Proceedings of the High-level Workshop on Crowdfunding and Web-entrepreneurship

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These proceedings summarise the main discussions and recommendations of the Startup Europe Crowdfunding Network workshop held on the 4th of June 2013. It offers a high level view of the shortcomings of the crowdfunding sector in Europe with a view to enable crowdfunding me a key funding instrument for web-entrepreneurs.

Published by: European Crowdfunding Network AISBL

Editor: Oliver Gajda

Contributing authors: Guillaume Desclée, Ronald Kleverlaan, Iwona Mertin, Birgit Sanders, Irene Tordera, Benoit Vandevivere , Karsten Wenzlaff, Raf Weverbergh

Contributors: Abel Erwteman, Albin Bronkhorst, Alex Raguet, Andreas Bogk, Arun Nanda, Benoit Vandevivere, Christin Friedrich, Daniela Castrataro, Emma Fau, Fabien Risterucci, Frits Klaver, Jeremy Blimbaum, Jose Nebot, Jose Carlos Vallecillo, Karol Król, Konrad Lauten, Leo Hannes, Leonid Exter, Lia Chiara Miccichè, Luc Colebunders, Maarten de Jong, Marco Heidelberger, Maria Panattoni, Marijn van Oosten, Mary-Ann Awa, Michael Eis, Olaf-Gerd Gemein, Pascal Dray, Peter Baeck, Philippe Dardier, Piotr Pogorzelski, Reinhard Willfort, Rene Scheenaard, Robin Slakhorst, Roeland van Dijk, Stijn Janssens, Tasso Heijnen, Wim Amels

The workshop was held with support and contributions of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology and with contributions from the Directorate General for Internal Market and Services.

The workshop for web entrepreneurs, crowdfunding platforms and stakeholders was organised under the remit of the Startup Europe initiative of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT) under the title: “High-level Workshop on Crowdfunding and Web-entrepreneurship”. The European Crowdfunding Network and WEBclusive were asked to organise this workshop with specific focus on web entrepreneurs. The focus of the workshop was supportive of the European Commission’s Digital Agenda, which has prioritised the goal to strengthen the environment for web-entrepreneurs in Europe, to increase the number of web start-ups and support their growth.

The workshop aimed to discuss and identify issues affecting the growth of web start-ups across Europe, the prospects for increasing pan–European access to crowdfunding for web-entrepreneurs and ways of fostering stronger and more competitive European crowdfunding brands. The focus was on a dialogue between the crowdfunding industry and web start-ups in order to identify how needs and expectations can be addressed in the best possible manner and in order to produce actionable results as much as in forward looking statements.

Networking European crowdfunding platforms around a common understanding of the industry is vital. Only with a crowdfunding environment that is marked by professionalism, transparency and coherent practices, it can be expected that potential crowd funders and web entrepreneurs will regard investment opportunities and access to finance through crowdfunding as a viable solution for their needs. The education of both, the crowdfunding platforms as well as funders and entrepreneurs is therefore a key part of this paper and the forthcoming actions under the Startup Europe Crowdfunding Network.

The six workgroups where facilitated by experienced professionals and academics and covered the following topics:

  • Side Benefits of Crowdfunding, facilitated by Irene Tordera, Maastricht University (the Netherlands). The overall question was how crowdfunding might help with market and business model validation, pre-sales, marketing or pricing web services and products.
  • Crowdfunding as a realistic financing alternative, facilitated by Benoit Vandevivere, Secured Assets (Spain). This group discussed how crowdfunding might be able to help close the funding gap for pre-seed and seed start-ups, while innovating new ways of funding but also create deal flow for business angels and venture capital.
  • Communication for crowdfunding platforms, facilitated by Raf Weverbergh, Whiteboard Magazine (Belgium). The information needs of entrepreneurs with regard to crowdfunding were at the centre of this workgroups focus, discussing crowdfunding platforms responsibilities in providing transparency.
  • Scaling up across Europe, facilitated by Guillaume Desclee, MyMicroInvest (Belgium). The main focus was on how crowdfunding platforms can develop pan-European reach, both for investors and entrepreneurs.
  • Open data and transparency, facilitated by Karsten Wenzlaff, Ikosom (Germany). This group was asked to develop an approach to industry transparency and trust with regard to consumer protection and general public data provision.
  • Cooperation with public bodies, facilitated by Iwona Mertin, EUROCHAMBRES (Belgium).  The focus of this workgroup was on how different public stakeholders can help in supporting the development of crowdfunding. Regulatory questions were excluded from the discussion.
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