Seedrs is an online crowdfunding platform for startups, based in London and with offices in Lisbon, Berlin, Amsterdam and New York. I talked with CTO Ricardo Brizido to find out more about their origins, plans, the startup world and, of course, Brexit.
In a nutshell, what is Seedrs?
Seedrs is a platform for investing in early stage businesses, connecting both ends of the market, investors and entrepreneurs. We let investors buy into businesses they believe in and share in their success, and on the other end we let early stage companies raise capital and build their communities.
How important is it for startups to get the initial push you provide with your platform?
For early stage businesses, I think it is becoming a disruptive way to fundraise. A few years back startups tended to raise capital directly from angels or VCs and what we have been doing is opening another set of possibilities by allowing them to have access to a community of investors that traditionally didn’t have access to this asset class.
What is a good argument for people to invest in the startups featured on Seedrs?
It is a unique opportunity to invest in exciting and unique early stage businesses – the ‘next big thing’, which traditionally the retail investor simply couldn’t access. If you could have invested in Snap or Deliveroo at the beginning, would you have? This asset class can produce returns that can vastly exceed any other asset class too – whilst there risk is high, the potential for big future yields is also a reason to consider early stage equity. Seedrs Portfolio is 14.4% IRR on a platform wide basis.
What is the biggest factor for a startup to succeed?
In my opinion the biggest factors are: Product, Traction and Team. You must have a great product, generated some traction to prove that your business can work, and perhaps most importantly of all you need to have a great team led by inspiring founders to execute and help the business to succeed.
Can you talk a little about your immediate expansion plans?
We are working hard to solidify our presence in the UK, but also continue our expansion across Europe and into North America, where we’ve seen really positive signs. We now have offices in Lisbon, Berlin, Amsterdam and New York and this highlights our ambition to be a world leader in this space.
What success stories have you witnessed on Seedrs and would like to tell us about?
This is a very personal view, but excites me to see companies like WeSwap, Perkbox or Den (amongst many others of course) which are unique within the space that they sit and involve their big communities in this stage of their growth.
If you weren’t working on Seedrs, what would you be working on?
It is difficult to say, but a decent amount of my career has been spent in the Travel and Hospitality industry, specifically travel and hotel search online products across the globe. I find the rise of marketplaces for all sorts of verticals especially fascinating, but particularly in the financial space, hence why I was inspired to join Seedrs so I would say that probably would still be working on an online marketplace.
How will Brexit affect your business?
Whilst we were firmly in the remain camp and Brexit is the wrong decision for Britain, we don’t expect it to have a material impact on Seedrs. We are confident and hopeful that a sensible deal can be reached and that Britain will remain the fintech hub of the world. Regardless of Brexit, we will continue our aggressive pan-European expansion, and if we find that talent, deals and/or capital becomes more available on the continent, we have the flexibility to shift more of our business out of London as necessary.
Can we expect to see more Portuguese companies on your platform?
We are doing a good job in Portugal by working on the ground with Portuguese entrepreneurs. As a portuguese, I must say that Portugal changed significantly since I left the country in early 2008 and I’m truly impressed with with amount of entrepreneurial initiatives I see happening. Portugal is a small market in contrast to the UK or US, but we’ll keep our presence there and support portuguese companies as they raise capital in their early stages. Just last month we announced a unique co-investment partnership with Portugal Ventures, where the latter will match the funds raised for portuguese companies on the Seedrs platform.
Find out more about Seedrs at https://www.seedrs.com/