The bestowal of the special crowdfunding award at CeBIT was a big success. Why did we do it? Because even the best idea or the most innovative product does a startup absolutely no good if it doesn’t get out there, to the people. It takes money to get the word out. And financial means aren’t always easy to come by, especially considering the ever-increasing demands associated with implementing new technologies. In fact, preparing market-ready products eats up much more of startup budgets today than it did just a few years ago. It has been getting more and more difficult for small, young companies to get their hands on the capital needed to see their ideas take off. We wanted to introduce our finalists to a new topic, and show them yet another way to find potential investors: crowdfunding .
Crowdfunding describes the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. It can also refer to the funding of a company by selling small amounts of equity to several investors.
A lot of people asked us how this cooperation came about. We wanted to offer our finalists the opportunity to familiarize themselves with crowdfunding opportunities. That’s why we turned to Jens-Uwe Sauer. He was a member of the CODE_n jury in 2012, and, as Founder and CEO of the German crowdfunding platform, Seedmatch, he brought a world of expertise to the table. Just what we needed for our little endeavor.
Working together, we came up with the idea of hosting a live crowdfunding event, right at CeBIT. According to Jakob Carstens, Head of Marketing at Seedmatch, the winners were selected according to very specific criteria:
“In our selection of the startups for the special crowdfunding award, we sized up the finalists as we would any other company at Seedmatch: Is their idea exciting? Is their approach dynamic, innovative, and will it win customers over? We looked at all of the startups that applied for the award through the lens of these criteria. Then we assessed whether the numbers added up and the team was a good fit. In the end, we went with Changers and Carzapp, two candidates ideal for receiving a business jump start.
The strong turnout at both of these startup stands at the trade fair was a good indication that we picked the right winners. After all, there was a reason why Changers stood out in the eyes of the highly expert CODE_n jury: a completely new product with a groundbreaking design combined with a social approach to the megatrend known as the transition to alternative energy sources. Changers is revolutionary, and most revolutionary ideas need just a little longer to convince the masses of their usefulness.
Carzapp, the innovative approach to private carsharing, didn’t just attract Dr. Philipp Rösler’s attention. It also put a lot of effort into its trade fair appearance: Many Carzapp investors got all the information they needed at CeBIT and then invested from home. The team has an ambitious business model and serves a topic that’s right at home in Germany: cars. Even representatives from pretty weighty industrial corporations were pleasantly surprised by the ingenuity of the idea. They were sure the patent-pending solution Carzapp presented was ‘technically impossible’.”
Anyone who would like to learn more about current crowdfunding initiatives and the funding status of these two startups, or anyone looking to become an investor themselves, should visit the Seedmatch site. (The information on the site is only available in German, since Seedmatch only hosts crowdfunding projects in Germany. We recommend that all interested English speakers check out the American crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo).