News Briefing - Crowdfunding, SME And Alternative Finance

Is your money in the best place? Join the crowd, but follow your instincts.

1. UK - Equity

The equity crowdfunding campaign just run by Mr & Mrs Smith wasn't just an enormous financial success - successfully raising £6.2 million - it was a brilliant piece of brand-building and international publicity, according to Growth Business.

The boutique hotel brand has been trading for fifteen years, and when it went to its customer mailing list and asked if they wanted to buy shares in the business the money flowed in.  The company told Growth Business:

"Crowdfunding seemed more in line with the Mr & Mrs Smith ethos and the way we’ve always run things than other approaches to investment. Our members have been at the heart of our business for 15 years and we’ve always felt comfortable going to them for support."

Read why Growth Business thinks equity  crowdfunding is a smart move for brands like Mr & Mrs Smith.

2. UK - Equity

business Leader magazine talks to Goncalo de Vasconcelos, CEO of Syndicate Room, about his company's distinctive approach to equity crowdfunding.

"We pioneered the investor led equity crowdfunding platform."

How does your business compare to Seedrs and Crowdcube?

"These two equity crowdfunding platforms run what is called company-led platforms, whereby companies set the investment terms and restricted retail investors decide whether to invest under the terms set by the founder or entrepreneur.

"What makes our platform different is that we pioneered the concept of the investor led equity crowdfunding platform, so you invest alongside a professional who negotiates the terms and they will have also put their own money in. Also, we only work with sophisticated investors – private, VCs and institutional investors."

What are the benefits to having Lead Investors?

"Our lead investors are experts and will take on specialist and complex investments in sectors such as Life Science. These investors have expertise in this area and will have a track record that the co-investor can see."

The whole interview with the SyndicateRoom founder is well-worth reading, in Business Leader.

3. UK - Alt-Fi

The Mail reports new hope for savers. Following the UK launch of Goldman Sachs' high interest rate savings account Marcus in the UK, other banks and building societies are finding ways to offer better rates.

"Smaller banks and building societies have scrambled to compete with its 1.5 per cent deal", says the Mail, "pushing easy-access rates up to their highest level for two years."

Read more about Marcus and other high-interest bank accounts in Daily Mail Online and the Daily Telegraph.

4. UK - Alt-Fi

A Northern television personality who made his fortune from minibuses is raising money for his crowdfunded bank for local people. He calls it "Bank of Dave."

"The core vision for Bank of Dave is to be the ethical choice provider of loans and savings products to honest hard-working families, helping every generation to grow their business and to save for the future."

Bank Of Dave is raising £2.5M on Seedrs. Full story in the Lancashire Telegraph

5. International - Startups

Startup Incubator Founders' Factory is launching its first presence in Africa. 

Factory founder Henry Lane-Fox posted on Medium:

"After six months of planning, we are delighted to be bringing the Founders Factory model to a new territory, to build and scale a further 100 technology start-ups. To help us on this journey we have brought on board Standard Bank, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest bank, as our cornerstone investor. With hundreds of physical branches, thousands of ATM’s and a full swathe of business and consumer banking services offered throughout the region, Standard Bank are committed to help us champion local entrepreneurs and to create new jobs & opportunities at scale.

"Of course Africa is not an easy place to operate — there are key infrastructure, logistics and talent challenges — and without detailed local knowledge and experienced operators we would likely fail, as many have before us. To help ensure our success, we are teaming up with Roo Rogers who will become CEO of Founders Factory Africa. Roo, former partner at renowned design agency fuseproject and leader of the US & UK government backed Spring accelerator, brings extensive experience working with entrepreneurs across Africa over the course of the past decade. Together we will be building out a 40 strong-team over the next year as we scale our operations and announce additional corporate investors."

The Next Adventure: Founders Factory Africa – henry lane fox – Medium

6. International - P2P Lending

The Finnish crowdfunding platform Fellow Finance is planning rapidinternational growth, after a successful initial public offering (IPO) in Helsinki. The five-year old company was valued at €55m and its stock is due to start trading today.

Fellow Finance currently operates in Finland, Sweden, Germany and Poland. Its digital lending platform allows investors to invest in both consumer and company loans.

The full details of this story are on Business Live.

7. International - Fintech

A Nigerian startup has raised funding to expand its online accounting software business.  

Accounteer has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Microtraction, an early-stage investment platform, based in Lagos, so that it can expand its customer base of African SMEs.

Accounteer's software is tailored to the specific needs of African business owners and the conditions under which they do business - such as not being able to rely on mains electricity all day and night. . Its mobile companion app allows businesses to continue operations when they are offline.

In the long run, Accounteer hopes to build add-on services  which will  help for African entrepreneurs have easier access to credit.

This story is covered in Disrupt Africa.