Is Nordics Becoming The Home Of Crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding became a norm for Nordic entrepreneurs in 2015.

Is crowdfunding here to stay? Photo: Shutterstock

During 2015 crowdfunding became a normal way to kickstart your company for Nordic entrepreneurs and in addition to locals also investors from across the world have invested in Nordic crowdfunding projects.

“There has been a lot of interest, especially in London, in the Nordic tech scene,” Invesdor CEO Lasse Mäkelä said on his 2015 wrap-up message. Interestingly – the majority of top Nordic crowdfunding projects are not tech startups.

The top Nordic crowdfunding firm of 2015 was Swedish NOA Relaxation having raised 1.68 million euros from 314 investors on FundedByMe. NOA is a natural beverage that reduces stress and increases focus, something which could replace energy drinks. The original campaign in early 2015 was so successful the company closed it early, and later in the year it raised additional capital for expansion to the United States and United Kingdom.

Ranked second on the list is Sweden’s Pugz – the most successful Nordic Kickstarter project of 2015 – having raised 1.32 million euros from 10 119 backers for its wireless earbuds which can be charged from the phone.

The two Swedish firms were followed by Finnish companies Cityvarasto and Invesdor, which both raised around 1 million euros. Cityvarasto is a chain offering small storage space, while Invesdor targets to be the cross-border equity crowdfunding platform in Europe.

For the classical reward-based crowdfunding campaigns Nordic tech startups tapped global platforms. Sweden’s Flic is ranked as fourth biggest project on our overall top Nordic list and the most successful on Indiegogo, raising 862 000 euros from a whopping 13 607 clients. Finland’s smart ring maker Oura was also successful on Kickstarter, raising in total 597 000 euros.

Iron Sky movie franchise, at rank 5 on our list, is a crowdfunding phenomenon on its own. Director Timo Vuorensola and his team crowdfunded parts of their movies already in the early 2000s, before any funding platform was born, and are now using crowdfunding to partly finance full motion pictures. The team’s Star Wreck movie, a Star Trek spoof, was the most seen Finnish movie ever; and their previous film, the first Iron Sky movie, was the most expensive Finnish film ever made. For Iron Sky 2 the team raised 817 000 euros over last year in two campaigns, one on Indiegogo and the other one on Invesdor.

Here are the top 10 crowdfunding campaigns from the region.

An interesting phenomenon is the rise of sports crowdfunding in Finland – with HIFK Football and Vaasan Sport closing their financing rounds last year, and HPK yet to close its already successful round in January. By the nature of their activities and role, sports teams are almost ideal users of crowdfunding. They have a dedicated fanbase ready to take part in the campaign, since many fans would value owning equity of their sports team just like they hold on to the old shirts or scarves of their teams.

This Nordic list, which looks very much like Finnkampen or Suomi-Ruotsi-maaottelu was a classical tie of 10:10, if we do not count Lithuanian brothers Matas and Danielius Jakutis, who raised 926,960 euros for their Italian watch brand Filippo Loreti on Kickstarter in a most funded crowdfunding timepiece project ever. If we count them in, Finland wins 10-9.

While scanning through the other Nordic and Baltic campaigns, the top Latvian project, Displio, raised 145 000 euros, the top Norwegian project vidFlow 133 000 euros and the top Estonian project Bold Knot 118 000 euros on Indiegogo. Worth to mention are also top project on Estonia’s local Fundwise platform, Siidrikoda and Ööbik Cycles, which both raised more than 90 000 euros.

Next Step: Crowdsourcing

Looking into top Nordic crowdfunding projects we scanned through very thoroughly two Nordic platforms: FundedByMe and Invesdor, and also dug deep into Kickstarter and Indiegogo, but at the same time had a look also into smaller platforms.

We might have missed some projects – search functions on the global platforms are far from perfect – so if you notice we have missed a project which should be on the list, please let us know at [email protected]. We will track Nordic crowdfunding success stories more closely going forward so any advice and help is highly appreciated.

We ruled out some projects: Finnish logistics firm Ahola Transport’s 2 million euros IPO is listed on Invesdor top projects, but only 10% of the sum was invested through the crowdfunding platform and the rest through more traditional financial institutions.

We also decided to leave out real estate projects – from platforms like Estonian and Swedish, which would have changed the list considerably. The top performing campaign would be a Swedish property case from Tessin and at around 0.5 million euros mark there would be many Estonian property projects.

(Updated Jan. 4 with the top Lithuanian project and Pugz)