The following guest post is by equity crowdfunding expert David Drake, founder and chairman of LDJ Capital, a New York City private equity firm, and of The Soho Loft, a global financial media company with divisions in conference and publishing.
Crowdfunding has been changing the financial landscape of Italy since late March. That’s when the Italian Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa (CONSOB), the equivalent of the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US, submitted equity crowdfunding for public commenting in Italy.
The CONSOB was tasked by the Ministry of Economic Development (“Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico” or MSE) to issue the applicable regulatory provisions for the implementation of the “Decreto Crescita Bis” or the Italian “Growth Act 2.0” bill.
And now leading the Italian pack are the following equity firms:
1. DeRev – A social media platform to that provides all the tools and information to bring projects (referred to as “revolutions”) into fruition. Innovators can create options to test a product/service are provided a complete toolkit to amplify ideas from bottom-up. In August 2012, DeRev closed a deal for an early-stage investment of €1.25 million. DeRev is based in Naples.
2. Siamosoci – Based in Milan, it allows unlisted companies to raise capital from private investors to finance growth through innovation. The platform facilitates the creation of investment groups called “club deals” and lets investors access all the information they need to independently assess and select companies on which to invest in.
3. CrowdfundMe – Newly launched, CrowdFundMe is an equity-based crowdfunding site. The site will directly bring together entrepreneurs and investors free of any cost. The company is based in Milan.
4. WeAreStarting – It is an online platform for equity-based crowdfunding for the Italian market. WeAreStarting was founded with the aim to give visibility to entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas, allowing them to launch startups, as well as to grow and develop it, by leveraging small investments from everyone. WeAreStarting was founded just this March 2013.
The next firms that follow are not into equities (yet), but at this point we see them as possible “contenders” in the equity arena should equity crowdfunding finally become legal in Italy and they decide to go in this direction as well.
5. Smartika – Based in Milan and formerly known as Zopa Italy, Smartika has been providing people to people credit since 2007 and its platform has been in operation since 2008. The company is led by Maurizio Sella, a well-known Italian internet entrepreneur. Lenders and borrowers get better rates that cost 25% less than if it was done through traditional banking means and lenders enjoy 6.5% p.a. interest rate after charges.
6. Boober – Originated in the Netherlands, Boober is a direct P2P lending marketplace where the interaction between borrower and lenders is more personal and social. To-date, Boober has funded €791,650 in loans with interest rates ranging from 5.50% to 16.00%.
7. Produzioni dal Basso – Founded in 2005, Produzioni dal Basso is the first Italian crowdfunding platform. It has built-up a large community of 32,000+ active users. Should they move into the equity crowdfunding space, they can possibly grab a significant share of the Italian market.
8. Eppela – A reward-based crowdfunding platform founded in 2011. Funding raised on the site go to the implementation of innovative projects related to art, technology, movies, design, music, comics, social innovation, writing, and non- profit. The user community also gets to vote on their favorite projects.
9. Kapipal – Founded in 2009, Kapipal is a donation-based crowdfunding platform for personal projects. They defined themselves as the first site to offer personal crowdfunding services absolutely for free.
10. Starteed – Based in Italy, Starteed is more than a crowdfunding site, it has white label solution allowing for the creation of a customized crowdfunding platform. Moreover, after you realize your idea, sell it on the Starteed e-shop, where in this case both creator and community can make money.
11. COM-Unity – Based in Modena and founded only this 2013, COM-Unity is a generalist crowdfunding platform owned by Bank Interprovincial SpA. The platform hosts projects of any kind, but with preference to humanitarian, social, cultural and scientific projects. Entrepreneurial initiatives can be accommodated, but only those with significant innovative content or cultural or social impact.
12. Prestiamoci – The first home-grown crowdfunder in Italy, founded in 2007 and then launched its platform in 2009, what makes Prestiamoci unique from its competitors is that they have built their own in-house P2P technology platform.
Andrea Albanese, a top social media and web marketing advisor, who is Community Manager of the largest Italian online association of Social MediaMarketing professionals, shared with us his discussion with Toni Marcelli, Analysis and Regulation Impact Officer at the CONSOB Regulation andStrategies Division.
“Taking into account the developments and experiences of other countries in crowdfunding, the proposed measures aim to regulate the activities of crowdfunding portals that facilitate the raising of capital by innovative startup companies while still giving small investors a substantially equivalent level of protection provided by intermediaries authorized to handle investment services.”
The public consultation period ended April 30. And it seems very likely that Italy will become the one to implement the first equity crowdfunding law in the world. But more is yet to be seen and we will keep you updated on developments in the Italian market. Viva Italia!
Incidentally, Mr. Albanese will be at the Social Media Marketing Day 2013 in Milan, Italy on June 27. One of the main topics to be discussed is on “Crowdfunding and the Relationships with Social Media and CommunityManagement Area.”