We Salute the BOLDest of the BOLD

We Salute the BOLDest of the BOLD

Shining a spotlight on BOLD and breakthrough projects in crowdsourcing, open innovation and related-technology sectors, the winners in 12 categories plus three special awards were announced at the inaugural annual BOLD Awards held on Friday April 5th.

We Salute the BOLDest of the BOLDThe prestigious international BOLD Award scheme was created by Crowdsourcing Week, which provides insight, information and events for the global crowd-economy-focused community. The event itself was organized and hosted by H-FARM, one of the most important startup business development and accelerator hubs in Europe and indeed the world.

The gala dinner presentation ceremony began with a tour around H-FARM’s campus just outside Venice, Italy. Crowdsourcing Week’s CEO Epi Ludvik and Emil Abirascid, Founder and Editor in Chief of Startupbusiness, opened and emceed the evening, during which Jose Luis Cordeiro brought the future close with his amazing presentation on Mind Value and Attitudes Toward The Future.

We Salute the BOLDest of the BOLDOver 300 initial nominations had been reduced to a shortlist of five nominees per category by online public voting. An international panel of judges, chaired by H-FARM’s co-founder Maurizio Rossi, then finalized the winners, thus combining the power of the crowd and hard work of exceptional individuals.

We offer our heartiest congratulations to the winners of each of the 12 pre-announced categories, with details of three added surprise awards that were made on the evening.

Boldest Crowdsourced Online Platform, presented by Mathesia: Mindhive – Bruce Muirhead

Boldest Crowdsourced Marketing & Advertising Campaign, presented by Tipalti: Rebuild Kerala – John Santhosh

Epi Ludvik of Crowdsourcing Week with Bruce Muirhead of Mindhive

Boldest Open Innovation, presented by H-FARM: Open Cosmos – Remco Timmermans

Boldest Space Frontier, presented by HeroX: Open Cosmos – Remco Timmermans

Boldest AI, presented by Spark Beyond: ScienceAtHome – Janet Rafner

Boldest Scientific Project, presented by sbv IMPROVER: ScienceAtHome – Janet Rafner

Boldest Crowdfunding Campaign, presented by Crowdsourcing Week: Startup Italia  – David Casalini

Boldest Blockchain Platform: Medicohealth – Milan Rajlic

Boldest ICO/Cryptocurrency: MakerDao & DAI Stablecoin – Lenka Hudakova

Boldest Future Robot, presented by HeroX: Vostok – Roberto Polesel

Boldest Young Achiever Under 25, presented by GoGo Places: Francesco Bellanca from Feral Horses

Boldest Innovator, presented by Surcle: Memomi – Alexios Blanos

And now the three additional surprise awards, which by their nature were not included in the first stage of public voting. They were as follows.

We Salute the BOLDest of the BOLDAn award for the BOLDest Government Digital Project presented to e-Residency Estonia was received by  Ambassador Celia Kuningas-Saagpakk. It recognises Estonia’s breakthrough as the first country to offer a government-issued digital identity and status. It allows non-Estonians to access Estonian services such as company formation, banking, payment processing, and taxation.

Maurizio Rossi, who was so instrumental in the success of the inaugural annual BOLD Awards, and is the Founder & Co-CEO of H-FARM, was recognised with a special award for Being BOLD.  To have created a truly unique and amazing hub like H-FARM helps us all to reimagine the future possibilities.

A third special award, also for Being BOLD, was made to Maria Ressa – CEO & Executive Editor at RAPPLER. RAPPLER is a social news network that crowdsources stories to inspire investigative journalism, community engagement and digitally fuelled actions for social change in Indonesia and the Philippines. Maria has been arrested twice, in February and March, on charges including “cyberlibel” after being critical of actions by the Philippines’ administration.

We Salute the BOLDest of the BOLDAfter the presentations the attendees networked and celebrated the winners’ success. What made their success something to be so proud of was the high quality of all the nominations that had been received at the start of this process. We thank everyone who submitted nominations, took part in the online voting, our international panel of judges, category sponsors, and all attendees at the ceremony.

A BOLD New Asset Class, For The Masses

A New Asset Class, For The Masses

We recently covered the benefits of equity crowdfunding from the perspective of the entrepreneur. It can be an excellent way for entrepreneurs to raise money, while gaining significant marketing exposure, and also solidifying their customer loyalty. It is for these reasons that equity crowdfunding has gained such popularity among company founders. Though there is another important angle to explore: that of the investors.

Equity crowdfunding means that ordinary people can gain a stake in venture-capital-like opportunities, even if they don’t have a net worth in the millions. Wealthy investors have long known the diversification and potential upside that comes through including venture capital in their portfolios. However, until the early 2010’s the vast majority of the general public were legally excluded from investing in early-stage, non-listed companies. Equity crowdfunding has changed all that.

Changes In The Law

Prior to legal changes (which happened at different points in different countries), the law dictated that companies could only promote an investment to individuals who passed a “sophisticated investor” or “high-net-worth” test. The only way it was possible to promote to the general public was to go through an initial public offering (IPO). IPOs are extremely costly, due to all the input required from lawyers and investment bankers – none of whom are cheap. It was therefore simply unaffordable for startups whose capital needs were more modest, in the $250,000 – $2 million range.

Early-stage companies therefore needed to go to angel investors, venture capital and private equity for the funds they needed. But the aforementioned legal changes have resulted in a set of rules that make it possible to raise limited amounts of capital under a reduced level of disclosure, rather than have to prepare a full prospectus. Now, any investor is able to use equity crowdfunding to evaluate opportunities and be their own judge of which companies are worthy of their hard-earned money.

A Different Investing Model

Equity crowdfunding requires a fundamentally different approach than most of us are used to. Rather than a stable annual yield such as from real-estate or bond market investing, equity crowdfunding (and venture capital) is all about investments which might disproportionately increase in value by 20x, 100x, or 1,000x… or perhaps become worthless. Most startups fail. But that’s what it’s all about – gaining exposure to companies before their prospects are proven: trying to pick “the next big thing.”

Here’s how the investing math could potentially play out – invest in ten equity crowdfunding opportunities at $2,000 each – an outlay of $20,000 (not an unreasonably large sum in the context of the average retirement portfolio across a lifetime). Eight of these companies completely fail, one of them is a moderate success and doubles in value, one of them is a large success and increases in value by twenty times. This would see the portfolio rise in value to $44,000 – a return of more than twice the initial outlay, despite a failure rate of 80%. This is the sort of outcome venture capitalists (and equity crowdfunding investors) hope for when they invest in many companies, fully expecting most will fail, but that the successes will be large enough to make up for the failures. What counts is the accumulated payoff, not the proportion of right and wrong.

Choosing A Platform

Equity crowdfunding platforms provide a marketplace for companies to list and for investors to discover them. The wisest general advice for investors is to stick with the larger, more established platforms. This is because the bigger platforms usually have invested in a stronger investor user experience, better due diligence around their deals, and tend to be the sites where the most attractive companies decide to list themselves. The best investment opportunities cluster around the biggest platforms.

The choice over the exact platform that an investor ought to use is a question of geography. Equity crowdfunding is an offer of securities, so they are governed by securities’ law. The practical consequence of this is that cross-border platforms are rare and there is no single platform which operates everywhere. For example, Crowdcube and Seedrs are two of the largest in the United Kingdom, while WeFunder and StartEngine are big in the United States. Investors need to do their own research on platform selection, depending on where they are based.

A Crowd-Sourced Investing Culture

One of the most exciting things about investing through equity crowdfunding is that it gives young, innovative companies access to finance, while also allowing everyone – of almost any level of net worth – to participate in the upside as they build the economy of the future. By building a closer connection between crowd and company, it flips the old customer/provider relationship, to become one of crowdsourced co-creation.

It all points to a seismic shift in the investing culture. When the masses can achieve a direct shareholding in startups, it is bound to lead to people taking their financial future into their own hands. Rather than sitting on “passive” stock index funds managed by professional money-managers, anyone can take an active role in deciding how they want their money to be invested.

Keep a close watch on the initial public offerings of the coming years. With more equity crowdfunding “alumni” now having had the time to use the money from their past campaigns to grow and expand, there is a strong possibility that the next wave of companies to list on the public markets will be able to point to their origins from crowd-sourced finance.

Author: Nathan Rose is the bestselling author of Equity Crowdfunding: The Complete Guide For Startups & Growing Companies. He has appeared at crowdfunding events all over the world. Today, he runs the website www.startupfundingsecrets.io, to help startups and growing companies to gain marketing exposure and raise investment money at the same time.

This Friday April 5 is our first BOLD Awards ceremony, being held at the H-FARM campus just outside Venice Italy. Next week we’ll post details of the winners in each of the 12 categories.