September 26th, 2018
How well I predicted crowdfunding in Canada for 2014
IT Business | Bret Conkin | December 17, 2015
Twelve months have passed since my predictions in ITBusiness.ca on how the 2014 Canadian crowdfunding sector would unfold. So here’s a look back and scorecard using a one to five scale (with five = 100 per cent accurate, and one = 100 per cent wrong) for my past prognostications. I will look into the alternative finance crystal ball for 2015 in a follow-up post coming soon.
1. Alternative Financing not a trend ~ 5
Exhibit 1: Lending Club’s IPO valuation of $9 billion last week made it larger than all but 14 banks in the U.S. Investor Interest in Lending Club (NYSE:LC) has continued to soar with the stock trading recently as high as $27 up from the $15 IPO price. The appetite on the lending side of crowdfunding appears very strong with OnDeck (NYSE: ONDK) up next with an IPO planned this week to raise $175 million. Banks beware.
Equity, donations and rewards have all shown dramatic growth internationally and the latter two models in Canada, as well. The growth of equity is covered below and while crowdlending in Canada has been mired in regulatory red tape, recent expansion in Quebec and Nova Scotia by Vancouver’s consumer lending platform GroupLend point to continued growth. The second “marketplace lending” entrant BorrowWell announced their intentions to launch Q1 2015. This restrictive lending regulatory environment also led the Vancouver co-founders of award–winning business lending platform InvestNextDoor.com to focus on the U.S. Market for now.
2. Plug ‘n Play on High Traffic Websites ~ 4
One of the more interesting developments in 2014 has been the implementation of “Crowdfunding as a Service” on some of the major print media publishers including FundAid.ca for Glacier Media, FuelLocal.ca for Metroland Media and Blackpress4good.com introducing the Power of Good (see image) – all Powered by FundRazr. While stand-alone sites, the campaigns, technology and promotion are integrated to varying degrees on their community news sites. (Full disclosure: I am a former FundRazr executive).
Overall, the trend for more high traffic websites to follow suit by offering crowdfunding as a service has been slower than anticipated. The traction of the new sites above is still unclear, but this trend will be very interesting to watch.
3. Fraud largely kept in check ~ 5
While the incidence of fraud continues to be low, there were some campaigns with a profile that have been under scrutiny, especially the delivery of international hardware campaigns including the HealBe Gobe calorie counter and the Cicret bracelet (see Brian Jackson’s article on Cicret here). The platforms continue to use and reference the systems in place for fraud prevention but “open” funding sites like Indiegogo largely employ caveat emptor and asking their communities to be whistleblowers.
The equity side is just getting off the ground via sites like SeedUps Canada with no indication of fraud to date. Overall, there has been less buzz around fraud on the equity side and the lending sector has seemingly developed data analysis, systems and algorithms such that risk mitigation of default is manageable and spread across multiple borrowers. As predicted, the move online does not appear to have increased incidence of fraud vs. offline.
4. Enter Enterprise ~ 3
I predicted that franchisors would see the funding and marketing benefits of crowdfunding and Aussie Pet Mobile recently launched an innovative equity campaign to launch new franchises in Ontario on SeedUps.ca. Social enterprise also gained significant traction with the launch of SVX Social Venture Exchange and campaigns like Saskatchewan’s Affinity Credit Union’s Business-for-Good Social Venture Challenge.
Internal crowdfunding by Enterprise has not emerged significantly even after IBM’s successful experiment in 2013 improved innovation and morale. More growth has been seen on the crowdsourcing and ideation side within enterprise. South of the border, Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation introduced SportsMatter and promptly matched $2M in funding for youth sports teams. It is unclear whether the program will continue in 2015 and lead to follow ons in Canada.
5. Away from Destination sites ~ 2
This trend has not yet gained substantial traction given the strength of well-funded destination sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo ($56M in VC funds to date). Indiegogo’s launch of OutPost as a self-hosted solution, powered by Indiegogo, launched sites like FanRepublic.co.uk but there has been little noise around it since early in 2014. For the most part, for fundraisers it is still about the destination sites.
Lockitron finally delivered on it’s product in 2014 after a successful direct crowdfund on their own site in 2012 after rejection by Kickstarter. They then offered up their open source code (http://selfstarter.us). The Cicret bracelet mentioned earlier also launched a direct appeal, carefully asking for “donations” vs. offering pre-order and claims to have raised 14% of it’s goal. White label offerings have proliferated including Calgary-based Katipult so we will see if this trend firms up in 2015.
6. Crowdfunding meets Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) ~ 4
GreedyGiver.ca has been an innovator with their Perks Marketplace and Raise on Behalf functionality for Canadian charities. It appears to be an indirect marketplace in that the gift cards utilized are not a formal CSR program by brands like Starbucks and Cineplex but some of the benefits, brand halo/confidence/value, still accrue. Other attempts at sponsored perks, like The Crowdfunder Show on Fox TV, came and went in 2014.
As mentioned above (in 2.) Canadian community print publishers have been early adopters of the benefits of accomplishing their corporate social responsibility while actually helping fund their customers, both readers and subjects of their stories.
7. Growing conformity on regulations ~ 3
While there are provincial differences and abstainers like Alberta, 6 provinces have indicated interest in following Saskatchewan’s “Startup” exemption and 5 provinces indicated interest in following Ontario’s proposed “Integrated Crowdfunding” exemption (a good summary can be found here).
In the U.S., seven states have adopted intrastate crowdfunding laws and 13 more are pending (learn more and see a map here). There are commonalities on certain aspects such as caps, reporting, qualifying issuers and so on. Once the Feds, finally, introduce JOBs Title III in the US and after the new provincial exemptions have some time in market, expect the move to cross-border conformity to accelerate.
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