In practical terms (and for the purposes of this article) the 'innovation space' refers to:
- Early Stage Companies / Start-ups
- SMEs seeking to expand
- Pre IPO companies
- More establishing entities seeking to capital raise; and
- Recently listed companies.
As WOB is becoming active across these networks and we thought it timely to provide an overview:
- An angel investing group which targets entities with female founders who wish to move from founder funding to next stage of funding. Assists companies with funding, mentoring and providing directors to its companies. Operates with a list of members (mostly women seeking to support female founders) of which I am one. Good opportunities for women who are seeking to add their support to female founders, access advisory entity roles and look for angel investment opportunities.
- WOB recently became a member of the IPO network – a group of professional service providers who assist businesses to prepare and execute their exit strategy and provide support for listed companies beyond their IPO. This network will shortly be posting board vacancies with WOB and has a strong relationship with graduates of WOBSX.
Australian Investment Council
- The voice of private capital in Australia. Formerly known as AVCAL, members of AIC partner with businesses across every sector of the market to help them grow, while supporting their local communities and creating new employment opportunities. WOB members taking part in the WOBSX program recently had an opportunity to attend the annual AIC Conference and promote themselves as candidates for board roles to an often opaque sector.
- A publicly available crowdsourcing platform focussing on retail companies seeking next stage funding. Currently being used by Charley’s Chocolates (of which I am Chair and an investor) to raise equity for next stage growth. See my case study below for those who are interested in the process.
Charlies’ Case Study – Crowd Sourcing for Equity
Crowd Sourcing for a Cause (eg, support a charity to fund a new playground, send a team to a sports competition or enable someone to have major surgery) has been around for some years. However, the capacity to raise funds was quite constrained as it relied on people connection to the cause and goodwill.
A useful variant on this model is Crowd Sourcing for Equity. Legislation was passed in mid-2018 enabling this under the regulation of the ASIC. Companies seeking to set up crowd sourcing platform for equity raising need an Australian Financial Services Licence – so have to overcome this hurdle in the first instance. Hence there are a limited number of Crowd Sourcing for Equity platforms. I would think the first mover advantage will enable success for early players. Perhaps they need directors!
Charley’s Chocolates is an example of a business that is using crowd sourcing to raise equity funds for expansion. Charley’s is typical of the companies on the Birchal platform.
The process for getting your company on the platform is quite sophisticated, being a mix of:
- Marketing materials, such as podcasts, webinars, information packs etc
- Pre launch expression of interest documents
- Social media initiatives to identify potential investors off the back of the EOI process
- Launch of campaign to general audiences
Using Crowd Funding for equity is not for the faint hearted with a number of documents, multi-media and other materials to be developed, paid for and signed off as per ASIC requirements. A good way to understand this is to express interest in one of the companies going through the process. Charley’s is one of these retail companies at www.birchal.com.au, but there are others such as craft breweries, innovative energy providers etc.
Take a look and give it a try. You will learn a lot. And Charley’s would be delighted if you respond to our campaign and decide to become a shareholder.
Declaration: WOB Chair Ruth Medd is a shareholder in and Chair of Australian Chocolate Pty Ltd (Charley’s).