Funding

Open your eyes, look up to the skies: Rock music gave power to the people, and equity crowdfunding can too

Steven Maarbani /

equity crowdfunding

VentureCrowd executive director and Maarbani Consulting managing director. Source: supplied.

In 1975, British rock band Queen visited Roy Featherstone, who was chief of their record label EMI at the time, to play him the track Bohemian Rhapsody. Featherstone, one of the most experienced music executives on the planet at the time, refused to release the song as a single. He didn’t get it. It was too long. The public wasn’t ready for it, he decided.

Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, who wrote the track, took it to his friend Kenny Everett, a British radio DJ, who was famously first to air the track … 14 times over one weekend. 

The public loved it, and EMI was forced to release it as a single despite the apparent ‘wisdom’ of its senior executives.

Since then, well, you know the rest. But I love that track, so I’m going to tell you again.

After its release, it became a huge commercial success, becoming one of the best selling singles of all time. In 2004, Bohemian Rhapsody was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. By 2018, it had become the most-streamed song of the 20th century, having been downloaded 1.6 billion times. That’s billion, with a ‘b’ folks.

What does any of this have to do with venture capital investing? Two things.

First, I think its time to bring sexy back into venture capital. It’s always been a little dry, frankly. This year, let’s shake that up a bit and invest in great projects together while having fun and listening to great tunes at the same time.

Second, no matter what the ‘so-called’ investment experts think, the group that ultimately decides whether a company will be a commercial success or not is (drum roll please) … the consumer. It’s the market. It’s you, baby. (Yes, you.)

I know you don’t believe that yet, but you will. Here’s a little secret no-one wants you to know. In venture capital, all of the experts sitting around the investment committee table are desperately trying to work out what you think, what you will like and what you will buy. The thing is, I know someone who already has the answer to that question … you.

When the crowd decides they like something, there’s just no stopping that momentum.

In this brave new world of equity crowdfunding, the power has shifted. Consumers, everyday investors, you and I, can now participate in the growth of the businesses that we love. Not just by buying their products, but by actually investing in their businesses. We’re not waiting for Roy to tell us what we want anymore. We’ll tell him.

When the customers of a business are also investors in the business, the company has created the perfect commercial alignment. This engagement accelerates and deepens the most beautifully symbiotic relationship that can exist in economics, the relationship between a business and its customer base.

It is nothing short of a marketer’s dream. And that’s never really been possible before, but it is now.

Equity crowdfunding makes it possible for everyday people to invest in the businesses they believe in. Today, you and I can invest in early-stage high-growth businesses — opportunities once reserved for the super-rich and the highly connected — simply and efficiently on our phones in just three clicks, without having to be squillionaires. And that’s the way it should be.

After all, if consumers are the group making the business a success, why shouldn’t consumers benefit from the company’s growth? Equality of access, and power to the people. Simple.

Thanks for your help, Roy. You’ve been swell, but we’ll take it from here.

NOW READ: What’s the deal with equity crowdfunding, and should I do it?

NOW READ: Three misconceptions about the equity crowdfunding process, according to PledgeMe co-founder Anna Guenther

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Steven Maarbani

Steven is an executive director of VentureCrowd and managing director of Maarbani Consulting. He is a former PwC partner specialising in funds management and venture capital, and has advised on the establishment of many of Australia’s leading venture capital funds.

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