With the announcement of Australia’s 2015 Federal Budget, Crowdfunding has been THE topic on everyones lips. Can it work in Australia? How does it work? And how do I get involved? Luckly at Tank Stream Labs we are fortunate enough to have a new member at the forefront of this “fintech” disruption. We took a moment to get to know Chris Gilbert and his passion, Equitise – helping startups raise capital.
Chris, what is your Industry background? And why Equitise?
I have a professional background in investment banking and management consulting. I have always been determined to improve the accessibility of capital in New Zealand and Australia for startups, small and medium sized businesses and it inspired me to found Equitise.
What is Equitise? Why should startups and entrepreneurs be using it?
Bringing investors and entrepreneurs together, the Equitise crowdfunding platform simplifies the investment marketplace. It removes traditional barriers to investing and sourcing capital by making the process quick, easy and safe.
In doing so, we help businesses to grow and thrive.
How it works:
1. Entrepreneurs profile their plans and set a funding target
2. Investors commit money to their preferred opportunities
3. If funding targets are reached, shareholder agreements are signed (if not, money is refunded)
Equitise will be the first Australian platform to complete a crowdfunding campaign using retail and sophisticated investors (via New Zealand operation).
How are you managing to sway current crowdfunding legislative constraints and any advice for those looking to enter an industry where they may need to seek legislative change?
We’re working very closely with Australian legislation in order to facilitate the equity crowdfunding model in Australia. We are expecting the regulations to change by the spring session of parliament and envisage that we will be up and running before the end of 2015 in Australia. Bruce Billson has been a huge supporter for equity crowdfunding.
We recently hosted a conference in the ASX function centre where Bruce Billson attended as a key note speaker (among other prominent figures in the financial industry). The focus of this event was to discuss alternative finance (or ‘Fintech’) and also shed some light on the advances of equity crowdfunding in Australia.
My advice for those interested in influencing a change in legislation is to meet with government officials, network and build key relationships that can support your cause.
Why do you think Australia is so behind when it comes to crowdsourced funding?
The Australian market is closely following the New Zealand market in changing its local laws to enable equity crowdfunding. New Zealand is now the most liberal equity crowdfunding market in the world with regard to the restrictions typically imposed on investors and issuers. Fortunately, the Australian government is currently implementing a very similar approach to mimic what was rolled out in New Zealand and despite it taking longer than anticipated, I think the government is doing a good job in assessing the key components of Australian law that require change to enable private companies to more easily access this form of funding.
The restrictions include:
- A limit on the number of shareholders in a private company before having to change its structure to public (50 shareholders)
- Limitations on promoting private investments to protect unsophisticated investors
- Restrictions on the number of retail (or ‘mum and dad’ investors) allowed to invest in a private offer (20 over a 12 month period)
What makes you different to other crowdsourced funding platforms?
We are the first Trans-Tasman equity crowdfunding platform. We will be able to provide investments opportunities for Kiwis and Aussies, and they will be able to invest vice versa. Equitise also plans on launching into the Asian market soon to enable both Australian and New Zealand companies a better opportunity to network and raise capital from a much wider pool of potential angel investors.
What should we expect from Equitise in the next 12 months?
Interesting investment opportunities. We are launching our Australian platform and bringing Rabble to Australia but, there is a whole lot more! Unfortunately, we can’t give away all our secret sauce, you’ll just have to wait and see.