Amidst the chaos of a global financial meltdown, it can be easy to overlook certain aspects of banking that are less urgent. VC funding seems to have flown under the radar as of late, however, it makes a big difference for entrepreneurs who are looking for funding to jumpstart their new businesses. Sadly, it’s now at its lowest point in 10 years. Even with 2010’s first quarter $4.71 billion wagered on venture opportunities, the outlook isn’t rosy.
Enter Crowd Funding. Crowd Funding or “crowd financing” basically uses the power of the Internet to fund startup organizations. An entrepreneur who is searching for funding could seek pledges of small amounts to support the growth of her venture. Whereas traditional venture financing is generally limited to wealthy or “accredited” investors (think Caddyshack country club members making deals on the golf course), crowdfunding allows the average person to partake in the potential growth of a startup and at the same time benefit a small business.
Though bootstrapping sounds like a groovy dance move, it can be one of the more difficult means of generating money for a venture. But recently, certain companies are making entrepreneurs’ lives easier. The brilliant Jessica Jackley, cofounder of Kiva.org, is in the midst of starting Profounder.com, an online platform for entrepreneurs created to raise equity and debt financing via the internet. A recent venturebeat posting says that Jessica has the likes of Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn chairman, and Chris Larsen, CEO of Prosper, as advisors on this project so her team is not short of expertise in Web 2.0 and financing realm.
Other companies involved in crowdfunding have sprung up recently as well. One that seems to be setting the standard is kickstarter.com. On its website you will see an array of projects and the amount of funding it has raised to date. For example, you can finance a one acre rooftop farm in Brooklyn supplying fresh produce to local communities of New York City. How ’bout supporting an all-cartoon web based channel called Kaboing? Or supporting an organic snow cone business that already has 108 backers throwing in $2900?
With confidence in the markets slowly returning, the clean tech sector is seeing vast improvements in funding. In fact, the number of deals in cleantech were up 29% from last quarter and almost 85% from a year ago. Allowing small investors to partake in what otherwise have been limited to the ultra-wealthy would create a more fair playing ground in an otherwise unfair investment world