Earlier this year we set out to do something new: to practice what we preach and raise money by using crowdfunding instead of more traditional funding options like venture capital. An altogether thrilling decision with more far-reaching consequences than just getting funding.
Now that the campaign is over, I’ve had a bit of time to take stock and reflect on what it was like to crowdfund more than 365,000 euro in just a few months. This can be summed up in three sections: the good, the bad and what I wish I had known before we started.
Equity crowdfunding is an entirely new way for us to go about getting funding. Instead of meeting with a dozen potential investors who all want the company to go in different directions, we could focus on what we wanted to do. It also allowed us to communicate these ideas in different ways than in business meetings and e-mails: We shot a video, wrote a campaign text, created visual content for social media, hosted events at our offices in Copenhagen and participated in events all across Europe. This was all hard but fun work, and we were rewarded every time we saw the number of investment indications on Funderbeam go up.
Our crowdfunding campaign also gave us the opportunity to introduce a lot of new people to our company - both to our core business of providing business loans and investment opportunities in Denmark as well as to our IT-solution Smallbrooks.
One of the biggest advantages is that we got 138 new ambassadors of Lendino. 138 people from different backgrounds and countries who all have a vested interest in Lendino doing well. They can spread the word on Lendino as an investment platform, a loan provider and an IT company, and we might be able to use their knowledge and network to break into new markets.
Equity crowdfunding was definitely the right decision for us at this point in our journey. However, we would not have succeeded with our campaign if we didn’t already have an extensive network of business and family relations, lenders, borrowers, ambassadors etc. About 80% of our new capital came from people within our own network who already knew about Lendino. Had we started a campaign like this five years ago when we had barely started, we probably would not have been able to raise as large an amount as we did.
This is the biggest disadvantage of equity crowdfunding in 2019: It’s still relatively unknown. We were only the second Danish campaign on Funderbeam and the prospect of investing in a Danish company via an Estonian platform might seem too risky for a lot of people. We hope to set an example to other Danish companies and investors and help make equity crowdfunding a more common way of raising or investing money.
What I wish I had known
We already knew that an equity crowdfunding campaign is a marathon lasting several months. Preparing the campaign was the equivalent of training: writing the campaign text, shooting a video, getting all of the legal aspects in order and preparing our communication plan. Additionally we recruited cheerleaders and co-runners by asking our network if they would be willing to invest in Lendino - the response was overwhelming.
The actual race started the moment the campaign was launched, and we expected to reach the finish line on the last day of funding. We therefore saved our strength for a bit of a sprint in the last few days of funding: we contacted as many potential investors as possible and kept the momentum going on several different channels of communication. On the 30th of March the campaign was over and we ran across the finish line - or so we thought.
The aftermath of the campaign turned out to be more complex and hand-held than we’d expected. Investment proposals were calculated and sent out shortly after our campaign ended - but it turned out that our communicative work wasn’t done yet. A lot of our investors had follow-up questions, wanted to change their investments or backed out entirely. In the middle of it all we also had to make changes to our articles of association before the investment deal could go through. Only after all of this was handled - which took more than a month - we finally reached the finish line and could go back to simply running our company. It would have been nice to have a better overview of this process at the beginning of the campaign.
As equity crowdfunding and Funderbeam is still new I’m convinced that even these small hiccups will soon be fixed, making it even easier both to invest in and raise equity for companies such as ourselves. To us this campaign feels almost like a trial run at going public, and it’s exciting to follow our share price on Funderbeam’s market. I’m looking forward to follow Funderbeam and the sector in the future!