Most people do not know my affinity with the crowdfunding market. Back in 2010, when I was coaching hardware start-ups in Asia, I helped launch a few successful crowdfunding campaigns on Indiegogo, the then go-to marketplace for international hardware start-ups to gather their first orders. I quickly learned about the crowdfunding market, and later invested in a now acquired, donation-based, crowdfunding platform.
In 2017, I was the Head of Operations for a Southeast Asian based equity crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending platform, Crowdo, for a period of nine months, and I later went on to be consultant COO for another platform in 2018, FundedHere, based in Singapore.
To say the least, my love affair with crowdfunding has propelled me to raise funds on the international equity crowdfunding platform, Republic, for my own seed fund in Supercharge Lab. Republic has the crowdfunding process down to an art – from onboarding to legal and compliance, to marketing and driving organic outreach. Republic has raised funds for the likes of SpaceX to RobinHood, and has a database of advisors and mentors that take their time out to support start-ups on the platform.
Crowdfunding has evolved from the early days of Kickstarter to include several models, including rewards-based crowdfunding to profit-sharing models. I know some Venture Capital funds who raise their monies on crowdfunding platforms to remarkable success.
The view of crowdfunding is changing. In the early days of rewards-based crowdfunding, backers griped about not receiving their product, or investing in “scams” that never produced anything. These comments created an air of distrust about the entire industry and stifled the growth of related platforms including peer to peer lending outside of America. In particular, Chinese peer to peer lending companies were a burgeoning industry in the early part of the previous decade, but a widespread regulatory crackdown caused over $115 billion in unpaid debt to go south.
Today, over $17.2 billion is generated yearly through crowdfunding in North America alone, with funds raised in 2020 growing 33.7% year on year. With increased regulatory compliance requirements, investors are now more protected than ever, and can participate in investment opportunities that were otherwise only open to the well-heeled accredited investor community.
For the start-ups themselves, it offers respite from the traditional venture capital model, and, with the rise of purpose-built crowdfunding marketing, helps to drive significant marketing outcomes separate from the fundraising objectives of the start-up. Many start-ups that undergo the crowdfunding route have enjoyed growth in client acquisition and in brand awareness, and created new relationships with investors who become clients, affiliates, and partners.
As the leader of Supercharge Lab’s foray into the wild world of cognitive computing, it has been a pleasant ride working with Republic and their amazing team. Our campaign launches this month – June 2021 – and we look forward to engaging with you as investors, clients, and partners on the exciting road ahead.