ABOUT OUR GUESTFor those of you that don’t know Anna, she is the co-founder of PledgeMe, New Zealand’s first crowdfunding platform. Since launching, over 1,400 creative, community and entrepreneurial campaigns have raised almost $50 million through PledgeMe. Campaigns have ranged from Ethique who raised half a million dollars in ninety minutes from going to the public, through to craft beer company Parrotdog raising $2million in two days to move into their new brewery. Anna has also worked for the New Zealand Government, MIT and Harvard, and completed her Masters in Entrepreneurship with a focus on crowdfunding.
INSPIRATIONThis TED talk “The Anti-CEO Playbook” – where the founder of Chobani, Hamdi Ulukaya, tells the story of buying a yogurt factory that was being closed down by Kraft and how it led to the revitalization of a community and creation of a global powerhouse.
- Community is the keystone – The success of PledgeMe, and really any crowd-funding campaign, is the buy-in from its community. The role of those leading a campaign is to activate their tribe that believes passionately in its objectives.
- Government is the enabler – The role of government is to encourage and nurture community-led actions through education and targetted financial support. Too often their actions hinder rather than promote community-led campaigns.
- Land as a stakeholder – New Zealand now legally recognises land and rivers as natural persons. What if land had seat at the board table? How would the conversation change?
BARRIERS TO OVERCOME
- Unhelpful regulation – Although intended to unlock regulatory hurdles, the requirements for equity crowd-funding in Australia are formidable. The PledgeMe checklist for enabling new issues is 10 times longer in Australia than in New Zealand. It significantly drives up costs in terms of time and dollars, and undermines the effectiveness of equity crowd funding.
- Misplaced grants – Government has a key role to play in supporting the public good aspects of some community projects. But too often government defaults to grant programs that are administered by a bureaucracy trying to interpret government policy that in turn tends to lag public demand. Better to leverage the wisdom of the crowd and co-invest with communities that are investing with their feet (and wallets) in the things they passionately believe in.
- Understanding impact – PledgeMe struggled to understand how to accommodate financial and non-financial goals in their decision-making with respect to approving projects for their platform. They settled on a target of 50% of projects must include non-financial impacts in their objectives (currently over 70% have them). Then there is the question of how to measure impact – there isn’t a dominant standard, and how do you manage ‘data fatigue’ and our very human need for a narrative.
SEEDS OF HOPE
- Shared superpowers – communities tend to grow around a successful business or model – this could be an anchor institution or shared productive activity. So Superpowers will come from building on what already exists and what the community can rally behind.
- Community-powered infrastructure – There is plenty of opportunity to use equity-crowd funding in the infrastructure space, but it has not been widely adopted yet. This is partly a function of structure – only public companies can raise capital under the equity crowd funding rules. In funding infrastructure, there is always the question as to where the line is between government versus privately-held ownership. Somewhat depends on the absolute breadth of the public good – is there a community that has a common cause or is the driver based more on place or location. Hamburg water utilities…
- Network of trust – Equity crowd-funding works best when there is a tribe of believers that are able to rally around a campaign. The average single investment in a campaign is $2,000, while contributions are often limited to a maximum of $10,000. This means campaigns tend to build on wide community support. This creates it own advantages as the raising is based on a network of trust. The leaders of a campaign will be known to the community from whom they seek support. That community will in turn spread the word to their friends and family. These trust based relationships serve to de-risk the projects.