Deals

How to combine VC money with individual support in Chinese equity crowdfunding (interview)

Image Credit: Shutterstock

iChuangye, a Kickstarter-like crowdfunding service in China previously known as 5ichuang, today held its first-ever demo day to debut projects that are raising funds on the platform.

We got a chance to talk with CEO Gu Bing, who preferred to name himself as chief service officer of the site, since he consider his works as offering services to entrepreneurs and venture capitalist in an effort to bridge their demands.

Since its establishment in December last year, iChuangye has selected nearly 100 projects from more than 1,000 applicants to launch fundraising campaigns on the site. Two projects have finalized their campaigns on the platform, said Gu.

At the outset, the company defined neither the industries nor the development stage the applicants should be in, but project creators had to submit detailed introductions of their companies for accreditation. Most of the companies are in the preliminary stage of their development, and the fundraising amounts of projects on iChuangye range between 5 million yuan (around $800,000) and 20 million yuan ($1.6 million).

iChuangye model allows for individual investment only after institutional investors have thrown their weight behind a project, but individuals can enjoy the same investment provisions as institutional investors.

iChuangye adopts this model because it can protect the interests of individual investors to some extent. As Gu sees it, individual investors have their own insights in selecting projects with huge potentials, but their status does not grant them access to back-end data, which are accessible for institutional investors. More importantly, institutional investors will take over the tasks of project valuation, negotiation with the founding team of projects, as well as company operation after the funding.

So far for projects on iChuangye, financing from institutional investors has made up 80 percent of the total investments, but the site has plans to gradually lower this percentage if capable individual investors emerge. These individuals would fulfill the responsibilities of company operation, financial monitoring, etc., noted Gu.

According to him, the fundraising process will be a optimal channel to attract die-hard consumers, since the ideal individual investors of a company are also the potential users of these products and services.

As for its difference with other Chinese crowdfunding platforms, Gu said iChuangye is an equity crowdfunding service in which equity ownership in a business is given in exchange for investment capital, while DemoHour is transforming into a hardware pre-sale platform where users invest funding in a startup for its demoed product.

An interesting project pitched at the event is Chelaille, an app which updates commuters about real-time information on bus locations. The company has launched the service in more than 20 cities countrywide and has registered more than 1 million users.

This story was slightly modified from original Chinese text.

This story originally appeared on TechNode.