Friday, April 26, 2013
The digital currency is rising in popularity among traders in the rebellious Kreuzberg area of Germany's capital Kate Connolly and Guy Grandjean in Berlin guardian.co.uk, Friday 26 April 2013 11.08 BST In Kreuzberg, Berlin, Bitcoin has expanded off the internet into the local economy. Link to video: Bitcoin: world's fastest growing currency migrates off the internet Nadim Chebli remembers well the first of his customers who decided to pay for the records they bought with virtual currency rather than cash or credit cards. "I'd only just agreed to accept Bitcoins," said the 36-year-old owner of the Long Player record shop, "and the first sales I made in it came pretty quickly, from a guy about my age who bought Tom Waits's The Big Time and a young woman who bought a Beatles compilation from 1967." In the few months since Chebli signed up to the peer-to-peer electronic cash system, he finds it hard to come up with definitive characteristics for the "typical" Bitcoin user who walks off the street into what he describes as his "vinyl living room". "There's no typical age group, or sex, just, well, regular folk," he said. Florentina Martens has had the same experience since opening her Parisian-style cafe Floor's two months ago just a couple of streets away. "There is not a prototype Bitcoin payer," she said. "It's random people. Not only nerds, let me put it that way." Like Chebli, Martens, whose Kersenvlaai (cherry cake) from her native Maastricht is rated as one of the best culinary offerings of the area, says she decided to accept Bitcoins because of the ease, cheapness and transparency of its payment system. "It's an easier way of digital payment than credit cards, which cost me a lot of money as a business and to which I'm forced to sign up for years," she says. These two tradespeople are among around a dozen in the Graefekiez, a cosy neighbourhood established in the 19th century in the southern Berlin district of Kreuzberg, which currently boasts the highest density of businesses accepting the currency in the world. Its growing list of Bitcoin establishments includes a restaurant, a printing shop, a bar and boutique. Community leaders believe that Bitcoin's ethos is embedded in a similar political consciousness to that of Kreuzberg. The payments system, which has been viewed with scepticism elsewhere, arguably fits in well with the district's rebellious, critical, leftwing history, not least its residents' willingness to protest against the rising influence of capitalism, in particular the creeping gentrification that is threatening to envelop the district as Berlin undergoes a property boom. "Kreuzberg is traditionally an area in which people are very politically aware, critical towards existing systems and are constantly discussing and looking for alternatives to them, which makes it the perfect breeding ground for Bitcoin," says Joerg Patzer, a staunch Bitcoin advocate who roams the neighbourhood with a missionary zeal in search of new recruits. Patzer, 47, who typically trades by night and sleeps by day, is also the owner of Room 77, a popular bar in the Graefekiez, which has become a magnet for Bitcoin enthusiasts in the German capital. On a recent Tuesday evening with a jazz trio providing the music, law student Jeff Gallas, the owner of a few thousand euros' worth of Bitcoins, was tucking into a beefburger. "Bitcoin is the first global money we have," he says, when asked to explain his enthusiasm for a currency that has been criticised for the ease with which drug and child porn dealers can use it and which many economists have called nothing but a craze, comparable to the Dutch tulip bubble of the 1600s. "It could be from a science fiction novel, but the fact is we have it in the here and the now," Gallas said, listing the items he has bought with Bitcoins, including "honey from Thailand, historic flags from the United States, gold and silver, concert tickets", and of course, his beer and burgers. He taps the amount he owes Room 77 into the virtual Bitcoin wallet on his Android phone and, aligning it with a code on the bar's device, presses a button to process the payment. A theatrical "kerching" sound follows and Gallas is grinning from ear to ear. "It could hardly be easier," he insisted. Heidi Leyton, a British tour guide who takes business people around Berlin, said she was first drawn to the currency when two Spanish friends demonstrated their trust in it by deciding to use their entire inheritance to purchase Bitcoins. "They were very worried about the way the economy was going in Spain and so decided to invest their €30,000 inheritance in Bitcoins. I was really shocked, thinking what a gamble it was," Leyton admits. "But that was about three and a half years ago and their 30,000 has grown to 600,000, so they did very well. On the back of her friends' experience, she too decided to buy into the currency and to accept fees for her tours in Bitcoins. "Looking at the way the economy is going and the way we're dealing with it, particularly after what's just happened in Cyprus, I don't really trust having my money in the banks," she said. As with any currency, trust and the willingness of users to accept it is vital to Bitcoin's success or failure, and that mechanism is arguably clearer to see in a small community like the Graefekiez than anywhere else. Patzer buys the beer for Room 77 from the nearby Rollberg brewery, owned and run by qualified brew and malt meister Wilko Bereit. He pays for the barrels with Bitcoins and, while Bereit says he doesn't fully understand the workings of the payment system, he is willing to trust it. "There is no middle man involved," he said, talking in his hop-scented brewing parlour with its gleaming copper kettles, and casually dropping into the conversation that the German president is among his customers. "It's just a deal between Joerg and me and after I've opened my Easy Wallet, which is easier than sending an email, we have a beer together." Bereit recently followed events as Bitcoin's value halved in less than six hours as a result of recent panic buying. But he remains unperturbed. "As my grandmother would say, it's only money, and it won't kill me if it doesn't work," he said. "The truth is, I really want to believe in it. And I like the fact that Bitcoin scares people in suits, because if this thing were to really take off, it would bankrupt a lot of bankers." Crypto-currency experts meeting Patzer at a recent Bitcoin soiree in the back of Floor's cafe prefer to talk of the recent dip as a correction rather than a crash, which has brought Bitcoin back to a realistic price while it has retained its underlying value. "I would look at these spikes and corrections as the birth pangs of an entirely new system," said Mike Gogulski, a Bitcoin developer. "It represents an opportunity to transform the way we deal with the flows of wealth and human energy."
Posted by Crowd Source Capital at 8:03 AM
Saturday, March 30, 2013
ANDY CHALK | 28 MARCH 2013 8:40 PM
The Aerospace Industries Association is hoping to place a 30-second NASA trailer entitled We Are the Explorers ahead of the premiere of Star Trek Into Darkness in theaters across the U.S. In February 2012, NASA put out We Are the Explorers, a short video that looks at "the tradition of reaching for things just beyond our grasp." Narrated by Peter Cullen, better known to most of us as Optimus Prime, it's inspirational rather than instructional, but it's also a great reminder that the whole wide universe is out there, waiting to be discovered. "We don't know what new discoveries lie ahead," Cullen intones. "But this is the very reason we must go." It's goose-pimply kind of stuff. It's a message the Aerospace Industries Association would like to expose it to a much wider audience, and thus it has whipped up a rather clever plan to crowdfund the purchase of space for a 30-second edit of the video to run in "major movie markets" ahead of the premiere of Star Trek Into Darkness. If the goal of $33,000 is reached, the ad will run in more than 50 theaters for eight weeks; additional funds will be used to buy slots in more theaters across the U.S. But beyond simple fundraising, the Indiegogo campaign is also intended to be a demonstration of support for space exploration programs. "By donating to this campaign, you're making a very powerful statement about the widespread enthusiam that exists for space programs," the campaign states. "A crowdfunding campaign is the best vehicle to deliver this message. By reaching our goal, we not only enable a first-of-its-kind ad campaign, we also demonstrate that countless people support a strong space program that's in development." "Perks" for supporting the campaign are relatively thin and expensive, but unlike videogame crowdfunding, the We Are the Explorers campaign is more about kicking in a few bucks to support a really cool and worthwhile cause. It's going pretty well so far, raising more than half of its $33,000 goal with 34 days left on the clock, and with Wil Wheaton giving it a push on Twitter, I suspect it will have no problem crossing the finish line.
To Learn More Click Here
Posted by Crowd Source Capital at 10:31 AM
Monday, February 4, 2013
6:00AM GMT 04 Feb 2013
6:00AM GMT 04 Feb 2013
Kickstarter, the American website where artists and inventors can ask, Dragons’ Den style, for financial backing from investors, is now doing big business in Britain. Jessica Salter talks to five entrepreneurs who are reaping the rewards from crowd funding.
When Perry Chen, a musician, had to cancel a concert he was arranging for the New Orleans Jazz Festival in 2002 because he couldn’t raise the $20,000 he needed to host it, he started thinking about ways in which he could shoulder the risk with other like-minded fans. The idea simmered until a few years later he met Yancey Strickler, who was the editor-in-chief of eMusic, an online retailer. Together they discussed how it might be possible to bridge the gap between enthusiastic fans and cash-strapped artists, and how people could pay for creative ventures before they were even organised.
Together with a website designer, Charles Adler, they came up withKickstarter, a crowdfunding website where artists, filmmakers, musicians and inventors can pitch their idea on the website, outlining to potential investors exactly how much money they are looking for, and attract bids of anything from $1 to thousands – a sort of Dragons’ Den meets eBay. Kickstarter wasn’t the first crowdfunding platform (Artistshare, for musicians and their fans, launched in 2000), but it is now the biggest and most popular. Projects are vetted by the site – they can’t be for charity, they can’t break the law (no weapons or drugs), and some subjects are not allowed (such as self-help books). There is an element of jeopardy to keep everyone on their toes: if the creator of the project does not reach their funding target in its entirety within a set time limit (the maximum is 60 days), they don’t receive a penny and no money leaves the backers’ bank accounts. But if the creator raises what they asked for – or more – they are allowed to keep it all.
'We knew that we would love to have the opportunity to support artists that we loved,’ Strickler, 34, says on the phone from Kickstarter’s HQ in Brooklyn, 'so why wouldn’t other people? For fans it’s an opportunity to be part of a project and see it come to life. For creators you get a ready-made audience who are invested financially and emotionally in you from the beginning. It felt like the way art should be made, and in the future I think it will be the only way it’s made.’
The creators of each project keep complete intellectual control of their work and do not have to answer to their investors (unlike raising money through business angels and venture capitalists, who typically insist on a large equity stake and a say in how the business is run). Kickstarter investors do not own shares of any project or company – instead they are given incentives to pledge with offers of rewards, ranging from an advance CD of an album they are helping to fund, to film premiere tickets, to having a character in a video game named after them.
Kickstarter is also proving to be a good alternative to traditional grants for art projects (in Britain, the Arts Council will lose 30 per cent of its budget by 2014). But its founders are in it to make money too. In an industry where even companies such as Twitter struggle to turn a profit, Kickstarter takes five per cent commission on all the money raised.
With initial investment from online veterans such as Jack Dorsey, Zach Klein and Caterina Fake (the founders respectively of Twitter, Vimeo and Flickr) the Kickstarter site launched in April 2009 and very quickly became one of the hottest digital businesses in America. It has proved incredibly successful; the site has had more than 83,000 projects listed, over 35,000 of which have been successfully funded. It has taken $461 million in pledges and Kickstarter now employs 52 staff. In financial terms, the most successful Kickstarter project to date is the Pebble watch, a 'smart watch’ that can display data from a user’s mobile phone. Its 26-year-old creator, Eric Migicovsky, had asked for a total investment of $100,000 – a target he reached within two hours of going live on Kickstarter last April. A month later, more than 68,000 people had pledged $10 million (as a reward for pledging $125 backers were promised a Pebble in any colour), and the watch went into production last month.
Kickstarter (initially open only to creators with a US bank account)launched in Britain in October. In the first two weeks more than £2 million was pledged (about £48 per minute) and now there have been 150 successfully funded British projects (about 300 are currently live on the site), raising £4.9 million.
The success rate of projects that reach funding is high (42 per cent), but there are certain things that help would-be entrepreneurs. Niche creations tend to do the best on the site; pitches supported by video do about 20 per cent better than those without; and those that offer rewards to investors who pledge $20 or less succeed more often than those with rewards only for bigger investors. The average pledge is $70.
While Kickstarter encourages creators to stay true to their word, there is no guarantee that successfully funded projects will be completed (each pitch has to spell out specific risks and challenges), and no legal obligation for investor rewards to be fulfilled. According to a study by Ethan Mollick, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, only a quarter of Kickstarter projects delivered their rewards on time. Amanda Palmer, an American musician, attracted scathing criticism after she raised more than $1 million through the site, then wrote in a blog that she had spent the money 'pay[ing] off the lovely debt – stacks of bills and loans and the like – associated with readying all of the stuff that had to happen before I brought this project to Kickstarter’. Kickstarter doesn’t get involved when projects fail and stress that theirs is not a shopping site and investment in new businesses is risky.
But it is compelling too. Strickler has personally backed about 700 projects. 'The more you expose yourself to the site, it becomes hard not to back people. The world is overflowing with great ideas and really passionate people and Kickstarter is a vessel for all of that; it’s a really great frame for people to display their dreams.’ kickstarter.com
BEST OF THE BRITISH KICKSTARTER PROJECTS
Emilie Holmes: Good and Proper Tea
When Kickstarter launched in Britain, one of the first projects its co-founder Yancey Strickler backed was Emilie Holmes’s pitch to convert her 1974 Citroën H van into a travelling tea shop. Her mission, she said, was to upgrade the quality of tea on the go, a revolution similar to the one coffee has undergone in the past decade.
Holmes, 27, who lives in south-west London, had been working for an advertising company four days a week, spending the rest of the week on her business plan and researching teas with the help of Jane Pettigrew, the head of the UK Tea Council (who spent hours with Holmes sampling hundreds of cups of tea). In September Holmes, who said she had been 'boring her friends for years’ with the idea, quit her job, bought the van and was working out how she could raise the £10,000 she needed to convert it. 'I was at my wits’ end, trying to think how I could raise the money, when I saw that Kickstarter was going to launch in the UK,’ she says. 'I knew I had to get my project listed on the first day for the best chance.’
She raised the money in a week: 'I got an email every time someone pledged; I couldn’t do anything that week because I spent hours writing back to everyone. But as well as money I had lots of other kind emails from strangers saying things like, “I’m a mechanic, let me know if you need any help with the van.”’ In total she raised £14,682 from 372 backers. 'Then I had the mammoth task of fulfilling my pledges,’ Holmes says. Almost all of her backers received at least one box of teas, which Holmes had to hand-pack and send off. It took her three weeks and £1,000 on postage and cardboard boxes.
Holmes’s van is now operational and she has started trading with 10 teas on the menu. She has a permanent pitch from Tuesday to Friday in King’s Cross, London, in an area popular with upmarket street vendors, and also works at events such as one for the online retailer Mr Porter during Men’s Fashion Week in London, where her green tea was a hit.
To break even Holmes has to sell 50 cups of tea per day. 'When I met with investors initially and told them my profit margins they wanted me to downgrade the tea quality to maximise profit, which I didn’t want to do. But by using Kickstarter, I have been able to do it my way.’
The product designer Benjamin Redford, 24, was rummaging on a market stall in London in August when he found an old Rollei P35 projector. 'I remember my grandparents showing us slides on their projector,’ he says. He bought it and started taking it apart. 'I’ve done that since I was a kid; my desk is full of objects I’ve dismantled.’
Redford works at Mint Digital, a digital agency based in east London that has recently branched out from creating websites and apps to making physical products, including turning Instagram photographs into fridge magnets. Redford’s idea was to create a tiny projector, with a little wheel of 35mm film containing customers’ Instagram photos. He mocked up a replica using a 3D printer and his bosses let him develop the idea in company time (Mint Digital now owns the copyright; 'I don’t have any interest in the business side of it,’ Redford says). But he needed funding. He had heard of Kickstarter – 'I’m a geek; I’ve been following them for ages’ – and listed his project on November 14, setting a goal of $18,000 to cover manufacturing costs. 'Most investors wouldn’t be interested in such a niche product, but with Kickstarter you distribute the risk,’ Redford says.
Rewards for investors ranged from pre-ordering Projecteo at a discounted price to a limited-edition device in P35 colours – grey, black and orange. Redford hit his target in 20 hours – 'I didn’t expect it to go as nuts as it did. I didn’t sleep all night; I stayed awake watching the money go up and up’ – and by mid-December, 2,789 backers had donated a total of $87,207.
The devices will be posted to customers at the end of February. Two of them have told Redford that they will be using their new Projecteos to propose to their girlfriends. 'I still can’t get my head around it,’ he says. 'I invented something six months ago and in a few weeks it’s going to be in people’s hands.’ getprojecteo.com
Jacqui Ma: Goodordering
Jacqui Ma, 36, had been deliberating about launching a range of bags – retro panniers for bicycles – for three years. She already had her designs and had saved £30,000, but needed a final £12,000. Then a colleague told her about Kickstarter. It wasn’t perfect timing – she was eight months pregnant (her son was born last month) – and she didn’t expect the amount of work she would have to put in. 'I thought I would just make a video explaining what the project was, go on maternity leave [from WGSN, a fashion trend forecasting company] and sit back and see the money come in,’ she says. In reality her pledges came in slowly and Ma, who lives in east London with her partner, had to distribute flyers in her local area with details of her Kickstarter project, badger friends and family, and use social media to beg for funds.
But by December 1, she had 156 Kickstarter backers who had pledged £12,621. Her incentives included the chance to pre-order multiple bags at a discount, and two people who pledged £1,000 were allowed to name a bag design. In total Ma sold about 400 bags through Kickstarter to her backers, which will be shipped out this month, along with another 600 which she hopes to sell via her website and selected retailers.
Ma says that an unexpected advantage of listing her business on Kickstarter was that her backers helped publicise her business. 'People become emotionally invested in the product when they invest money in it – they end up putting it on Facebook and Twitter and spreading the word further.’
As well as the financial aid, Ma says Kickstarter gave her a psychological boost. 'All these people have given me money and so I had to get it done – never mind that I have a newborn baby. It’s brilliant. I’ve been thinking about this for years; now I’m actually doing it.’goodordering.myshopify.com
David Braben Elite: Dangerous
David Braben, 49, built his first video game, Elite, a space trading game, in 1984 with a friend from Cambridge University. Its revolutionary wire-frame 3D graphics and open-ended gameplay (the player’s character travels across several galaxies in no particular order, trading commodities and encountering pirates and bounty hunters) made it unlike anything else on the nascent computer games market – the nearest competitor was Space Invaders, the 1978 two-dimensional fixed shooter game. For the first time players didn’t have 'lives’ and each game could last weeks, rather than minutes. Elite went on to become one of the biggest and most successful games of all time. Braben released two sequels, Frontier: Elite 2 in 1993 and Frontier: First Encounters in 1995, and his company has since produced a number of successful games.
But fans were begging for a new version of Elite, something Braben had been trying to do for years, but he needed money for development – today’s top video games can swallow the budget of a Hollywood film. 'Bank finance in the tech sector is virtually non-existent,’ Braben says. 'I’d been following Kickstarter for a while and when I heard it was launching in the UK I knew I had to try.’
On November 5 he listed the project (Elite: Dangerous) on Kickstarter and set a £1,250,000 goal ('the costs are significantly more than that – but that was what we needed to make it happen’). On January 2, his birthday, he reached his target. Two days later, when funding closed, he had raised £1,578,316 from 25,681 backers, becoming the eighth highest-ever funded project on Kickstarter (17 projects raised more than $1 million last year). The investor rewards ranged from an advance copy of the game (which will be ready in March next year) to naming rights for a planet in the game’s universe (100 backers pledged £750 for the privilege).
Last year Kickstarter investors pledged $83 million to games projects. Braben says the problem of getting funding through a games publisher is that they are risk-averse. The first version of Elite was initially turned down by a large publisher because it was too different from its rivals. 'Publishers stop people being new and innovative. Kickstarter is very democratic. The people who will play the game are the ones who put the money in.’ frontier.co.uk
David Bond:Project Wild Thing
Disturbed by the amount of time his five-year-old daughter was spending looking at a screen rather than playing outside, the filmmaker David Bond, 41, decided to make a documentary, with him acting as 'Marketing Director for Nature’. The film, Project Wild Thing, follows Bond’s attempt to understand why he and his family had become disconnected from the natural world.
He secured funding from the National Trust, Channel 4 and RSPB, but needed a final £30,000, so turned to Kickstarter. 'I’d heard about it because a few filmmakers in the US that I know had used it.’ In total more than $100 million has been pledged to film projects on Kickstarter, including two Oscar-nominated films: Sun Come Up and Incident in New Baghdad; 10 per cent of the films at Sundance are Kickstarter-funded projects.
Rewards for investors ranged from VIP tickets to an executive producer credit for £5,000 (which one person pledged). The money came in at a slow but steady rate until funding was finally achieved in December. 'It was a lot of hard work monitoring the emails and motivating people to pledge and I certainly wouldn’t use it to fund an entire film,’ Bond says. 'But what is absolutely brilliant is that we have 700 people who have dug into their pockets and who are really excited about the film. This network of people being interested is just as important as the money.’ He is now using his supporters to spread the word of the film and to pledge, on his website, to match the time they spend staring at screens with time spent outdoors. 'It’s carrying on from where the film leaves off,’ he says.projectwildthing.com
Ali Ganjavian: Ostrich pillow
A surprise Kickstarter hit has been the 'Ostrich pillow’, a bizarre padded balaclava-looking object that people can pull over their heads to take a nap. It has been backed by 1,846 people who have pledged $195,094, but Ali Ganjavian, who co-owns the studio based in London and Madrid that invented the pillow, admitted they they had no idea it would be this popular; he used Kickstarter to test the water.
'We thought that it would appeal to travellers,’ Ganjavian said, 'but we’ve had lots of emails from people in all different kinds of fields saying that they have found it useful, like a fireman who spends a lot of time waiting on call, or a mother who said that her autistic child likes it because he likes to be closed off from the world.’
The studio also had to design a machine to make the pillows themselves, rather than rely on a manufacturer who couldn’t cope with the greater than expected volume of orders. In three months since the listing finished in October they have sold 5,000 pillows, shipping them to 52 countries. Last month Selfridges started selling the pillows as part of their No Noise campaign. The company are currently in the process of manufacturing more; in the meantime waves of counterfeit Ostrich pillows have sprung up to meet demand.
'We’re designers so we get all kinds of crazy ideas all the time,’ Ganjavian said. 'Kickstarter provides a platform to share those ideas. If enough people around the world think they need it then it will become a reality.’ ostrich-pillow.com
Posted by Crowd Source Capital at 2:33 PM
Friday, January 25, 2013
Photo illustration by Alis Atwel
Written by Max Raskin Bloomberg
From the pyramids to the Empire State Building, the world’s largest structures have typically been financed by the superrich. New York-based Prodigy Network, best known for marketing the Trump SoHo hotel condominium, is now trying a different model: It’s bringing crowdfunding to real estate, soliciting thousands of investors to buy slices of a skyscraper in exchange for a share of rents and property appreciation. “The big difference from traditional real estate is that instead of buying into a fund with a pool of assets, people invest in a single asset,” says Rodrigo Niño, Prodigy’s founder and chief executive officer. “It lets them control the risk.” Prodigy has wanted to try crowdfunding almost since its founding seven years ago but didn’t get a chance until it stumbled on the derecho fiducario, a little-known financial instrument in Niño’s native Colombia that allows individual investment in isolated real estate projects. In Colombia, Prodigy has crowdfunded a building called BD Bacatá that will be the nation’s tallest. About 3,100 investors kicked in $171.8 million (COP308 billion) of the $239 million needed to build the 66-story skyscraper in downtown Bogotá. Investors can also buy and sell shares through a resale program, which functions like a secondary market. Prodigy is currently under contract to buy 84 William Street in downtown Manhattan for $58 million. It plans to invest an additional $32 million. Prodigy says it intends to raise some $26 million in equity from individual investors in 11 countries. FTI Consulting (FCN), based in West Palm Beach, Fla., will ensure that Prodigy complies with the U.S. tax code, as well as anti-money-laundering laws, when accepting money from outside the country. “Instead of buying crappy condos in South Florida, this allows international investors to invest in real markets like New York and in assets that actually make sense,” says Niño, who was raised in Colombia and studied economics in Switzerland. Prodigy says William Street investors will see returns of 15 percent, compared with 21 percent for investors in BD Bacatá. The company’s investors don’t yet include Americans because the U.S. allows only accredited investors—generally those who have assets of more than $1 million—to buy equity in private firms. That will soon change: The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, signed into law last April, allows anyone to invest as much as $2,000 or 5 percent of their income or net worth, whichever is greater, in closely held ventures. The Securities and Exchange Commission is still working on rules for investor safeguards required by the act. SEC guarantees may not be enough for leery U.S. investors, says Dan Fasulo, a managing director at Real Capital Analytics. “It’s hard enough to develop a property down the block,” Fasulo says. “How are you going to do it sitting 3,000 miles away?” Gustavo Gonzalez, a Colombian civil engineer who bought two shares of BD Bacatá in 2010 for 101 million pesos ($57,178), says the returns speak for themselves. Since his purchase, based on an advertisement he read in a local newspaper, the shares have appreciated by about 43 percent. “I like the idea that this is going to be the highest building in the country,” he says. Just as important, “I thought it was going to go up a lot, and that’s what happened.” The bottom line: Once the SEC finalizes its safeguards, ordinary American investors will be able to buy a slice of individual properties.
Posted by Crowd Source Capital at 1:13 AM
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Photo: Daniel Jones
The villagers who clubbed together to save their pub
A campaign to save the pub brought the village of Shottisham together.
Raise a glass to raising funds: the Sorrel Horse was saved from closure by the Shottisham community
By Ian Evans11:29AM GMT 14 Jan 2013
Buying your local and drinking the profits has long been a guffawing topic of conversation in pubs across the country. But when the Sorrel Horse in the Suffolk village of Shottisham was threatened with closure, the locals did just that and bought the 16th-century, picture-postcard hostelry, ensuring its survival for future generations. With an estimated 18 pubs closing every week according to the Campaign for Real Ale, villagers from the surrounding area bucked the national trend by raising the £350,000 asking price to buy the pub and, so far, nearly all the additional £100,000 for taxes, rethatching and other costs. One of the seven directors of the newly created Sorrel Horse Shottisham Ltd, Paul Venediger, said: “It started off as a chat among a few people and then grew from there. I think there was a feeling that we didn’t want to lose the pub because there isn’t much else in the village.” Unlike many threatened pubs, the Sorrel Horse was not owned by a brewer or pub chain but by a local businessman who had wanted to build seven houses on adjoining land and spend some of the profit renovating the timber-framed, Grade II listed building, including adding a conservatory. Fellow director Philip Bouscarle said: “There was a general feeling that it just wouldn’t happen, trade would go down and the pub would close and be converted into housing. We just didn’t want that to happen.” After initial meetings of an unofficial steering group in April and May 2011, they approached the owner and offered £350,000; he accepted by email within 24 hours. “He was very good throughout and is now a shareholder,” said Philip. “Once he accepted, we arranged a public meeting in the pub and sent out leaflets explaining what we wanted to do.” Around 70 people attended the first meeting in a village of around 160 people, some of whom use the properties as second homes. “People were asking about the price and how we’d make money,” said Paul. “We thought it was important that it should be a commercial venture and aim to make a profit because without that incentive, it won’t work. “We thought that without the pub, property values could fall £20,000 to £30,000 because Shottisham would just become a 'drive-through’ village,” he said. An official steering group was voted in to carry on the project. At the end of June 2011, banners were erected in the village, a website established and an off-the-shelf company created with five directors which would buy the pub. It was decided that shares would cost £500 each with a maximum individual investment of 45 shares with the added attraction of Enterprise Investment Scheme tax relief of 30 per cent for investors. By August 2011, the group had enough to buy the pub with 135 investors. In October last year, the pub held its first AGM and in early November published its first set of accounts. To date, 71 per cent of the 200 investors own two or less shares with most coming from local communities, but some as far away as Oman and Australia. Just three shares remain. Single shareholders and regulars Diana and Greville Bickerton, who live in nearby Sutton, were willing investors. “We didn’t buy shares for profit, it was for the sense of community – we didn’t want to lose the pub,” said Diana. Greville added: “There’s nothing here apart from the church and the village hall. “I’ve lived around here for 25 years and I’ve probably met more people in the last year through buying the pub that I’ve done before. “There’s been a real sense of community and people wanting to get involved. There’s a real feeling the pub is theirs and they want to come here and enjoy it.” The board of directors oversee the running of the pub which employs a full-time manager, two chefs and three part-time bar staff. They hold open meetings once every two months and aim to pay dividends, although none have been paid so far. However, buying the pub hadn’t been without contention. “There were some people who were against it and suspicious of our intentions,” said Philip. “Even now we get comments from a minority that we treat it like a personal fiefdom which is frustrating. But I think the majority of people are happy that the pub’s been saved.”
135 Investors put in an average of 2,592.00 pounds each.
Posted by Crowd Source Capital at 10:13 AM
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Written by Kevin Lawton
Now here is the one percent you do want to hear about!
The world is on the precipice of creating a trillion-dollar crowdfunding market. In Australia, the ASSOB has offered a crowdfunding investment portal since 2005. In the UK, equity crowdfunding is already in progress, with investment platforms such as Crowdcube andSeedups. And in the Netherlands, crowdfunding is ramping up with Symbid. The crowdfunding components of the American JOBS Act and the Italian Decreto Crescita are now in the process of finalizing the attendant regulation before securities crowdfunding goes live. Industry associations are popping up everywhere, including in India, Europe, Canada, and the U.S. (CFIRA, CfPA). If you want to get an idea where things are headed, look at the travel list of the leading crowdfunding advisory team, Crowfund Capital Advisors. Recently, they’ve visited Colombia, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Turkey, Sweden, and Dubai, with upcoming visits to Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Sydney. They’ve also secured a relationship with the World Bank to study crowdfunding as a way to unlock innovation in developing countries.
Think about the implications of shifting just one percent of long-term investments to small business via crowdfunding. In American alone, that would create a $300 billion market for crowdfunding (10 times the venture capital invested in all of 2011). Indicating where things are headed, for accredited investors there is IRAvest, the Internet’s first equity-based crowdfunding portal specifically created for self-directed IRAs.
Now imagine the general public investing in crowdfunded small businesses through fund vehicles (as I blogged about in the 2010 three-part series, “The New Face of Venture Capital”) or individual investments. That’s a huge transformation in the small business financing landscape. At the one-percent mark, globally this translates to more than a trillion dollar market. And how big is one percent? The average volatility of the S&P 500 was 0.62 percent from its inception in 1957 through 2010. We now have a material amount of real data in crowdfunding.
As it turns out, the fear, uncertainty, and doubt was hot air. The transparency and social networking dynamics of crowdfunding have been excellent at keeping fraud near zero, to the point where heavy regulation will work against this new economic machine. It’s not just the crowdfunding platform founders and bloggers taking this position. Legendary venture capitalisst Tim Draper (who created MeVC, an early crowdfunding-style investment vehicle that he says was regulated out of existence) said recently at Techonomy Detroit, “I think we should just sunset all the laws and just move forward.” We’ve seen a number of other members of the venture community getting behind the crowdfunding trend, such as Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures speaking at Grind in NY and Manu Kumar of K9 Ventures, who said to the Venture Capital Journal Feb. 2012, “Having companies that have been proven out using crowdfunding will only create better pickings for the venture capital industry to come in and scale those startups.” To get to this point in crowdfunding history has taken some heroic efforts on the part of so many people. But as this space expands, we need even more leaders, from every continent to rise up and voice your support.
Posted by Crowd Source Capital at 11:53 AM
Friday, December 14, 2012
The UK Government has announced plans to lend to small businesses through Funding Circle. Earlier in the year, the Chancellor George Osborne revealed that £100 million would be allocated to non-bank groups to help ease the problems of low SME lending.
It has been revealed that Funding Circle will be one such vehicle and the Government will be working with them to lend £20m. Funding Circle crowdsources loans for small businesses. While bank lending has dropped, Funding Circle has grown rapidly. In two years since launch, thousands of British people have helped to lend £65 million to more than 1,300 businesses. In Novemeber 2012 alone, investors lent £7m to British businesses.
Everyone will be well aware of the problems that small businesses have had in recent years when it come to getting loans from traditional sources such as the banks. So this looks like a clever and innovative way to approach that problem. It is hoped that the scheme will come into action early in 2013.
Funding Circle makes minimum loans of £5k with a maximum loan of £500k. Investors can lend out from as little as £20 and the gross yield is 9.1%. To find out more about Funding Circle’s loan terms, visit their site.
How will it work?
The Government plans to lend £20 million to British businesses through Funding Circle over the next 12- 24 months. This is subject to parliamentary approval and agreement of legal terms and conditions.
The current proposal is that the Government will lend on every loan that comes on to the marketplace and fund up to 20% of each loan at the average rate. The remaining 80% of a loan will be funded by investors in the normal way, so your investment experience will remain exactly the same. Once the auction has closed and the average interest rate has been set for the remaining 80%, the Government will fund 20% at the same interest rate as the rest of the loan.
You can find out more on the Funding Circle site.
To Learn More Click Here
Posted by Crowd Source Capital at 9:13 AM