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PledgeMe and Snowball Effect get first equity crowd funding licences

PledgeMe and Snowball Effect are the first equity crowd funders to be licensed to act as intermediaries between companies wanting to sell shares and investors wanting to buy.

This morning, the Financial Markets Authority issued its first licenses under the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013 for equity crowd funding – an alternative to listing on the stock exchange and a cheap way for entrepreneurs to raise funds from the public. 

Companies are limited to raising no more than $2 million from the public in any 12-month period.

12 companies put forward expressions of interest. The FMA put five applications under formal consideration.

The licensing of these two providers means a more open and innovative market for companies and investors, FMA director of compliance Elaine Campbell said in a statement.

“However, it’s important to remember that companies issuing securities through crowd funding services require less disclosure than companies listed on the registered exchange, NZX. 

“Typically, these companies will be at a much earlier stage in their existence than listed companies, so their financial track record and business prospects will be much less clear.”

Snowball Effect will launch its services in the week of August 11, offering investors shareholding stakes in craft brewery Renaissance Brewing.

Renaissance Brewing is looking for $600,000-$700,000 in new funding to expand its Marlborough operations and try to break into the international market.

It is offering 300,000-350,000 shares (minimum purchase 250 shares) at $2, valuing the company at $5 million and representing 12.28% equity if fully subscribed, according to Snowball. The initial offer period is for 30 days.

Equity crowd funding is already proving popular with fledgling companies looking for a leg-up.

More than 200 companies have contacted Snowball about raising capital and the team is actively working with 14 businesses to bring them to market in the coming months, Snowball co-founder Simeon Burnett said in a statement.

The company hopes to open up the high-growth small and medium sized business sector to investors, without brokerage fees.

Internationally, equity crowd funding is recognised for opening up new opportunities for smaller businesses to raise capital for growth. It is also a way to offer a more innovative form of investment to the public.

While the FMA will monitor the newly regulated equity crowd-funding environment, investors should remember to “do their homework” as these are higher-risk investments, Ms Campbell said.

Companies listed with PledgeMe and Snowball do not have to provide a product disclosure statement, but the crowd funders are required to provide information about its service and the risks of investing through the service to investors.

PledgeMe co-founder and chief executive Anna Guenther said it is New Zealand’s biggest project crowdfunding platform, and has raised $2.5 million to fund 640 projects in the past two years.
PledgeMe has been working with a number of companies ready to start equity crowdfunding and will launch their campaigns on August 15, she said. 

More by Calida Smylie

Comments and questions

Interesting that Snowball is leading with Renaissance Brewing as Rippr was claiming it would be first in NZ. Renaissance seems like a much safer start.

Will be interesting to see the data on the craft beer coy. Post rights issue MOA will have a $20m value with at least $5m in the bank.

These guys will be valued at $5m with maybe $750k at best.

Why do people in the beer market think you can successfully export. It is a glass bottle and water.

$750k is not going to do anything internationally they will blow the money before they know it.

But if the new capital is raised at a ridiculous price then the company is probably less concerned?

And your answer re exposts: because their egos are larger than their common sense!

We've been exporting water and sunshine in the form of milk powder for a while and doing ok

Because the buyers cannot make their own. We also do it in the form of a dried product, maybe these guys are doing a powdered beer, otherwise glass and water is heavy and takes up space ----- that is costs a lot to ship.

So unless you can get a massive premium not viable.