Owning a business is a dream of many aspiring entrepreneurs. However, for most of them, it remains a distant and an unfulfilled dream. Reason? The initial capital. It has been observed that the prime reasons businesses do not start are not lack of idea or vision, but finance. Many have noticed this shortfall but ignored it. However, there is one firm that chose to address it and came up with a pioneering idea to transform private equity investment which has brought many ideas, back to life.
Founded by Executive Chairman & Founder, Jeff Lynn and Co-founder Carlos Silva in 2012, Seedrs is a leading equity crowdfunding platform that allows all types of investors to access, discover, invest, and/or build a portfolio of investments from as little as £/€10 in businesses. It enables ambitious businesses from all sectors to raise capital and build community through an efficient, online process. With over a whopping £1billion invested into around 1200 deals, it has helped businesses across almost every industry including finance, energy, property, food & beverages, technology, manufacturing, and more. For its contribution, Seedrs was awarded the prestigious “Most Trusted Global Equity Crowd Funding Platform for the year 2018” award. Headquartered in London, UK it has offices in Lisbon, Amsterdam, and Berlin. “Our mission is to enable all types of investors to invest in businesses they believe in and share in their success. We enable all types of growth-focused businesses to raise capital and a community in the process,” says Jeff Kelisky, CEO of Seedrs.
Coming with vast experience in sales, technology, marketing, and finance, Kelisky joined Seedrs in 2017. Having worked with large multinational giants, medium private businesses, and start-ups he has a successful track record in building, leading, and scaling successful technology businesses. Before joining Seedrs, Kelisky was CEO with a known $75 million image capture business in the entertainment industry where he was the mind behind the company’s transition from analogue to digital.
For Kelisky, working in the field of finance is one of his greatest passions. He likes the industry as it exhibits massive untapped value from remaining massively fragmented and hard to access. “It is an industry, which through technology and innovation, has significant potential to not only improve outcomes for growth companies and their investors but as a result improve the economy and the world that entrepreneurs are trying to improve,” says Kelisky. “The mission is big, and if done well, the potential for a better world for our customers, employees, and communities is enormous. And I love that we can play a part in that.”
“Our mission is to enable all types of investors to invest in businesses they believe in and share in their success. We enable all types of growth-focused businesses to raise capital and a community in the process.”
Seedrs is a multi-currency platform that operates across Europe and has investors from over 93 countries. This not only positions Seedrs ahead of its competition but also builds a strong profile that attracts more investors. During the entire life span of the investment, Seedrs provides personalized attention to its customers (whether investor or company). Moreover, it provides its founders, employees, and early investors the option to release secondary liquidity without having to wait for an IPO or exit. By allowing investors to buy into a company later (after the funding round), Seedrs giving the investors a complete package and seals the deal. “Our unique offer protects and empowers investors while helping businesses grow. We are equity crowdfunding done properly,” affirms Kelisky.
Being the first-ever UK equity crowdfunding platform to embrace UK regulation and nominee structures, Seedrs opened up new avenues for investors to support ambitious businesses, thereby making it easier for the entrepreneurs to raise the initial capital they need. As a mission-driven business, Seedrs has completely redefined the private equity investment sector. Driven to discover new, innovative ways of fortifying investors while helping businesses grow, Seedrs outshines the competition in a myriad of ways. Being one of the only equity crowdfunding platforms to offer a secondary market where investors get the option of selling their shares early, Seedrs writes its own success story.
“The greatest attribute of our company culture is its desire and ability to always wrestle, as a team, with the tension that exists between ‘Entrepreneurship’, which requires you to push boundaries and be agile with ‘Doing the right thing’, which sometimes means you have tough boundaries you need to work within or even, as a two-sided market, opposing demands from your customers,” says Kelisky. “Seedrs wrestles this tension collaboratively, with great care, and compassion”.
Seedrs is a perfect example of how an outstanding workplace culture drives performance. Out of the several projects, Seedrs has successfully triumphed, there was this one project which made Seedrs think completely out of the box. Seedrs was repeatedly receiving huge demand from larger institutional investors who wanted access to the higher returns. However, they wanted to make massive investments of £5m, £10m, or more and therefore needed a product that could invest across multiple businesses based on criteria they would lay down. This mammoth challenge was an opportunity and Seedrs made no mistake in recognising it. Seedrs accepted the challenge and focused all its resources towards creating an algorithmic fund product that monitored the deal-flow into its primary market while retaining the tax efficiency of those investments. The project was a huge success.
"Our unique offer protects and empowers investors while helping businesses grow. We are equity crowdfunding done properly."
Seedrs against Covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic has been ruthless on the business world. “The Fintech industry will be affected by Covid-19 in much the same way as many other technology industries,” says Kelisky. “Covid-19 has increasingly meant that individuals whether in a personal or professional capacity, need more knowledge, more control, more power at their fingertips, wherever they are, and whenever they need it. And for all the services they use that have financial underpinnings, this is what the fintech industry is, at its core, seeking to deliver – democratic access, convenience, utility, and efficiency, at lower costs, for all. The demand from the fintech industry will only grow in this same vein, but the challenge will be the same for all of them – and that is building businesses, building teams, getting work done in a covid world where there may be some time still before working together in the real world, is easy again”. Kelisky also points to the three of the principal risks that FinTech businesses are likely to face in the future. He says “(i) Interconnectedness (or the adoption of standards, whether defacto or dejure) as a growing number of players compete for overlapping pieces of the financial services ecosystem, (ii) regulation, which will be critical to have and evolve, particularly around private market, but need to be fit-for-purpose, and (iii) the strategies adopted by the large incumbents which on the one hand are slow to adopt the new disciplines needed as well as the demands being made by 21st century customers, but on the other hand do have immense resources to put to work in order to serve the customer and protect their turf. Actions to mitigate these risks vary significantly, however, a common theme may be in embracing the challenges by working with the stakeholders to (i) find the right standards, (ii) find the regulatory middle-ground, and (iii) partner with the forward acting incumbents.”
Even during a pandemic Seedrs has performed well with the number of deals and the total amount invested through crowdfunding platforms increased against H1 2019. “We saw a record-breaking five exits, including fintech ANNA Money and car charging firm PodPoint, in the first five months of 2020, following a 49% growth in investment in 2019,” shares Kelisky.
Having achieved sustainable growth, Seedrs is in no mood for taking anything less than extraordinary as an option. The pandemic might have slowed down the pace of other businesses. However, with a resilient work and business plan, Seedrs is not just optimistic but confident that it will continue its winning streak in the post the pandemic world. Seedrs is relentlessly working towards its goal of building one of the largest private equity market place and make it an integral part of the current financial system. “We want to continue supporting thousands of ambitious, fast-growth businesses and millions of investors and have them reap the benefits,” says Kelisky.