Nov-26-2012: Montreal Crowdfund Night – Recap and Thoughts

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Pléiade Capital   By Emil Vanjaka

Nov 26, 2012 Montreal Crowdfunding Night (recap)

Last Monday night, the 26th of November 2012, a Crowdfund Night was organized at Notman House by Seeding Factory. The night was graciously led byHeri Rakotomalala and Bruno Rakotozafy.

  Crowdfunding has relatively recently become a rapidly growing phenomenon amongst the startup community with regard to financing projects, be it entrepreneurial initiatives, artistic endeavours, athletic goals or simply a well deserved vacation. This financing medium has opened a new world of opportunities and served to fill a gap that may have existed (and still might) within the industry in order to circumvent certain more rigid financing structures that can sometimes be out of reach or scope for many projects and startups.

  The Crowdfund Night thus rallied a number of established, as well as emerging players within the Montreal and Quebec crowdfunding community. Namely PlebsMake a Champ and Fundo, to name a few. Mingling in the crowd, we also had the chance to talk to some amazing people from organizations such as Anges Québec and Fundica.

  The night began with an introduction and a brief yet enthusiastically optimistic keynote speech from the two organizers, Heri and Bruno, about the current state of crowdfunding around the world, as well as some of its most notable success stories. I believe that quite a few people were amazed and delighted at the opportunities that this financing platform has created and helped fund.

  Thereafter, three projects were presented to the crowd in order for everyone to vote on which they found most interesting. An amusing way of getting everyone in attendance more actively involved throughout the night, as the $5 entrance fee per person was thus redistributed to the projects on a per vote basis.

  The first to present their initiative was Make a Champ, which is essentially a crowdfunding platform aimed at athletes or sporting organizations. Put simply, it creates a space where anyone related to the world of sports can come tell their story and find financing for their projects, be it to fund a team trip, organize a tournament, etc. The two very charismatic founders, Michael Shpigelman and David Anchor, whom I had a chance to speak to prior to their presentation, briefly explained their project and then gave the floor to two members of the McGill figure skating team, which is currently running a fundraising campaign on the site in order to compete in an inter-university competition in January 2013 in Hamilton, Ontario.

  Second to present was Elza Kephard, an award winning film director, who spoke of her 2nd and latest feature film titled: Go in the Wilderness. She was looking at raising $30,000 to finish post-production and managed to find half that amount through her Indiegogo campaign which ended on November 14th. She is therefore looking at raising the other half of the required funds, to which she passionately attests to covering with her own credit cards if need be, though she somewhat jokingly admits may not be in the greatest shape. She is looking at presenting her film at the upcoming Ontario film festival.

  Last, but certainly not least, was Gabriel Menard, founder of Division Furtive, a company manufacturing and selling a dual linear movement watch. He himself designed the watch and assembles the pieces by hand. He is currently running a funding campaign on Kickstarter in order to raise the funds required for production. By contributing, you can reserve your limited edition Type 46 watch, as well as purchase his Type 40 model.

  Once the project presentations ended, the floor was given to Diana Yazidjian who presented the Invest Crowdfund Quebec initiative, as well as talked more generally about Invest (or Equity) Crowdfunding around the world. Her enthusiasm for the topic was more than evident. The energy in the crowd was palpable throughout her short yet lively presentation, as nods of agreement could be seen for almost every statement she made. One which I most agreed with was the opportunity that such a platform would create for startups by filling a noticeable financing gap. There are of course many regulatory and legislative concerns and barriers when it comes to setting the foundations for this initiative, yet its coming of is seen by many to be inevitable. Whether these financing options will emerge in Quebec and Canada at a relevant and opportunistic time is a question that the Invest Crowdfund Quebec initiative is pushing hard to provide an answer to.

  In this respect, we have, on our end, spoken to a number of angel investors and VCs regarding any perceived threat with the possible impending emergence of Investment Crowdfunding in Quebec. In general, and there have been some reservations, it seems to be seen as more of an opportunity for the entrepreneurial community as a whole rather than a threat to any individual businesses. The view that we have been given from the arguably limited community we have spoken to is that this form of crowdfunding can serve a sector of the industry which may not necessarily be targeted by, or which may not be targeting, the now available financing options and infrastructures. Even more, and as Diana seemed to mention, Investment Crowdfunding can be seen as an opportunity for VCs and angel investors to test certain waters, so to speak.

Leaving Notman House, I couldn’t help but feel optimistic not only about the future of crowdfunding in Quebec, but also, and more importantly, about the future of startups and the entrepreneurial community as a whole. The next few years, if not even months or weeks, will without a doubt hold many interesting and dynamic changes!

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