Democratising Investment

In my early years in corporate finance, I worked with a lot of high-growth technology businesses. Seeing how passionate the founders were about solving problems was inspirational and helped me understand that I was more suited to working with entrepreneurs than in a large accounting firm where I was a little cog in a big machine.

Wanting to see cool companies grow, expand, and innovate was one of the prime reasons for starting Equitise. I thought it would be highly rewarding to help potentially fast-growing businesses access the capital they needed to be even more successful . That drove me to find a solution, which led me to crowdfunding and the Equitise platform.

Problem Solvers
At Equitise we meet inspirational people every day of the week, people who are creating businesses in niches that I didn’t even know existed. People who are tenacious, hardworking, flexible, and innovative. When they believe there is a problem to be solved they won’t give up until they’ve solved it. It’s often not about financial gain; it’s about passion and a drive to improve the world.

We have mobile apps, subscription-based socks and jocks businesses, surfboard manufacturers, robotics, and an annuity index fund. There’s something for everybody.

Companies on the Equitise platform are very diverse and the founders certainly don’t fit one mold. We have pre and post-revenue startups. We have a gin business with a very strong consumer following. We have mobile apps, subscription-based socks and jocks businesses, surfboard manufacturers, robotics, and an annuity index fund. There’s something for everybody.

The first lens we put over a company is to ask whether it would actually generate crowdfunding interest. In that sense we look very much at Business to Consumer (B2C) as opposed to Business to Business (B2B) companies.

B2C works better because if a business has a strong following it forms a ready-made funding source. For example, a micro-brewery typically has loyal and passionate customers who may be willing to make an investment.

On the other hand a business such as a B2B Software as a Service (SaaS) platform might be a really good candidate for venture capital, but from a crowdfunding point of view it would be really hard to fill, despite it being a great business model. Consumer-based businesses can get strategic investment from their most loyal customers who then become brand advocates and shareholders.

Investors
For investors, we’re trying to democratise capital. We were a driving force behind changes to Australian laws that have enabled retail investors (any Australian over 18 years), or ‘Mum and Dad’ investors, to invest in early stage businesses without being restricted by the government.

Before January 2018, investing in startups and private companies has been perceived as almost like a form of gambling, which is baffling because private companies are the engine room of the Australian economy.

Before January 2018, investing in startups and private companies has been perceived as almost like a form of gambling, which is baffling because private companies are the engine room of the Australian economy. They generate a high proportion of the GDP, they employ most of the people, and they are also responsible for a lot of the innovation that advances society. If anything we should be supporting these companies even more.

The government doesn’t restrict people going to the casino and gambling, putting their money in slot machines which are designed to take it from them, but they had a huge issue with platforms like ours that enable retail investors to back really cool businesses they believe in.

Investors are looking for diversification away from listed stocks and property. They invest in businesses through Equitise because they want to get exposure to an alternative asset market. We cover a big risk profile. We offer ultra high-risk and potentially very high-return pre-revenue stage companies right through to Initial Public Offerings. There’s huge diversification that will cater to most investor needs.

Investors know we have a detailed, robust onboarding process and there’s a great range of types of deals and stages of deals that come through the platform.

As we progress our mission to democratise equity investment in private companies, we’re changing perceptions so that it’s recognised as a real alternative for investment.
Looking ahead we’re planning to expand into other geographies to provide even more options for companies and investors. We’ll continue to source more deals through the platform and have more investors investing more frequently.

Our community is growing, our platform is developing, our deal flow is strengthening and we are working hard to ensure that all three continue to evolve.

Chris Gilbert is the Managing Director and Co-Founder of Equitise.