This is part 2 of equity crowdfunding retrospective 2015. Read part 1 here.
There are also countries where legislation already allows startup companies to issue securities. That is the case in Brazil, for example, where CVM (Comissão de Valores Mobiliários, the equivalent to SEC) had rules considering the issuing and advertising of securities from the beginning of the century. Urbe.me took advantage of that and started their first campaign to build an office complex in Sao Paulo. While they have run into some problems—having been given a specific order to take their campaign down for a couple of days—they have been able to run their portal.
In the US, during the year 2015, we have seen another state pass a local equity crowdfunding law that allows higher limits than JOBS Act Title III — that is New Jersey, where non-accredited investors can put up to $5,000 each in startups, and the companies, by their turn, can raise up to $1 million from those individuals, provided the company and portal are New Jersey-based.
While initiatives to pass equity crowdfunding are being enacted or are under study in many countries, the fact is, the US and China are the leaders in this market. We don’t have final numbers yet, but the Chinese market is expected to raise more than $1 billion in 2015 alone, according to a study by Report Linker. In the US, the industry should raise about $2.6 billion, up from $1.1 billion in 2014.
In the UK, equity crowdfunding numbers are still somewhat timid, but a study conducted by Altfi reveals the true market potential — they tracked every equity campaign since 2011 and, by 2015, already had good data on the success rate of those companies. The numbers reveal that only 20 percent of the companies have actually failed and are not in business anymore, while no less than 22 percent were able to go for another raising round. On average, the return rates were of 33.79 percent to investors, with 72 percent of the companies actually making a profit to those who believed them.
A specialization is clearly being defined on the industry; real estate and startup crowdfunding are being developed by distinct portals to distinct audiences, as the rates of return and risk are very different among the modes. That is not a surprise, as real estate investment is normally a much lower risk than startup ones, where the investor can lose all or most of his money. In 2015, we saw some interesting real estate crowdfunding success stories, such as EquityEats and Fundrise.com.
Meanwhile, traditional crowdfunding is still the jewel of the crown in the whole industry. Many startups still find it easier to announce an innovative product in the traditional platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe, without running the risks or having the hassles of equity crowdfunding.
In 2015, Kickstarter alone was able to pass the $2 billion threshold of raised funds, and we saw a lot of news of very successful and promising campaigns, such as the launching of Kung Fury, a crowdfunded movie, and Bloodstained, a game by famous Koji Igarashi, which managed to raise several times its goal.
What we have seen this year is that traditional rewards-based crowdfunding will likely be the major crowdfunding mode for startups that design products for the end consumer. Equity crowdfunding was more successful when oriented to B2B businesses, non-innovative businesses, real estate investments, and other types of companies that do not rely on generating a buzz to be successfully financed.
The year 2016 is coming, and we will see if those trends are confirmed, or whether the market takes another direction.