Last night in scenic Trondheim, Norway as part of Technoport, Swedish equity crowdfunding platform FundedByMe put on the second live crowdfunding event we’ve seen come together in the Nordic countries. Trondheim is clearly a student town with a strong engineering program, and the trend up on stage (and the other companies we visited) was a strong hardware hacking mentality, and in commercializing local university NTNU’s research.
Live equity crowdfunding events are such a new concept that Technoport billed the event as the “Crowdfunding Experiment” due to the new nature of the event in Norway. As an attendee it was well put together, with cameras streaming the show online for people watching online, live music, and complete with backstage cameras giving everyone a joking look at the “tension”. It was a good show.
Before digging into Technoport, let’s look where the bar in the Nordics was set before. The previous live crowdfunding event we attended was Helsinki’s Pitch Helsinki event hosted by the city of Helsinki with it’s local equity crowdfunding company, Invesdor, the equity crowdfunding backbone. At that event, 30 individual investments were made amounting to a total of around €43,000. One of the pitching companies, Playmysong, managed to get past their minimum needed for a successful round, raising €25,000.
Technoport’s event was also successful in the sense that NOK 700,000 (€85,000) was put in by 27 investors at the events, successfully getting one company past their minimum funding needed for the round to go through.
The companies up on stage included:
Rom & Tonik – designer acoustic dampening tiles made out of thick wool to be used in office spaces. Nice design, and they say their wool outperforms synthetic dampening material. During the event they raised NOK 45,000 from 5 investors
Dimension10 – a 3D scanner set-up using 130 cameras, designed to take 3D models of people. They somewhat lacked a killer business plan, but 3D scans of people are likely to be in bigger demand as devices like Oculus Rift take a bigger hold. They raised NOK 14,000 from 3 investors
CompareKing – an insurance and credit card comparison site focusing on Norway. They were a late entry and raised nothing during the event.
AssiStep – sort of like bike handelbars which slide along on a handrail. They’re plugging into the aging market that needs assistance going up and down stairs, but without expensive and non-active solutions like an elevator. During the event they raised NOK 290,000 from 20 investors
AssiStep was the crowd winner, and successfully funded itself with a total funding of NOK 550,000 (€67,000) – some of the AssiStep investments were a day or two in advanced but were announced at the event. We’re told this investor from Germany put in a good portion of AssiStep’s funding, and has good knowledge about the market for handrails like this in Sweden and Germany – and wants to work for them pro-bono. “That’s great for AssiStep and something we excited to see more of in the future,” says Aleksander Nyquist Langmyhr, Norway country manager at FundedByMe. .
“Even though the companies haven’t yet gotten all the money they wanted, they got a lot of attention, a lot of feedback, and of course AssiStep had an amazing journey and got really popular. I’m super happy about the event and that more companies are trying equity crowdfunding and seeing all the benefits. As we as a platform mature and develop, the process will get better and better and people in Norway will understand what it means to invest in a startup even better.”
As a general event concept, these live crowdfunding events seem to work in the sense that they’re gathering a decent crowd and getting non-traditional investors talking about putting money into companies. That being said, I hope there’s still a strong focus on due dilligence before investors get burned, potentially screwing up live crowdfuding events, or equity crowdfunding in general.