Klaus-Martin Meyer: Jeff, Germany is one of the crowdfunding markets with strong local player. Aren’t there any better markets for Seedrs to start with in Europe?
Jeff Lynn:Our focus at Seedrs is on building a fully pan-European platform, as we believe that equity crowdfunding has the most potential when it moves beyond national borders and creates a true cross-border capital market. You’re absolutely right that there are some great players in the German market, and we’re not looking to compete with them on fully German deals — if you are a German company looking solely for German investors, and you want to do things under German law using German language, we’re probably not for you. But if you’re a Germany company looking to draw capital from across Europe, and get the connection and support that come from an international investor base, then we offer something different from the local players.
Klaus-Martin Meyer: The German plattforms (the only exception is Bergfürst) offer loans to the crowdfund investors. How can you offer real equity? Will this require special legal constructions?
Jeff Lynn: We are authorised and regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority — a process that took us three years and an immense amount of work before we launched, and it’s because we have that authorisation that we are allowed to offer real equity. There are no „special legal constructions“ as such: part of our model is to act as nominee for the underlying investors, so that startups only have one legal shareholder to deal with, and investors can get the benefit of professional-grade investor protections, but that is done through a very legal entity that works the same across Europe.
Klaus-Martin Meyer: Have you already established contacts to the startup community here in Germany? When do you expect to launch the first pitch of a local startup?
Jeff Lynn: We have really just begun the process in the last few weeks. We’ve had great meetings and events in Berlin and Frankfurt, and as a result of those we’re talking with a number of startups who are looking for capital. I hope we’ll have our first German pitch live very soon.
Klaus-Martin Meyer: Seedrs already realized fundings of international european companies. Can you tell us something about your experiences?
Jeff Lynn: We have already raised money for Czech and Belgian companies already, and we have companies from a number of other European countries in the pipeline. So far the experience has been great, and if I could summarise one takeaway, it’s been that the communities around the entrepreneurs in continental countries have seemed to be even stronger than they are in the UK, meaning that we’re seeing more people in the entrepreneur’s extended networks backing them than we see in the UK. If that turns out to be true at a macro level, that’s very encouraging, and it means that equity crowdfunding may be even more effective in many continental countries than it is in the UK (where it is already proving hugely successful).
Klaus-Martin Meyer: Seedrs is an internatioal platform based in the UK. Have you also checked options to buy platform in one of the targeted international markets?
Jeff Lynn: It’s not something we’ve considered at this stage, but we’re always open to conversations!