Crowdfunding platforms are thriving. An alternative finance model for raising funds seems to be popular among entrepreneurs and businesses. But why is that? What is the secret behind it?
We met with Cambridge Judge Business School alumni, who have the first-hand experience in crowdfunding to find out more.
Gonçalo de Vasconcelos (MBA 2010)
Gonçalo de Vasconcelos (MBA 2010) co-founded SyndicateRoom, a crowdfunding platform, with Tom Britton (MBA 2012) in July 2013. Now the team has grown to nine full-time staff, based in the heart of Cambridge. Gonçalo took time out to talk about business and share some insights on crowdfunding.
How did you come up with an idea for a new venture?
I always wanted to have my own business, although I didn’t know what business this would be. I studied civil engineering in Portugal and did my Master’s at Imperial College London. Then I worked in consultancy. But after a while it wasn’t exciting anymore and I was looking for a change.
Why crowdfunding? Why Cambridge?
Tom Britton (MBA 2012)
I heard about crowdfunding when I was studying at Cambridge Judge Business School. I liked the idea that people can invest in innovative companies that do well. There are so many worthy businesses out there that could make a difference, but they’ll never see daylight if they do not get funding.
Cambridge is an ideal place to start a business. MBA studies at Cambridge Judge Business School was a real game-changer. Not only did I get an outstanding professional education, but also met and made connections with some very important business people. My business partner Tom Britton is one of them. I think I just got the entrepreneurial bug during my time at the School and I happened to be in the right place at the right time.
SyndicateRoom – what’s in the name?
Actually the name leads back to Cambridge Judge Business School, where it all started. There is a room in the School building called Syndicate Room, where students can come to study and work together on various projects. We have spent a lot of time in there and that was the room where we got the idea for our business. The name matches exactly what we do – we syndicate investors.
There are many crowdfunding platforms. What is unique about SyndicateRoom?
We are the only investor-led equity crowdfunding in the UK. People can invest as little as £1000 and be sure their money will be in safe hands; business angels will take care of the business as they are putting much larger sums. We give people a chance to build a portfolio by investing small amounts and support companies at the same time. We work with early stage entrepreneurs looking for £250,000 to £5 million.
What is your biggest success so far?
With the combination of luck, timing and good business networks last year we raised 800 per cent of our target. I’m also proud to say that we have closed 86 per cent off all deals up to date.
What are the main challenges?
There are quite a lot of players in the crowdfunding market. Also, it’s quite difficult for people to understand the details of our platform and why we are different. We concentrate on quality rather than quantity deals.
Why do you think crowdfunding is getting more and more popular?
What’s attractive about crowdfunding – is giving the power of decision making back to the people. They can decide what amount and where to invest. Also the idea that you support something good is appealing to many of us. I think the future is bright for crowdfunding platforms.