A long time critic of crowdfunding has, we understand, changed sides, and is launching a consultancy to help SMEs raise capital.
Crowdfund Insider calls Rob Murray Brown a 'gadfly'. We've been reading his blog 'Fantasy Equity Crowdfunding' for some time now, we but have never dared link to any of his posts, because his opinions are forthright, to say the least.
But on New Year's Eve, in the comments at the foot of a polite - but characteristically gutsy - piece entitled Some of 2015's lowest Highlights, Rob Murray Brown declared his New Year's Resolution:
My NY resolution is to try to look at ECf in a more positive light!! Happy NY.
That positive light is now shining from a new website, ECF Solutions, which is - cue fanfare - a crowdfunding consultancy. ECF Solutions promises its prospective clients: "We offer a very lean and efficient service to help you make the most of your chances of raising capital via this new channel."
Our instinct is to grab a big bag of popcorn and watch how this story unfolds. We have to assume that someone who has been so rude and critical of industry practice isn't just walking over to the dark side of the street.
We also see some shiny nuggets in the mire. Mr Murray Brown's change of career comes at a time when the empirical evidence suggests that crowdfunded startups have a higher survival rate than startups in general, and results are improving over time. His new firm's description of its services emphasises a no nonsense, no time wasting approach, and planning for realistic exits. We like the sound of that. The site also states that its fees will be small, and contingent on the client getting a successful outcome.
"Advancing claims about a business that simply can never come true is plain stupid – it doesn’t help anyone in the long run. As the main platforms seem unable or unwilling to help prevent this and the investors are still being dazzled by the promise of the next FB, its up to some sensible well seasoned business heads to sort out the mess.” (Rob Murray Brown, 'A New Hope For ECF'. )
We'll give the last word to JD Alois, of Crowdfund Insider.
"This could be a case of, 'if you can’t beat ’em join ’em'. It will be interesting to see how ECf Solutions evolves."