This article will list and discuss the best Crowdfunding platforms in Europe. Perhaps the most famous case of Crowdfunding and Crowdsourcing to date is Barack Obama’s $750 million presidential campaign, completely raised through small donors in 2008. Following a recent boom in Crowdfunding platforms available online, a few platforms have now risen to the forefront of the industry, evolving the types and ways in which we can experience Crowdfunding; whilst other platforms failed to exist in light of heightened competition. Europe now being a regional hub for growing start-ups, this article will discuss the best Crowdfunding platforms available within Europe. These are naturally considered through the objective lenses of activity, total money raised, and the percentage of successful initiatives that these platforms have produced.
Access to traditional credit has been lacking, and thus Crowdfunding represents a new hope towards financing start-ups and innovative projects, by allowing one to fund projects and companies through smaller donations from the wider public.
Being the “lifeline” of SMEs and entrepreneurs of Europe, Crowdfunding platforms stand as the way to gain credit for ideas and projects by encouraging the participation and interaction of various actors in the professional and business environment. When the World Bank announced that Crowdfunding would value up to $90 billion between 2020 and 2025, and Forbes announced that Crowdfunding would value $90 billion by 2017, surpassing the trend of Venture Capital all together; the world (investors, start-ups, and regulators alike) realized it was time to join the trend.
The types of interaction one can experience between participants in these platforms vary immensely, allowing start-ups and investors to find which solutions fit their needs and desires the best: reward based Crowdfunding, credit based Crowdfunding, Crowdfunding through capital and Crowdfunding through donations.
These are often classed between two more common classifications: Financial Crowdfunding (focused on equity based Crowdfunding and Crowdlending) and Non-Financial Crowdfunding (focused on Crowdfunding through rewards and donations, also known as Crowdgiving).
Aside from our article on insights into the best Crowdfunding platforms available in Spain and in the United Kingdom, this list (organized in alphabetical order) will help understand the advantages and options available of the best platforms in Europe, particularly in light of the plethora of supplementary services and features platforms now offer to maintain a competitive edge.
Equity Based Crowdfunding
Anaxago: Based in France, this platform holds a large membership community of over 67,000 individuals and promotes entrepreneurship, collective intelligence and transparency. Interestingly, this firm only allows companies to raise funds for 95 days at a time, allowing investors to be in the know about the investment far earlier. Having fully financed 82 firms thus far, Anaxago specializes in finding the funds for high-growth potential businesses. Authorized by the Financial Markets Authority (AMF), Anaxago has already successfully facilitated nearly €47 million worth of investments through their platform.
Bergfürst: Having facilitated over €6.67 million into 9 projects through the website, this German platform allows investors to invest into real estate offerings through fixed interest rates. This allows investors to feel increased security and predictability in their investments, while allowing individuals to bridge the gap between bank (and other) loans and the real estate project through mezzanine capital. Already approved to operate as a bank, Bergfürst has already performed its first IPOs and carries a community of an impressive over 13,500 registered investors.
Companisto: Having invested over €32 million, this German equity based Crowdfunding platform has managed to become a leader within the market, controlling up to 20% of domestic market share. Having successfully funded 64 companies thus far, Companisto differentiates itself by offering various forms of payment, ranging from payments directly through one´s credit card to instant money transfers to bank transfers, allowing investors to be located anywhere in the world.
CONDA: As both an equity based Crowdinvesting platform and a Crowdlending site, this Austrian platform aims to promote local investments alongside regional partners offering expertise. Having successfully funded 58 projects already, through facilitating up to €13.07 millions of investments, CONDA holds a large community of over 6,600 investors. Recognizing not only the financial benefits of investing into start-ups, CONDA promotes direct communication between entrepreneurs and investors, allowing investors to not only feel part of the team, but also contribute to a larger extent.
EOS Venture: This French equity based Crowdfunding operator aims to aid SMEs to develop to help progress the economy. As a FinTech company, EOS Venture has a French Investment Service Provider (PSI) status from the ACPR (French Prudential Supervision and Resolution Authority) of the Bank of France, illustrating their knowledge of financial operations and investment. EOS Venture has special agreements with European banks which allows them to go beyond the €1 million threshold that French regulators place upon them, allowing EOS Venture to have successfully facilitate €6 million worth of investments thus far, with the goal to reach €20 million in 2016.
EquityStartup: This very new Italian equity based Crowdfunding platform offers companies consulting services from legal advice to business plans, and beyond. Furthermore, EquityStartup informs investors of opportunities such as tax benefits that they are eligible for through their investments – they are sure to provide the know-how that many of us may lack.
Happy Capital: This French platform is more than a website to buy shares through – Happy Capital provides one the resources to validate their potential market and offers expert advisory services after the fundraising is complete to make sure the projects truly grow to have a positive impact on the French economy. Their requirement of companies to be registered with the French Trade Registry prior to the fundraising creates an increased sense of security for investors as well, making it unsurprising that Happy Capital has, since 2013, successfully facilitated €4 million worth of investments into successfully funding 20 projects.
Invesdor: This equity and debt based platform from Finland has already €16.32 million invested within its registered start-ups. Having successfully funded 62 projects to date, its success rate stands at 43%. Invesdor´s competitive edge however is seen in its supplementary services, from offering legal advice, to auditing services, to branding development, and much more, highlighting their long-term commitment to helping the companies registered in Invesdor to grow and making it the largest cross-border Nordic equity crowdfunding platform.
Mynbest: As a Spanish equity based Crowdfunding website, Mynbest maintains its competitive edge by providing an auxiliary service in addition to linking investors and companies: Mynbest provides investors with reports so as to remain engaged with their investments and be fully equipped with the information necessary for full security of their investment, which explains why their very first fully invested project reached a value of nearly €100,000.
OpenCircleProject: This platform is developed and managed by Parnasse S.A, a financial and economic advisor accredited by the EN.A alternative market of the Athens Stock Exchange. Focused on funding projects, this Greek equity based Crowdfunding platform provides the tools to value one’s company if they lack the current know-how. Although very new to the industry, OpenCircle Project has already facilitated €300,000 worth of investments into two companies, and are launching a line of larger investments in September this year.
Seedmatch: With almost €29 million successfully invested into start-ups, of which 93 projects had been funded, it remains unsurprising that Seedmatch maintained a 95% success rate. This German company focuses on the potential that young start-ups have to develop the local and global economic environments. With nearly 49,000 members within its network, Seedmatch holds 61% of the German market share alone.
Wiseed: With up to €56 million invested within the company, this French Crowdfunding platform has been able to successfully fund 134 projects thus far by a member base of 72,600. However alternative to the traditional start-ups that one would be funding through other platforms, Wiseed has specialized into real estate, that is, Wiseed allows one to invest into a start-up, a real estate property, or to gain funds through cooperatives. Authorized by the Financial Markets Authority (AMF), Wiseed largely focuses on highly professional projects.
FundedByMe: Offering both equity and debt based solutions, FundedByMe is an especially known platform within the arena of Crowdfunding. With over €24 million successfully invested into 453 start-ups, the Swedish company is home to a 69,200 member community from 178 countries and runs a 50% success rate. FundedByMe especially promotes its focus on cross-border investments, allowing collaboration from all over the world to occur.
MyMicroInvest: Based in Belgium, this company has managed to successfully fund 40 projects and carries over 34,000 members within its community. Furthermore, up to €23 million have been successfully invested through this Crowdlending platform towards 64 projects. To attract more investors, MyMicroInvest offers a unique transaction model where all investments made are bundled together and invested into the given company as one single entity. Not only does this bring more security to the investors, knowing that their money is not allocated if the start-up´s target is not reached, but also shows the platform´s commitment to backing all investments that it represents.
SmartAngels: This debt based Crowdfunding platform (although also offering equity based Crowdfunding services) was founded in France in 2012 with the aim to help investments flow into the growth of start-ups and SMEs. Having a large community of over 25,000 investors, SmartAngels has successfully financed 50 companies with a total amount of €25 million collected. Alternative to traditional Crowdlending services however, SmartAngels allows retail and professional investors to provide financing both through shares and bonds.
Symbid: Although based in the Netherlands, this platform has been strategically spreading throughout Europe. This Crowdfunding platform continues to differentiate itself by bundling a start-up´s financers into one shareholder cooperative, allowing start-ups to communicate more efficiently with only one entity. Whilst Symbid has successfully facilitated a Crowdfunding volume of €13.2 million into 128 campaigns alone, Symbid has also facilitated alternative funding options to SMEs through The Funding Network valuing over €500 million in 2015 and over €900 million in aggregate funding.
Derev: As a reward based Crowdfunding platform, almost 42,000 members actively participate within its platform within which €3 million have been successfully invested. This Italian platform has impressed many from the early stages, having raised over €500,000 within the initial two months of the Crowdfunding platform´s launch in 2013. Furthermore, Derev recorded the highest value of funding for an individual start-up in Italy, reaching over €1.46 million.
Kisskissbankbank: Based in France, this non-financial Crowdfunding platform has successfully facilitated investments totaling almost €55.4 million. In this regard, Kisskissbankbank holds a success rate of 58% of nearly 22,500 funded projects on its platform. Dedicated to fostering start-ups focused on creativity, solidarity and innovation, this platform aims to support companies that go beyond mainstream trends.
Ulule: With over a million members based in 190 countries, this French platform accommodates to international investors. Having successfully invested over €60.7 million into nearly 14,600 projects, it maintains a 68% success rate. However Ulule differentiates itself by offering two different fundraising types: a project manager or start-up may decide to set a fiscal budget target, or they may instead choose to target a specific number of items to pre-sell. Ulule offers even more flexibility by allowing start-ups to raise funds both through donations and through a reward based collaboration.
Wemakeit: Having successfully invested 16.4 million euros already into funding 1,945 projects, this Swiss Crowdfunding platform has held a high success rate of 65%. In order to allow the companies enlisted in their platform to prosper, Wemakeit also offers consulting services throughout the process, thus reaching the monetary target is not the only focus of the platform, but instead a means to reach a more substantial goal.
The several types of platforms allow investors and start-ups (and individuals) to find which strategy works best for them. From equity based Crowdfunding, to Crowdlending, to donations and rewards (granting the non-financial Crowdfunding option); alternative financing and Crowdsourcing strategies continue to develop.
Interestingly, the rise of bonds within Crowdfunding, instead of traditional loans has caught the eye of many. Financial laws and regulations within France have readjusted to this wave, making privately bought bonds (and many more forms of Crowdfunding) more secure and regulated – unlike much of Europe. Within this cross-link between the public and the private markets, one sees that the main difference between a bond in the private market, as supposed to a publicly traded market, is that an investor may not necessarily have the opportunity to gain their money back before the bond matures in several years’ time (as there is no public market to trade these bonds in). Potentially high-risk, these bonds however carry a high interest rate and therefore provide the opportunity for higher returns. One begins to see that choosing a financing scheme may be dependent simply on the convenience of giving and receiving returns; or on the preferences of other actors involved; or on local financial regulations, as well as many more factors. In this light, one should dedicate themselves to finding the optimal balance between each advantage for themselves.
As an investor, one may choose to become involved in a platform where more collaboration and consulting can occur, allowing the financing scheme to feel more inclusive. However for those that are hoping for short-term investments, platforms with short funding rounds allow investors to dip their toes into the world of Crowdfunding a little first. Similarly, a start-up or any individual looking for financing may prefer platforms that either offer supplementary services (to make sure you reach the finish line) or platforms that offer flexible types of financing to accommodate to different funding targets and objectives. Whilst Crowdfunding is not a new innovation, the opportunities these Crowdfunding platforms have brought mark a highly promising new era of collaborative financing.
Having discussed and highlighted the best Crowdfunding platforms available in Europe, one thing remains clear: choosing the best platform for you is really the only obstacle.
Signed by Sara Jokinen