Nov. 13, 2020

111: Move the Crowd | Chris Burge and Spark Crowdfunding

111: Move the Crowd | Chris Burge and Spark Crowdfunding

Chris Burge from Spark Crowdfunding joins the show to talk about two-sided marketplaces, the differences between crowdfunding for B2C and B2B companies, his own transition from the life of an energy consultant to that of a crowdfunding platform operator….and the long-term benefits of stag weekends!

This episode of MoneyNeverSleeps is sponsored by PAT Fintech, the training partner that demystifies fintech and digital finance for financial services professionals.

EPISODE OVERVIEW:

We’ve got Chris Burge on the show this week, who is the co-founder and CEO of Spark Crowdfunding here in Ireland. Spark is an equity crowdfunding platform helping Irish companies raise new funds from a vast pool of private investors.

Pete first came across Spark when he was working on a crowdfunding platform project last year, and he thought he had it all figured out at that point through desktop research. However, a conversation with the founder of a business can make all the difference!  This may seem obvious, but with any business, there’s usually an untold story as to why the founder was determined to get their product to market, and all you've got to do is ask.

HIGHLIGHTS:

On the problem with investing small amounts in startups: “I had done a small amount of startup investing, and I found that it cost you just as much in legal fees to invest as it did to make the investment itself.”

On launching the platform: “Getting a two-sided marketplace going is a difficult way of getting the ball rolling. You’ve got startups on one side and investors on the other and trying to persuade both of them that you’ll get enough of the other to make this successful is a difficult conundrum.”

On why there was a gap in the market: “The banks wax lyrical on how much money they’re putting into young startup companies, but in reality, they’re not. The amounts these startups are raising are too small for VC, so their only option is private investors, but the startups aren’t connected with these people. We knew we could bridge that gap.”

On crowdfunding for B2C vs. B2B companies: “Yes, I do see the argument that a B2C like BrewDog will raise in excess with lots of small investments from thousands of investors, but smaller numbers of investors putting larger amounts into a B2B is an equally valid approach.”

On the pending European crowdfunding platform regulation: “We’re certainly ready for it and I think the market will be ready for it as well.”

On developing the skill set to run a crowdfunding platform vs. that of an energy consultant: “Maybe it was always there under the surface, bubbling away, but it’s something I’ve embraced and I really enjoy it.”

On why crowdfunding can work well: “The companies who are coming to us want a big spread of investors, they don’t want just two high net worth investors putting a chunk of money in.  The companies are coming to us because they want to get their name out there and crowdfunding can really help you do that.”

On what Chris is most excited about: “We’ve only scratched the surface. Of all the investment that goes into startups, the vast majority of that is being done by VCs at the moment. We’ve got an open playing field to help young startup companies to get investment.”

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