Crowdsurfer: Mapping the Crowdfunding Universe

By Tracy Moran, June 4th, 2014,

A problem shared is a problem solved. That’s the theory behind crowdsourcing — people coming together to respond to demand for just about anything, from financial services and labor to information sharing and materials. A subset of that, crowdfunding — any finance that’s been aggregated online — is an exploding online marketplace that rang up a whopping $5 billion in transactions last year.

There’s just one problem: Opportunities in this “crowd economy” are growing at such a fast clip in number and variety that data analysis has lagged, leaving investors and industry wading into uncharted territory. As crowdfunding expands — revenue could hit $100 billion by 2018 if the annual doubling continues — the need to make sense of the trend grows along with it.

Emily Mackay, founder of Crowdsurfer, a startup based in Cambridge, England, knows that “we need some way of navigating, indexing and categorizing this new world.” So she and her team are building a global Bloomberg-like data aggregator for crowdfunding and peer-to-peer finance. She likens the situation to when Yahoo entered the Internet: Lots of information, no roadmap.

It’s like saying, ‘Here’s all the stock markets, but there’s no Bloomberg — go for it.’

e0b6_53aa

 

Crowdfunding transactions range from peer-to-peer loans and business loans to charitable donations, shares, equity and even rewards. Name most any type of transaction and crowdfunding’s available for it; even mortgages and insurance, staples of the old economy, are cropping up to enable those who need funds to sidestep banks while allowing investors to enjoy higher returns.

Many know the popular crowdfunding sites — Indiegogo, Kickstarter, Rockethub — but there are nearly a 1,000 others (excluding China), with a new one coming online each week. Investors are flocking to them to check out new investment opportunities in products ranging from 3-D pens to space rockets. But they’re dipping into a vast new pool without floaties.

Online investment fundraising platforms are so new that they’ve had no aggregator, like an online money supermarket or a hotels.com-style site offering data analysis for crowdfunding and peer-to-peer finance. Without expert analysis to drive decisions, investors, financial institutions and in some cases industry are unsure how to seize emerging opportunities.

“It’s like saying, ‘Here’s all the stock markets, but there’s no Bloomberg — go for it,’” Mackay says.

With such a swell of information to navigate, investors could easily get swamped. “Our main aim is to be the de facto big data authority for the crowd economy,” she explains.

Mackay and her team pull all the relevant analytics data from the crowdfunding platforms, in some cases contracting with the sites to obtain the information. The team is forever data engineering and drawing new information as additional platforms and opportunities emerge.

Crowdsurfer, which launched in 2013, can be used in one of two ways. For the average investor or startup, its extensive search directory — currently undergoing maintenance — lists all of the available crowdfunding platforms by category, allowing browsers to find the projects or fundraising platforms they want to use (email hello@crowdsurfer.com for more information). But that’s just the “tip of the iceberg,” MacKay says.

Our main aim is to be the de facto big data authority for the crowd economy

Crowdsurfer’s real charm is its ability to distill volumes of data in response to specific questions from clients, whether it’s a major financial institution or individual investor, with private, customized data dashboards.

Most of the company’s current interest is from larger institutions that can afford the ticket price for a bespoke dashboard. Banks, which are being increasingly cut out of their traditional loan and financing roles, get detailed data showing how this is happening and in what volumes, while highlighting where they’re being threatened geographically. The data can also tell firms where they should be looking “to partner, launch or acquire a similar kind of business,” in a bid to stay ahead of the competition, Mackay explains.

Businesses seem to agree. “Crowdsurfer’s dashboard can help corporates identify trends in what the consumer markets are really prepared to back,” says Rich Wilson, CMO of Relative Insight, a firm that helps brands leverage language and data. “Using data to inform an innovation or investment strategy is a must-have these days, and cuts the time spent guessing.”

Based in Cambridge’s tech cluster — aka Silicon Fen — Crowdsurfer is still in pre-revenue prototype mode, though it already has several undisclosed high-level clients, including major financial institutions and industry leaders. “We’ve got more clients than we can handle at the moment,” Mackay notes.

Mackay — a young mother who rides her bike to the outskirts of Cambridge each day — is what one English newspaper called a “startup Ninja,” having successfully launched and sold the U.K.’s first crowdfunding site for community-based renewable energy products. Originally self-funded off the back of her previous startup success, Crowdsurfer is quickly gaining backers, including experienced angel investors from London, Europe and the Middle East, but Mackay declines to reveal how much has been raised.

Using data to inform an innovation or investment strategy is a must-have these days, and cuts the time spent guessing

“We see huge value for investors, financiers, analysts and advisers worldwide in having access to a reliable, high-quality data dashboard,” says Alex Pitt, of Mustard Seed, anangel investing firm that backs Mackay.

Considering the size and growth of the market, it’s no surprise that others have set their sights on becoming the leading crowdfunding aggregator. Business Agent, for example, is raising funds in a bid to be the leading crowdfunding aggregator; the Crowdfunding Centre claims to offer real-time data and insights for crowdfunders and investors; and there are others. Mackay acknowledges the competition but says, “Crowdsurfer is by far the furthest ahead in terms of the data and computer engineering talent we have in Cambridge.”

“Add to that our protectable IP, experience of creating and exiting an online financial platform, and the caliber of our investors, and we’re simply well apart from the rest in creating the very highest-quality, collaborative finance data service.”

Crowdsurfer’s objective is to equip those chasing a piece of the multibillion-dollar crowdfunding action. Its primary focus is the business market, but Mackay hopes Crowdsurfer will eventually cast a wider net. Someday the data mountain could be manipulated to suit individual investors’ needs at a more reasonable price.

Mackay wants to “help the world navigate the vast crowd economy, so that we can all benefit.”

In other words, she wants to help them stand out from the crowd.

Tags: , , , ,

HEADLINE NEWS

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news [...]

GizmodoHasbro Is Getting Into Crowdfunding With an Insane Star Wars ToyGizmodoToday, Hasbro unveiled Haslab, which promises to basically be the toymaker's answer to Kickstarter, for diehard fans of its toys. The new crowdsourcing program is kicking off with one hell of a project: [...]

The IndependentFlorida shooting: Crowdfunding page set up for victims' families raises more than $750k in just one dayThe IndependentMourners stand during a candlelight vigil for the victims of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida on 15 February 2018 [...]

Radio TodayWirral Radio launches a Crowdfunding pageRadio TodayWirral Radio has launched a Crowdfunding page after listener reaction to the closure of the station. Bosses have been holding crisis talks with private investors and businesses after making the announcement last Friday tha [...]

PolygonSystem Shock's massive setback proves everything in crowdfunding is a gamblePolygonNightdive Studios' reimagining of System Shock, which raised more than $1.35 million on Kickstarter against a $900,000 goal, seemed like a sure thing. It had the support of big names in [...]

STLtoday.comSt. Louis Economic Development Partnership launching crowdfunding platformSTLtoday.com“There is definitely a cost to do doing a (securities-based crowdfunding) offering,” Kitzi said. “I don't know if it's prohibitive for everybody, but it is not de minimis.” Stil [...]

ForbesConsidering Crowdfunding? 16 Ways You Can Fight Back Against CopycatsForbesI'm referring, of course, to crowdfunding. What an absolute game-changer. Thanks to the success of sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, the crowd can vote with its wallet now. There are enormous ben [...]

Super Bowl Commercials Teach Important Lessons For CrowdfundingForbesCrowdfunding videos are at heart commercials for a campaign. The video that drives a crowdfunding campaign has always been an important part of a campaign. The standard for what makes an acceptable campaign video is [...]

Syfy WireCrowdfunding Creators: Alfred Hitchcock, drag queens, and a lifetime supply of fake bloodSyfy WireWelcome to SYFY WIRE's Crowdfunding Creators, a series that highlights original work by artists looking to make their way in the world on sheer talent and the kindness of st [...]

An introduction to crowdfundingLexologyUnder article 36H of the RAO, loan-based crowdfunding became regulated as the “activity of operating an electronic system in relation to lending". Under this provision, online platforms facilitating loan-based crowdfunding between two indivi [...]

CFB Finance

Marketwired

  • Crowdfunding
  • Crowdfund
  • Peer to Peer Lending
  • FinTech
  • Reg A+
  • Reg CF
  • Crowdfunding USA

Press Release

Live Crowdfunding .tv

What's Next Step in Regulation A+ JOBS ACTS Title IIII :L Interview : Steve Cinelli with Brian Korn Securities and Crowdfunding/Peer-to-Peer Lending Lawyer, Watch more video library | Conference | Interview | Campaign Showcase | Research | Education |