5 triljoen terabyte aan data: wat wordt daarvan gerecycled?

Internet is groot, maar hoe groot? Een lastige vraag volgens Wisegeek maar CEO Eric Schmidt van Google, schat zo’n 5 triljoen terabyte. Die geen 5 miljoen of 5 miljard, maar 5 triljoen keer 1024 gigabyte. Hoe zie dat er online uit?

Als de 2.3 miljard mensen online (of 7,9 nieuwe gebruikers per seconde) die samen 1 miljard Tweets per week, 1 nieuwe blog per seconde, of een triljoen “video playbacks” via YouTube alleen al consumeren of produceren.

Maar wat gebeurd er met die video’s die nooit bekeken worden, of de blogs waar men nooit meer iets mee doet? Zodra iets online staat is het nauwelijks meer te verwijderen. Uiteraard kan de gebruiker de afbeelding, video of andere media offline halen, maar tegen die tijd is het vaak al verspreid of gezien en zwerft het online rond. Stel je eens voor: alle online informatie printen op papier, en dan alles laten liggen wat we niet gebruiken. We zouden al snel verdrinken in onze eigen rommel.

WUWA (While U Were Away) heeft daar nu een inspirerende oplossing voor. Online bieden ze de mogelijkheid om te kijken hoe Google, CNN of Pamela Anders voor je neus worden gerecycled. Alle niet gebruikte data wordt uiteen getrokken waarna er een nieuw basis materiaal van wordt gemaakt; een soort digitale verf die kan worden gebruikt om andere dingen van te maken. Wanneer er een site gekozen wordt maakt de tool een data-analyse en plaatst deze op je canvas. Het kan de zijn dat je het CCN logo ziet, of een heleboel cijfertjes. Ook heb je de mogelijkheid jouw eigen recycle-project uit te printen en aan de muur te hangen. Inmiddels zijn enkele van deze recycle-projecten als tentoonstelling opgehangen waardoor een aparte en leuke collectie wordt gevormd door de informatie die wij online niet gebruiken.

Deze grappige tool transformeert dus niet alleen online afval naar offline kunst, maar laat mensen ook zien dat er naast een CO2-afdruk ook zoiets bestaat als een digitale afdruk waarmee het internet “vervuild” kan raken. Meer weten? Lees het hier.

The Real Difference Between VC and Crowdfunding? Investment Marketing

A few weeks back the value of VC’s for the crowdfunding industry was extensively discussed. Why? Because there are lot of areas where crowdfunding and VC’s can connect. And though traditional funding and alternative funding are not as rigorously separated as many want to believe, there are some inherit differences that characterise crowdfunding as a different form of funding.

Tanya Prive in 2012 wrote an article on Forbes describing crowdfunding as “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.”. Rachel Chalmers refers to as VC money as “fuel for hypergrowth”. In addition, VC’s are in the business of making money for their own investors. Besides the target audience (crowd vs. VC) there doesn’t seem to be clear difference if we look at equity crowdfunding.

In both cases the investor profits financially, entrepreneurs are requested to deliver certain information and investors need to be convinced. Then why worry about the differences? Because, despite being marketed as the go-to Holy Grail of funding, most crowdfunding campaigns fail, only 1 in 10 succeeds on IndieGoGo (according to The Verge’s great article). And not because they were all bad investment opportunities. The problem was marketing.

Timing of the money

A first, very well visualised differenced can be found via Startup Guide: the timing. As you’ll see the type of funding for each phase varies a lot. Of course there’s some overlap but in general, VC’s won’t invest in anything that isn’t creating revenue yet. Crowdfunding on the other hand, has the reputation to be solely for start-ups. In my everyday job as Symbid‘s proposition manager where I coach the entrepreneurs in their funding, I see very different companies.

Small companies that have been in existence for quite a time (between 5-25 years); film funds that have a million dollar budget but want to do some form of inspiring marketing; individual entrepreneurs who still have to write down their business plan; growing start-ups that come back every year for another round and companies want fast forward their growth, using the money for “hypergrowth”.

Because crowdfunding lets the entrepreneur be in control of their own funding trajectory, it can be used any time they feel the time is right. Of course there are some exceptions (if you have no time for it, then don’t do it), but it is the entrepreneur that is fully responsible for the how and when of the funding process.

The reputation and differences in outcome

Crowdfunding was the first aid kit for capital when no one else will give you money. Crowdfunding is a necessary evil, having a VC is a luxury. But is that true?

Chalmers gives five very compelling reasons why you’d want to stay away from Venture Capitalists as an entrepreneur. In summary, a loss of control and narrowing down business development options. The idea that most successful companies raise money via a VC is a urban legend in Entrepreneurship Town; lots of companies succeed without that money.

Again, via crowdfunding the entrepreneur stays in control for the most part. Though a good VC investment can bring lots of good for a company, the company is a product that the VC needs to make money in. While in crowdfunding, there’s a sense of togetherness, sharing and support backed by money. Different ways of funding your company that have different results and different outcomes for you company. And with all the sustainable, social and consumers as “fans”, one might start to think equity crowdfunding is starting to become the epitome of involving your customer.

Self regulated fund raising as a basis for the process & dynamics

Entrepreneurs prepare a campaign when starting with crowdfunding, instead of a single pitch that appeals to all VC’s alike. This also means “one at a time” vs. a full blown marketing crusade: that’s a VC funding quest vs. a crowdfunding process. Whereas getting the right network and subscriptions to VC-networks gets the entrepreneur one appointment at a time, crowdfunding requires to think about ways to reach your audiences and target markets as successfully as possible.

Questions like: what am I selling to whom, who is my target audience, is my own network a seperate group, is there a difference between my customers and investors, where are they, how should I address them, should we send out a press release, and so forth are not at all uncommon during crowdfunding. Whereas a entrepreneur wouldn’t send out a press release about his appointment with a VC, nor would he continuously (almost obsessively) update his network about the progress.

Though the information used as a basis of communication (business plan, financial projections, etc.) is often the same, the ideas and literal message are very different. If an entrepreneur decides to root for VC, their business will be tailored for a specific payback. In crowdfunding, the campaign in itself, a small ROI and the opportunity to make something possible, are the expected outcomes.

Instead convincing the VC’s the entrepreneur engages; instead of saying “your investment makes ABC possible” and entrepreneur has to focus on “together we can..”; instead of talking to a superior or someone the entrepreneur is dependent on, they’ll talk to their peers. Crowdfunding is weeks of continued marketing efforts in order to gather funds bit by bit, while VC money are intermittent,  singular conversations that aim to get a large amount of money at once. These differences highlight the difference between the characterizing dynamics for each type of funding.

Investment marketing

In short, whereas VC’s money is hauled in by “closing the deal” and single selling moments, crowdfunding really is investment marketing. If we look at the dynamics during the campaign I could swap “the company” for any other product and it wouldn’t be called “crowdfunding” but “marketing”. Analysing and setting up various campaigns, the 4 (or 7) P’s are a great way to make entrepreneurs think about what they’re selling and how they’re attracting enough customers, emphasizing the strong marketing dynamics that really separate crowdfunding from VC funding raising.

Developing your brand identity? Think about your favourite band!

Composing a great brand strategy is like composing a great piece of music. Brands and music have a lot in common: tastes vary to a great extend, they underlie or confirm our values, they evoke emotions, they are used to identify ourselves and create frames of reference.

Music is an amazing phenomenon. Tastes vary widely, from classical music to dub-step and from hip-hip to JPop. What they all do is engage their listeners in a way very few other tools can do. People are inspired to pick up an instrument and spend hours practising, pay money to go to concerts and feel betrayed when “their” band quits. Rivalry over music has been immense from both a business perspective and on a personal level (“This is my songs!”). Indicators of ultimate happiness (weddings) and extreme sadness (funerals): music articulate in an intangible way what keeps us busy.

Brands, though often not as engaging, evoke the same responses. Nike or adidas, Mercedes or BMW, KFC or Burger Kind: our choices in brand define our identity (high quality or laid back), our lifestyle (adventurous or stable) and our ambitions (family oriented or global). There’s an entire website dedicated to describing “the Walmart person”, showing to what extend brands help us create a feeling not only products or services, but frames of references which we use for testing our life’s values, understandings, ambitions, and so forth. Orchestra1

The similarities are quite surprising and the lack of a (decent amount) of research between music and branding is remarkable. If anyone has found any interesting views or research on this topic, let me know in the comments. One explanation is the intangible nature of branding (and music). Sure, you have your brand document, cooperation with the marketing department, visual management guidelines and so forth, but if you’re asked to point out the one KPI that’ll make or break your brand, you won’t be able to.

Why not? Because a brand is greater than the sum of its parts. Put differently, synergy drives brand perception. What are the parts that drive this brand perception?

Different departments have different pieces to play

Just like an orchestra (or band, whatever you prefer) performing a single piece of music, it takes different departments to realize a united, fully performing outcome. Strings, brass, percussion, flutes: everything has to be aligned, timed and properly tuned. Every department has a different role to play (literally): base, effect or lead melody. The departments need to understand who’s doing what, and why. In addition, the departments have to have an overview of the full picture, but also have to know when to “tune in” (this analogy is perfect for word play). They have to work together as well as having their internal organisation up and running.

Different departments need different instruments, too. Marketing needs a combination between analytics, creativity and a commercial mindset. The financial department needs secure and reliable accounting software and IT needs an in-house programmer in order to immediately deal with problems when they arise. Once they have the tools, they need the knowledge and right mindset to operate accordingly to one or a few values. Orchestra_hall

If the CEO publicly announces to target a niche market of high-cost/ high-performance customers, the marketing department releases ads featuring a average income family, and the customer support department explicitly mentions that the (reasonable) request of high-performance customer X cannot be personalized due to cost aspects, the company has problem. Playing out of tune ruins the brand image like it ruins a musical performance.

Disruptive in perspectief: kan jouw bedrijf dat wel aan?

Disruptive is cool. Het betekent dat je als bedrijf iets bereikt. Dat je een golfbeweging creëert die dwars door alle industrieën heen jaagt. Een échte verandering die groter is dan jijzelf, maar waarbij jouw bedrijf wel de koploper is. Baas Boven Baas dus. Of niet?

Maar was is ‘disruptive’ nou precies, kunnen we het sturen en is het een doel of een middel? Hele studies kunnen we eraan wijden, ik probeer het in 1.000 woorden.

Waar hebben we het over?

Letter vertaald is disruptive helemaal niet zo positief: “to hinder” of “verstorend” of “ontwrichtend”. Natuurlijk niet de betekenis die wij bedoelen, namelijk een technologie, trend of product die in zulke grote mate intrinsiek anders is, maar tegelijk direct aansluit op behoeften van de gebruikers, dat één of meerdere industrieën zich plotseling en direct moeten gaan aanpassen aan deze technologie, trend of product en haar infrastructuur.

Voorbeeld: crowdfunding. Niet alleen het feit dat grote groepen mensen geld bij elkaar kunnen (techniek, product) brengen maar ook doordat mensen dit willen (behoefte) en doen (actie), vraagt van de bestaande bancaire sector en ondernemerschapsinitiatieven (industrieën), dat wet- en regelgeving, IT structuur en educatie & informatie (infrastructuur) op grote schaal moeten worden herzien.

Product als symptoom

Belangrijk om op te merken is, is dat een nieuwe technologie, trend of product vaak een symptoom is van het achterliggende business model dat veranderd. Ken je het Business Model Canvas? Dit canvas legt het business model vast van een bedrijf of afdeling. Een oefening die je voor iedere disruptive innovatie kunt doen is het oude en het nieuwe BMC invullen. Je ziet dat disruptive innovatie vaak grote verschillen tussen de twee canvassen laat zien, terwijl incrementele innovaties vaak kleinere verschillen laat zien. Probeer het maar met bankleningen en crowdfunding.

Zo komen we bij incrementele innovatie. Incrementele innovatie bestaat uit kleine stappen: verbeteringen aan je service of product die wel echt nieuw zijn maar geen industrieën omver zullen werpen. Veel saaier maar wel beter te managen. Grote corporates hebben deze services, producten en hun achterliggende processen weten te optimaliseren: ‘operational excellence’. Ultra-efficiënt, maar minder ‘break through’.

Dan nu: het spanningsveld.

Het lijkt wel of ondernemersland een beetje in de ban is van ‘disruptive’ en ‘unicorn’ en.. Nou ja, als het maar groot en deeleconomie en high potential is, want je moet als startend bedrijf wel kapitaal kunnen ophalen. Maar disruptive innovatie kan een klein bedrijf ook in de weg staan.

Ten eerste zie je vaak dat binnen erg jonge bedrijven van 1-3 jaar oud, er binnen dezelfde disruptive innovatietrend verschillende producten worden ontwikkeld die een spin-off vormen. Hoeft niet erg te zijn, maar dat is vaak wel een nieuw bedrijf waar jij met je co-founders net €15.000 in hebt gestopt en dat nu voor zichzelf, en dus niet voor jou, geld gaat verdienen. Die €15.000 is geen cash dat je van de ene naar de andere rekening hebt over gesluisd maar dat zit verborgen in lonen, aandelenpercentages, uren, kleine rekeningen die betaald zijn, etc. Moeilijk meetbaar, weinig concreet en nauwelijks te managen. Allemaal niet erg, maar de meeste start-ups leggen onvoldoende vast hoeveel en hoe ze gaan verdienen op die spin-off.

Heb je je eigen innovatie nog binnen je bedrijf? Mooi. Hoe ga je er geld mee verdienen? Want de marges in de ‘onderkant van de nieuwe industrie’ zijn vaak laag. De eerste klanten die je gaat bedienen zijn of erg vermogend (early adoptors die maar een klein percentage uitmaken van de markt) of klanten die in hun traditionele industrie niet meer (mogen) worden geholpen. Denk weer aan financiering: wie kwamen er als eerste bij crowdfunding terecht? Juist, de mensen die van de bank geen lening meer kregen. Hoeft wederom niet slecht te zijn, maar misschien komen die mensen bij jou terecht omdat ze niet kunnen betalen voor de huidige producten en dus moet jij lager zitten met je prijs. Heb je toevallig een veel goedkopere marktklare variant ontwikkeld? Gefeliciteerd, dan kun je nu eerst de ontwikkelkosten terugverdienen, personeel betalen, laat staan door ontwikkelen, bedrijf uitbouwen, break-even draaien.. Kortom: grote innovaties vragen veel geld wat er in jouw nieuwe markt nog niet is.

Dan hebben we het over de marktontwikkeling als geheel: smal-breed-smal. Eén of enkele spelers (‘market initiators’), heel veel spelers (‘marktontwikkelaars’), shake out (‘overload’), oftewel een rits aan faillissementen waarmee het aanbod weer flink wordt uitgedund. Tenzij een van de aller- allereerste spelers op de markt bent, en dat ben je vaak niet ook al denk je zelf van wel, kom je al snel in het brede segment met veel concurrenten die net een tel later waren dan de ‘market initiators’. Hoeft ook niet erg te zijn maar je hebt weinig middelen, bent nog volop in ontwikkelen en moet middelen vrij maken om jezelf staande te houden. Over risico nemen gesproken.

Niemand is eigenaar van de innovatie

Dan de belangrijkste: je bent vaak geen eigenaar van de innovatie. Incrementeel zie je veel in bijvoorbeeld de auto- en farmaceutische industrie. Die ontwikkelaars starten niet vanaf een nieuw nulpunt maar werken vanuit een product dat al bestaat, ontwikkelen een miniem maar extreem verschil ten opzichte van hun vorige of het bestaande product, en claimen de patenten. De innovatie is van hun.

Omdat disruptive vaak een hele industrie omver werpt en/of ontwikkelt, is het lastig te bepalen wie de ‘echte’ eigenaar van de innovatie is. Internet kent geen eigenaar, ‘mobiele telefoons’ kent geen eigenaar, crowdfunding kent geen eigenaar. Natuurlijk kun je via wet- en regelgeving een poging wagen maar die zijn vaak nutteloos om verschillende redenen (wordt bewaard voor een andere keer). Jij bent dus geen eigenaar van ‘de’ innovatie die de bestaansreden vormt van jouw bedrijf.

Kortom: disruptive innovatie is niet goed of slecht, maar laten we in ieder geval niet mikken op het ‘disruptive zijn’ maar laten we mikken op waardecreatie waarmee we geld kunnen verdienen, hoe klein de stappen die we maken ook zijn.

Foto dankzij Pexels.com

Considering crowdfunding? Burst the bubble first!

It could fund your project, boost our companies, create jobs and maybe even save our entire economy: crowdfunding. Advertised as the go-to digital cash machine if the bank doesn’t get you the money you need, crowdfunding is hard on its way to become a major hype. But is it right to push crowdfunding as the answer to your finance, marketing and user experience-needs? No. In fact, each type of crowdfunding has its own specific bubble to burst before you get started.

Donations – and reward-based crowdfunding

If you know what crowdfunding is, you’re sure to know about Kickstarter. Right now, Kickstarter is only available to U.S. and U.K. entrepreneurs but there are lots of alternative platforms where you can subscribe in order to pre-sell your product.

Consumers on the one hand experience the platform as one where they can either be an early adaptor where they are the first to purchase the product, or where they can choose not to receive anything in return for their financial contribution. In the latter case, they are a donator. For the entrepreneur it means that often the product has to be fully ready for production. Entrepreneurs that only have the idea but still need to get from initiation to first (prototype) production, might experience some difficulties as their campaign might not catch flight.

Peer-to-Peer lending

Lending is big. It’s easier for the consumer (lender) to understand. But it’s also suitable for the more experienced crowd that understands the risks of giving away money to a startup that might not be able to pay it back later. Often, the lender is confronted with different cases, each provided with their own “risk status” in order to give them at least some guidance and understanding of the risk they’re taking.

If you are considering peer-to-peer lending, it’s wise to follow what the banks’ policies are. Though they are often accused of being impersonal and “only looking at the numbers”, there is a reason why restrictions like Basel 3 have been developed. Additionally, banks have reason to amortize EUR 50K- loans: en masse. If you are one of the entrepreneurs that understands this but who is being disadvantaged due to regulations, then peer-to-peer lending could work for you. Remember that you’ll have to pay it back with interest, and sometimes you’ll be severally liable for the entire borrowed sum of money. Societyone in Australia is an example of this type of crowdfunding.

Equity-crowdfunding

Equity-crowdfunding is a tough subtype that demands some explanation. It’s not easy for the crowd to understand that valuation is key in this process and how they will benefit from this. Generally, as a shareholder, you’ll receive profit either by an increase of the value of the shares you’ve bought, or because you receive revenues or dividends. A combination of these profits is possible. This is about everything that the majority of the crowd is interested in. However, the larger the investor, the more likely he will inquire about your financial data, you as a person, the strategy you choose, etcetera. One example of a CAPS-accredited equity-crowdfunding platform is Symbid situated in The Netherlands.

For the entrepreneurs it’s good to know that the higher the investment, the higher the amount of involvement generally is. Also, the solvability of a startup is increased as funding via selling your company is considered as equity. In the past, this has also led official lenders such as banks to reconsider loan application. In fact, traditional institutions like banks, subsidy advisors or governmental bureaus, are more often referring entrepreneurs that they cannot help immediately to crowdfunding platforms. The message? If you can make it with crowdfunding, you can make it anywhere.

3 ways incubators and accelerators will help you kick off your business!

Founder of a startup or thinking about starting your own company? Then you’ll need all the help you can get, including that of accelerators and incubators! But what’s the difference and why should you want their help?

Accelerators vs. Incubator

Crudely put, accelerators are short term, incubators are long term. The latter are often part of a larger company or institution, such as a university. In the last five years the call for universities to valorise (make useful) the knowledge they produce has grown, and incubators are one way of doing that. In combination with an increased number of people that want to start their own company,the need for expertise about entrepreneurship has grown, too. Accelerators focus on speed and getting things done. Intensive coaching, clear deadlines, resources and a cut out, step-by-step program are what characterise these initiatives. Incubators are great for in-depth knowledge and testing.

Dutch entrepreneurs can check Gerben Derk’s article (“Startup incubators en accelerators wie zijn ze en wat moet je ermee?”) for more information about the differences.

So why participate in one of these programs? To quickly and efficiently counter the pitfalls that all entrepreneurs will run into at some point during their exciting startup development: lack of time, lack of results and making unnecessary mistakes.

Lack of Time

True, signing up for a program will not literally create more time, but it does create the focus necessary to do more in less time. Seeing that most programs require you to sign up with not only a clear business plan but also a clear approach of what you’re going to accomplish the next months, it’s obivous that even only applying might get you started. Additionally, you don’t need to waste time on finding a cheap but sufficiently equipped office that’s also easy to reach, setting up your internet connection or arranging a coffee machine. Somewhere. Everything’s there and available at a low price.

Lack of Results

Startup dreams are great but in the end you want to see some results, even if it’s just to verify your hard work actually produces some kind of output. Additionally, if you have investors or partners, they’ll want to see some results too. For investors the incentive is clear: you’re using their money, to get them more money. But friends and family will also be very disappointed if your startup isn’t able to deliver your promises.

The fact that you work with coaches, a schedule, a well thought out plan, the fact that you have a larger network and access to more knowledge will make it much easier for you to produce something tangible. Entrepreneurship is about turning a vision into a result: you can’t do that  when you’re in a room on your own, 24/7.

Unnecessary mistakes

I know it’s very cool to say that you should make as many mistakes as possible, because it will miraculously turn your idea into a operating company. I disagree and so do you, seeing that it’s much better to avoid  wasting money, time and people’s patience as much as possible, and only make well calculated mistakes from which you learn.And there are a couple of things about mistakes that accelerators and incubators can help you with.

A lot of not-so-smart mistakes come from entrepreneurs who pride themselves with being opinionated and stubborn. Though it’s great to have an opinion on what you think should happen, it’s even better to double check it with an expert or a peer before spending the next three months finding out what you could’ve known on forehand. In my experience, it’s better to ask than to assume. And with a co-founder, coach, accelerator network, and a lot of other startups, it’s much easier to find a person who knows a person.

Don’t get me wrong, you’ll make mistakes and you’ll make a lot of them that in hindsight were so obvious your beloved and blind-as-a-bat granny could’ve seen them coming. But if these mistakes are the result of you being stubborn or refusing to ask for help, you’re going to have a hard time setting up a company.

In short..

There are lots of entrepreneurs who make it without an accelerator or incubator. But if you’re clear on what you want but don’t know how to get it, participating in a program can be very beneficial. A good coach or program is like a personal trainer: it’s get you off your butt and in shape!

3 myths about entrepreneurship everybody should know

More people are starting their own companies and there’s a meriad of reasons why they should. You’re your own boss, you have a great plan you want to see realised, you can spend 40 hours a week doing what you like and more. However, if I told you a large deal of people are starting their own “companies” because of the bad economy (they’re freelancing/ taking any assignment in order to get by) the idea of entrepreneurship quickly becomes less glamorous. Additionally, you won’t spend less time working on your company because you work from home; you’ll work more. You hardly have chance of better dividing your time between entrepreneurship and you family, because all your time will be devoted to your company.

This might be a bit blunt but there’s truth in these statements. Here are some things I’ve learnt from working with entrepreneurs day in and day out.

Entrepreneurs are those people you see at the Coffee2Go

If there’s one thing I’d immediately like to point out, entrepreneurs don’t spend hours and hours sipping coffee, typing away the hours in serenity and gazing outside. The only reasons the average entrepreneur would visit a coffee company is because he’s got nowhere else to take a client or because he’s having a breakdown and can’t see another revised cash flow prognosis.

Of course entrepreneurship is about realizing a vision that you’ve cooked up with your buddies at the bar, but the execution of your big dream won’t take place at the local coffee shop. It’ll most likely take place at your living room, a little corner of one of your investors’ offices or an incubator 2×2 M2 office where the rent is low, the internet barely existing and the coffee, well.. not as good as that of the coffee company.

It’s fun

They don’t call entrepreneurship a “financial and emotional” rollercoaster for nothing. Yes, it can be uplifting, thrilling, exciting, fun and adventurous, but make sure you take into account there will be quite some downfalls too. From partnerships not working out to your own friends and family downright rejecting your business dream. It’s tough to hang in there when you experience major drawbacks and the long-term rewards you were looking for are further postphoned.

On the positive side you’re building a legacy. It won’t be an Alexander-The-Great-legacy, but you’re building something larger than yourself, allowing you to develop yourself beyond whatever would’ve been possible without the challenges and ambitions you carved out. You’ll experience the freedom of making your own decisions. Don’t think you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. Work weeks still start at Monday and you’ll still have to deal with angry customers, but how you deal with it is up to you. You can plan you own appointment, have a flexible schedule and decide in what direction the company is going. In the end, you decide what’s important, good or the right direction to take.

You thought it all out

Entrepreneurship is an adventure because you don’t know what’ll come up next. It’s like going on a trip around the world: you can ask friends for advice, buy dictionaries, get your tickets up front, arrange hotel and double check your to-do list with your family, but you’ll still run into the unexpected. Locals only speak a dialect, you didn’t need that first aid kit, your hostel is closed due to a gas leakage so now you’re being relocated to a Ritz. It’s extremely important to prepare well and recognize even the possibilities you don’t have a solution for. Just don’t expect that your preparation will get you through unscathed.

This means that your family has to support your entrepreneurial dreams 100%. It means being sensible about inviting friends as partners to the company, being sensible about working hours and holidays, and being realistic about money and alternatives if your company doesn’t work out or goes bankrupt.

In short, entrepreneurship is a very rewarding way of earning your money, but not always an easy one. You hardly have money in the beginning and the chances of failure are large. But if your environment has your back, you have well developed plan and a financial Plan B, starting your own company – even if you fail – will certainly leave you without any regrets!

Crowdfunding lijkt leven in boekhandel Donner te blazen

Met de crowdfundingscampagne ‘Donner moet blijven’ is tot nu toe 40.000 euro opgehaald. Vijf personeelsleden willen in totaal 5 ton ophalen om de overname van de boekwinkel in Rotterdam te financieren. Met 12.000 personen, die op Facebook de actie steunen, zou dit geen probleem moeten zijn.

Vijf personeelsleden van het huidige Polare Rotterdam proberen via crowdfunding voldoende kapitaal te verzamelen om de boekwinkel aan de Lijnbaan voort te kunnen zetten onder de naam Donner. Door de winkel mede in eigendom te geven aan de coöperatie willen de vijf de binding van de winkel met de stad en haar klanten versterken. Sinds zaterdag kan iedereen een aandeel kopen via het online platform Symbid. De minimale inleg bedraagt 20 euro. (…)

Ludwine Dekker van Symbid laat weten dat het bedrag is opgedeeld in twee tranches van 250.000 euro: ‘Het einddoel is daardoor reëler en komt eerder in zicht. Is de eerste tranche gehaald, kunnen de initiatiefnemers bijvoorbeeld al beginnen met het opzetten van de coöperatie.’
Lees het vervolg van dit artikel door Maurice Geluk op ErasmusJournalisten

Equity Crowdfunding: Is It Hype- Worthy?

Crowdfunding is hot, kick-starting not only our companies but entire economies. It is the go-to miracle measure to create ambassadors, marketing, money and products out of nowhere.

These expectations came into existence after major crowdfunding successes, like that of Pebble Watch. There are different types of crowdfunding however, and each type of crowdfunding benefits a specific type of company or a specific need within that company. Let’s look at the differences to get a grip on how crowdfunding can help your start-up!

Peer-to-Peer Lending

Much of what people expect banks to do has been replaced with bottom-up initiatives, like peer-to-peer lending. As an entrepreneur, it is easy to understand: The money you receive is not yours, you’ll have to pay it back to the many investors who then benefit from the interest rate the entrepreneur proposed. Though understandably for the lender and therefore easy to sell for the entrepreneur, lending brings some potential problems. It may hurt your cash flow, you might not be able to pay back the loan as soon as you expected, or the company goes bankrupt and you have to pay back the debts yourself. Finally, it doesn’t increase the value of your company as the money isn’t owned by you.

Lending can be beneficial for companies that expect revenue in the near future and companies with a good solvability. However, if the bank didn’t give you the money, it might be wise to double check with your account before asking the crowd for a loan.

Example: http://www.pret-dunion.fr/

Donations and Reward-Based Crowdfunding

These hardly need an explanation. Donations are very valuable for your company if you want to increase your company’s image (think about“Food-for-Africa”-run with your employees or setting up schools). Reward-based campaigns are valuable because you can test people’s willingness to purchase your product, test the product, and of course train your own marketing skills. And of course, as a start-up, you probably need the cash. Also, being able to add revenue and products sold to your investment or loan offer, donations increases the chances an investor or a bank will  give you money.

The major drawbacks are that the product has to be as good as ready to produce. In order to do that it’s often required that you create a prototype for which you need, you guessed it, money. Unless you have a very good prototype or a product that doesn’t require one, it’ll be hard to convince the crowd to invest. Because these two forms of crowdfunding are so popular, there’s also the chance that you might drown in the offers that would-be backers are confronted with. Marketing is the key with this type of funding.

Example: http://www.kiva.org/

Example: http://www.indiegogo.com

Equity Crowdfunding

Equity crowdfunding in Europe has been in development for the last four years in the US, and has been practised in Europe during that time. It turns out to be a tough nut to crack. Not only legally but also because “buying a company” is not what the majority of people do on a daily basis. Even if they have the general knowledge of what the meaning of being a partial owner of a company is, the entrepreneur will still receive a lot of questions about the equity crowdfunding platform, the legal aspects, the expected ROI, and so forth. It requires the entrepreneur to have a well thought plan and an even better (and understandable) pitch.

On the bright side, raising funds via equity crowdfunding will increase the value of your company. You’ll have more access to knowledge, networks,  additional money in a later stage, and you will create stakeholders that help you promote the company. Also, the investors and the entrepreneur establish a long-term meaningful relationship. Thinking about another round? Chances are your old investors will want to be there first: higher the investment, higher the involvement. Finally, your solvability will be improved, increasing the chances of a loan, if needed. Be sure to double check the safety of the platform however, by seeing who the financial and legal partners of the equity-funding platform are and whether or not they are CAPS-accredited.

Premier Mark Rutte start crowdfundingcampagne voor investeringsplatform Symbid

Goed nieuws voor crowdfundingplatform Symbid, waar ik werk als campagnemanager. Afgelopen zaterdag werd het European Centre for Entrepreneurship (Rotterdam), waar Symbid is gevestigd, geopend door premier Mark Rutte. Tegelijkertijd startte hij ook de crowdfundingcampagne voor aandelen-crowdfunder Symbid.

Premier Rutte zei bij het luiden van de gong waarmee de handel werd afgetrapt, initiatieven als Symbid te ondersteunen:

“Ik juich het van harte toe dat bedrijven voor hun financiering ook geld ophalen bij particulieren als versterking van het eigen vermogen. Het leidt tot grote betrokkenheid van kleine investeerders.”

Investeringsplatform Symbid financiert zichzelf

Waarom start je als crowdfundingplatform een campagne voor jezelf? In ons geval is het al langere tijd mogelijk om als investeerder Symbid-aandelen te kopen, maar dan wel alleen via de Amerikaanse beurs waar we sinds december 2014 genoteerd staan aan de OTCQB in New York (tickersymbool SBID).

Fantastisch spannende ontwikkelingen natuurlijk voor zo’n relatief klein bedrijf met zulke grote ambities. Vanuit onze vrienden, familie, kennissen, klanten, zakelijke partners en oud-ondernemers is er dan ook erg positief gereageerd en hebben we ontzettend vaak de vraag gekregen of zij niet ook konden investeren. Via de OTC notering is het echter alleen mogelijk om te investeren vanaf EUR 25.000; vaak een te hoog bedrag voor onze omgeving.

Daarom zijn we afgelopen zaterdag gestart met een crowdfundingcampagne waardoor iedereen kan investeren in Symbid Crowdfunding B.V. Het op te halen bedrag is EUR 200.000, waarvan op zaterdag zo’n EUR 130.000 werd opgehaald! Inmiddels staat de teller op 75% financiering.

Hoe bevalt dat nou, zo’n campagne?

Als campagnemanager bij Symbid zorg ik er met mijn collega’s normaal gesproken voor dat andermans campagnes worden gefinancierd. Het is natuurlijk ontzettend leuk om nu eens “voor jezelf” aan de slag te gaan en alle stappen te doorlopen die ondernemers doorlopen.

Het is heel goed om te merken dat eigenlijk alle informatie die je ondernemers meegeeft klopt. Van planning tot en met de pitch video en van het benaderen van het eigen netwerk tot en met het uploaden van heldere informatie. Zeker het idee dat je je pitch ontzettend goed moet voorbereiden (informatie en alle investeerders op voorhand klaarzetten) voordat je je campagne start is heel erg waar gebleken. Door een goede coördinatie van het Symbid-team en alle netwerken van de teamleden, plus het tijdig informeren van deze netwerken, schoot de teller “ineens” naar 65%.

Leermomentje? De hoeveelheid vragen die er komen van zowel het eigen netwerk als onbekende investeerders. Vragen over de website, betaalmethoden, juridische structuur, duur van de campagne, kosten, te verwachten dividend, inspraak en zeggenschap: alles komt voorbij. Tip voor degenen die zelf gaan crowdfunden: verzamel de eerste tien vragen die je ontvangt en formuleer hierop standaard antwoorden. Hiermee gaat het beantwoorden van deze vragen sneller en kun je investeerders beter te woord staan.

Meer weten?

Lees het volledige persbericht op Emerce, of bekijk de campagne op Symbid.com