Equity crowdfunding platform Equitise launched in New Zealand on Friday, with one startup seeking to use the platform to raise $350,000.
The launch comes shortly after the startup closed a $500,000 funding round, led by a venture capitalist from Sydney. Equitise co-founder Chris Gilbert told StartupSmart he expects a larger funding round to follow later this year.
“Over the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of my time in New Zealand getting Financial Markets Authority (FMA) licence – the FMA being New Zealand’s main financial regulator. Before Christmas, we obtained our FMA equity crowdfunding licence,” Gilbert says.
“The New Zealand launch went live this morning, and we’ve had the first people validating their business ideas through the platform.”
The first company to use the platform is tourism travel guide Tourism Radio NZ, which had revenue over $950,000 in 2014. Gilbert says it has already secured $50,000 in funding and is seeking to raise $350,000, having already secured funding from a high-profile New Zealand-based angel investor.
The second deal, set to go live in the coming days, is an Auckland-based biotech business working on cystic fibrosis. It’s already raised $1 million and is looking to raise $2 million.
Equitise relocated from Sydney to New Zealand, where equity crowdfunding legislation is already in place, rather than wait for legislation to be implemented in Australia.
There was concern that Australian legislation might not be implemented until next year, but progress has quickened. Gilbert says equity crowdfunding legislation in Australia is starting to take shape, and he has been spending time with parliamentarians discussing the reforms.
The consultations included a round-table meeting involving ASIC, Treasury officials, Small Business Minister Bruce Billson and six or seven platform providers. Treasury is in the process of gathering submissions as to what the legislation should look like.
While there are still intricacies of the reform to iron out around investors and capital, Gilbert says the reforms are on track to be implemented sometime around the middle of this year.
“The federal government has been supportive since it has become aware of equity crowdfunding as an issue, and I’m confident we’ll see changes soon,” he says.