Crowdfunding is an excellent way of raising cash for a new business.
For the last decade or so, it’s been revolutionising the way business and projects are funded. And the UK has now become home to some very exciting and successful crowdfunding platforms; some of the best in the world.
Traditionally, financing any kind of business venture or project involved asking a few very rich people for large sums of money. Crowdfunding flips this idea on its head, by using the internet to reach out to a large number of people (we’re talking thousands and sometimes millions) and asking them for a small sum each.
By using the power of the internet to get entrepreneurs in touch with potential funders and investors, crowdfunding has helped millions of people over the world.
There are three main different type of crowdfunding:
- Donation/Reward Crowdfunding
- Equity Crowdfunding
- Debt Crowdfunding
We’ve put together a list of some of the best crowdfunding platforms in the UK, as we as explaining what each type does.
Donation & Reward Crowdfunding Platforms
This is crowdfunding where people invest in whatever the project is purely because they believe in the cause. This is the route charities go down when they are trying to raise money through online crowdfunding. No return is necessarily expected from contributing money to the cause, though rewards — such as free gifts, gig tickets, or meal vouchers — can sometimes be offered.
You may not know it to look at it, but JustGiving is actually UK-based and founded — it was the UK’s first online fundraising platform. JustGiving is now the world’s leading online fundraising platform, helping people to crowdfund over $4.5 billion in 164 countries since their launch in 2001.
Justgiving is ridiculously easy to use, with a clear infographic showing how much of your target you’ve hit, an easy-to-customise homepage, and one-touch buttons to link with social media to reach more people. It’s obvious to see why so many people choose to use this as a crowdfunding platform.
Next on our list is Crowdfunder — ranked as the UK’s number one crowdfunding platform. They’ve raised over £50 million for a range of different projects across the UK, from poverty to environmental to health projects.
One of their unique, awesome features is that they can provide extra funding for your project. They work with a number of partners — charities, public & private sector organisations and other funding bodies — to contribute more money to great ideas. This means that if you decide to go through Crowdfunder as your money-raising platform, you could be eligible for up to £20,000 (on top of the money you’ve already raised).
Equity Crowdfunding Platforms
Equity Crowdfunding platforms are great for new or young startups. Interested parties can invest in an early-stage company in exchange for shares. The new startup business profits, as they now have enough money to fund their business venture, and the investor benefits financially too if the company does well. It’s not without risk however; if the new company tanks, then the investors do stand to lose the money they’ve put in.
Seedrs is one of the leading equity-based crowdfunding platforms in the UK; in 2017 alone, £125 million was invested into campaigns and 168 deals funded through Seedrs. They originally started out in the UK and have now expanded to Europe, with investors in over 90 countries around the world.
Seedrs focuses on raising investment for startups in return for equity — in the form of shares.
One of the great things about Seedrs? (Aside from being incredibly successful, that is.) They offer support throughout the journey of the new startup, helping with things like documentation and investor relations, from first round through to exit.
Fun fact: British tennis champion Andy Murray used Seedrs to back more than 10 British business in 2017.
Crowdcube is another equity-based platform for startups looking for investment. Since their launch, they’ve seen £500 million invested in pitches, and over 750 successful raises.
Like many other equity crowdfunding platforms, Crowdcube works on an ‘all or nothing’ basis — if a pitch fails to reach its funding target, no payments will be taken from investors and the start up will receive nothing. (Although Crowdcube can extend the deadline, but they say this is decision is made at their own discretion).
So if you’re planning on using Crowdcube — or any other equity crowdfunding platform for that matter — then you really need to think about your target and business plan. Set your target too low, and you’ve wasted an amazing financing opportunity; overshoot and you could end up with nothing.
A relatively new kid on the block that is the UK crowdfunding market. SyndicateRoom offers a slightly different business model; they only list companies that are already backed by experienced business angels and venture capitalists etc. If you’re a member of SyndicateRoom, you can then choose to invest, knowing that the project you’re backing is far more likely to succeed.
Investments to private and public markets are aligned: if they decide to invest, members who aren’t business angels are offered the same economic terms.
Debt or Peer-to-Peer Crowdfunding Platforms
With Debt or Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Crowdfunding Platforms, investors who give their money to a business venture receive it back with interest.
This may not seem like it has much draw, considering the other crowdfunding platforms we’ve spoken about involve free money… however, if you’re a new startup, going through a P2P crowdfunding platform could be a great option for you. It means you get to bypass traditional bank loans, which can often take weeks or months.
Zopa is the UK’s online largest peer-to-peer (P2P) lender — and the first in the world, having launched in 2005.
They have a unique business model which basically bypasses regular bank loans, by matching lenders with borrowers online. The borrowers are happy because they get a low-rate loan, and the lenders are happy because they receive a higher rate of return — win win.
Another massive perk for customers is there are no early repayment fees — and applying for a Zopa loan doesn’t affect individual credit rating.
Another P2P crowdfunding provider is Funding Circle — their model allows people to lend directly to small businesses. Their idea was to put businesses and investors in touch, so that they could support and benefit each other.
They’re now one of the world’s leading platforms for small business lending — since 2010, they’ve raised around £250 million of equity capital. And they’re based in London.
As you can see, there are a variety of crowdfunding platforms in the UK. And these aren’t just some of the best in the UK — they’re some of the best in the world.
Depending on what you’re looking for, there are different types to suit your needs, whether you’re a startup looking for some help getting on your feet, or if you fancy investing in an exciting business venture.
Did you find our list of best crowdfunding platforms in the UK helpful? Is there anything you think that we’ve missed out?
Let us know in the comments below.