Crowdfunding also for medium-sized businesses?
Indeed, the U.S. was and is a pioneer in crowdfunding. For the year 2013, a global market volume of approx. 5 billion is expected, the lion’s share of which will be in the USA. A distinction is now made between donation- or reward-based crowdfunding (also a generic term) and equity-based crowdfunding, which is also called crowdinvesting in German. In the German market, there has so far been a clear focus on crowdinvesting platforms for startups. Here, the first movers Seedmatch, Companisto and Innovestment share a large part of the market segment. However, there is still significant catch-up potential here compared to the global market: in the first three quarters of 2013, a volume of EUR 11.7 million was achieved, which corresponds to an increase of 89% compared to the full year 2012.
The Bergfürst platform, which successfully concluded its first financing project with a volume of EUR 3 million in November, is at a somewhat later stage of the company’s development. Unlike on the other platforms, shares are issued here, which on the one hand enables a secondary market, among other things, but on the other hand also requires a certain minimum size of the companies due to the issuing costs.
While a large number of platforms have entered the startup segment, some of which have already disappeared from the market, the much larger segment of small and medium-sized enterprises has so far been addressed by very few platforms. The only platform that focuses exclusively on SMEs is bankless24.
Overall, a very diverse crowdfunding market is currently developing in Germany and in Europe. In the coming years, we will see consolidation in segments with a strong presence, while in segments that have not been worked on much, such as SME financing, we will see the entry of further platforms and strong market growth. On a European basis, we will see an internationalization of successful platforms. A first example is Fundedbyme, a Swedish platform that is already active in 7 countries and will enter the German market in early 2014. A recent study by the World Bank expects the global market volume for crowdfunding to reach USD 100 billion by 2025.
bankless24 has been on the market since the end of 2012 and has successfully completed four financing projects to date. On our platform, medium-sized companies can issue standardized profit participation rights. Investors — private and institutional — get access to mezzanine investment instruments of small and medium-sized companies on bankless24 — a new asset class that was not individually investable so far.
In terms of the competition that the German-speaking market can tolerate, a clear distinction must be made between segments. I believe that the startup segment has now produced enough platforms in the German market. In other segments, such as real estate, renewables or local platforms, we will have to wait and see how things develop. There will certainly be justification for niche models here in the future. With regard to our segment, the midmarket, I expect a strong increase in the number of providers. The market segment is very large, it is characterized by structural deficits in the financing landscape now and in the future, and it offers investors attractive returns with often more transparent risks than, for example, the market. in the startup segment. A highly attractive market, in other words.
The prospects for bankless24 clearly lie in larger financing volumes. We already have a considerable number of financing requests in the range of EUR 1 — 5 million. This is precisely where there is a structural deficit in the market. In this area, we offer medium-sized companies a financing alternative and interest-oriented investors access to this new asset class.
The crowdfunding market is still a very young market overall. But it is also a market with extremely dynamic growth. The first financing projects in the 7‑digit range have now been completed and there will be numerous other projects of this size in the near future — also and especially in the SME sector. Crowdinvesting closes a structural financing gap for SMEs. In the range up to EUR 5 million, there are hardly any alternatives to traditional bank financing. The capital market, e.g. the SME bond markets, requires sizes from min. EUR 10 million; the same applies to individual equity or mezzanine offerings.
It should not be overlooked that crowdinvesting is able to provide commercial balance sheet equity. This is complementary to banking products and improves the creditworthiness of SMEs.
The time needed for a financing project is about 3 — 4 months. This is a period that can certainly be mapped in the planning of medium-sized companies.