give people extra tools to arrange things in a disintermediated way.
O*: Any plans in this respect?
D: Capital Cell is considering an ICO before the summer. I think this is something we should adapt as soon as possible.