Venture Bonsai is a new crowdfunding platform that is in private “invitation stage” as the co-founder of the company, Antti Hannula, states. Venture Bonsai enters the increasingly active market of enabling new methods to fund startups. The company is a little over six months old, but the idea originates back to Summer 2009 when Antti Hannula and Marko Lehtimäki talked about the difficulties startups face in getting funded.
I had a chat with Antti Hannula about the story behind the company, what they’re exactly trying to achieve and where they’re headed in the future. The main reasoning behind the existence of the company, according to Hannula, are the challenges in getting funding for your company. Hannula states that the world has changed dramatically regarding funding in the last 10 years and today you need a lot less funding to start a web startup than you did before. Also, there are more wealthy people around that would be able to invest some of their money, but they usually lack the professional approach and need a bit of help in investing.
In essence, Venture Bonsai tries to bring in standardized ways of investing into early stage companies where wealthy individuals could take advantage of the tools they provide. These may include due diligence tools and other standardized ways to compare the possible investment opportunities in the service. This enables in more investment opportunities for investors, but also for entrepreneurs a way to find more potential investors for their company.
Currently Venture Bonsai is in an “invitation only” beta version where they test their features and processes with investors and entrepreneurs. Even though they’re testing the service, it’s already fully functional and companies can apply for funding through it. Hannula states that they will be expanding the service to UK during next spring and gradually to other European markets from there. Naturally, a big part of the go-to-market includes partnering with other players in the market.
I had the possibility to test the service and what it feels like. It feels extremely clean and function focused in what it tries to achieve. Although there weren’t any tutorials available at the time to see how a funding process would go through, it was somewhat self explanatory and I could easily see this working if it is able to attract enough traction. The big question of course is how that traction will be attracted – there are already several competitors out there, perhaps one of the most well known ones, GrowVC, which launched earlier this year.
One of the most interesting and perhaps valuable parts of the service, for entrepreneurs and investors out there is that there are no costs involved in signing up to the service. Venture Bonsai will be making its money from commissions and those will naturally be collected only when an investment activity takes place. Therefore, there really isn’t any reason for companies or investors to not test the service and see what it could do for them.
Disclosure: Kisko Labs and Karri Saarinen, one of our co-founders (and a partner at Kisko Labs), have been working on the concept and design of the website.