Maarten de Jong, the Managing Director for Oneplanetcrowd, a crowdfunding platform for social or sustainable projects shares his company’s story.
1. What inspired you to start Oneplanetcrowd?
Oneplanetcrowd was founded by StartGreen, a venture capital firm for sustainable (technological) innovations, managed by Coenraad de Vries and Laura Rooseboom. They saw crowdfunding was becoming increasingly popular in the world. Yet, there wasn’t an impact crowdfunding platform. Coenraad and Laura offered me the chance to set this up. Oneplanetcrowd was launched on Sustainability Day of 2012. Two years after, we’ve raised finance for more than 60 projects and built an active community of over 10.000 investors.
2. What is the business model of Oneplanetcrowd?
Oneplanetcrowd offers a flexible finance model: entrepreneurs can raise funding through presales of products, donation, loans and convertible loans with which an investor can acquire a share in an interesting startup. We charge a no-cure-no-pay success fee of between 5% and 7%, depending on the size of the project.
3. What challenges has Oneplanetcrowd faced?
We are a quality crowdfunding platform. Because of our background in venture capital, we take our screening process very serious. This means we put a lot of time in a thorough financial evaluation of entrepreneurs and their proposals. Especially if they choose the loan or convertible loan as a funding method, which can mean a higher return-on-investment for the crowd, but also involves more risks. As we are under the supervision of the Dutch regulator (AFM) we make sure that we meet the highest standards in screening and in informing our crowd of the risks involved. At the same time, we want to expand our business and be a lean startup, meaning getting more interesting projects online quicker. Ensuring our quality process and at the same time growing quickly, is a juggling act.
4. What’s ahead for Oneplanetcrowd?
Now that we feel we have a strong lead in impact crowdfunding in the Netherlands, it’s time for us to build towards a European leadership for sustainable and social impact crowdfunding. At the end of October, we’re launching in Germany. Germany is leading in terms of a sustainable mindset. Next is Scandinavia. We want to build the biggest impact community of investors that believe in positive change.
5. Where do you envision Oneplanetcrowd in three to five years
Our ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goal’ is that we are the leading global impact crowdfunding platform by the end of 2018.
6. What is your favourite Oneplanetcrowd ‘member’ story?
I love the WakaWaka story. WakaWaka Power is still one of the leading crowdfunding successes in the Netherlands, and they just now started a new campaign, raising their target amount within only 2 days. WakaWaka is a great example on how to run a campaign. A good story and a cool gadget: a solar powered LED light plus phone charger, you buy one, and give one away to a family in a developing country where light is otherwise expensive and dangerous with kerosene candles. It’s about storytelling and social proof of your concept.
7. What is your advice to other startups in the sharing (or collaborative) economy?
Focus on getting your first success story. The first example of how your service worked for people. Celebrate it! Show it to the world and have it bring you to the next step!
8. What is your advice to traditional companies and corporations?
Don’t underestimate the power of your customer base. Use crowdfunding and -sourcing to for example test a new product or service. Ask the crowd for their opinion. Use the crowd in your decision making. Being transparent – and even vulnerable – will make you really involve and connect with your customers.
9. Why does the sharing (or collaborative) economy have the future?
It’s a new way to drive the economy forward, with better use of each other’s stuff and skills. Business models that actually promote a better product chain, built on longevity, focus on using instead of buying, cradle-to-cradle cycles instead of waste-inducing cycles, that is what I believe in. Making better products, that will stand the test of time and reduce the burden on our natural resources and our CO2 footprint.
10. What is a final insight you’d like to share with us?
Actually the answer to the previous question can also be a lot simpler: all these human interactions, facilitated by sharing economy companies, make people meet new people. That’s the fun of the sharing economy, and that’s why it grows so rapidly and has the future