Crowdfunding valuations 2016 – Did the crowd start to punish companies with too high valuations?

Two years ago I decided it was time to add a bit of rationale to the equity crowdfunding market in the Netherlands. Do the crowdfunding valuations make sense or are the so-called friends, family and fools really just friends, family and – literally – fools?

This is the third (and final) year in a row that I analyzed the crowdfunding valuations in the Netherlands based on data of the main crowdfunding platform Symbid. In the previous blogposts (2014a, 2014b and 2015) I concluded that the valuations have gone up in 2015, that I considered the average pre-revenue valuation high and that (too) high valuations could lead to funding issues later on.

But then again, what’s the value of a promise and who am I to decide if a startup priced too high? Only time can tell. Let’s look at some data first.

Data: Symbid
To find out what the crowdfunding valuation are, I looked at publicly accessible data from Symbid, the major equity crowdfunding platform in the Netherlands. Just like last edition, I collected Symbid data manually by browsing its website and searching its newsletter emails with upcoming crowdfunding campaigns. I excluded pledge, convertibles and one-off projects such as the movie ‘De Surprise’ from our sample. For 7 projects I did not have the data to calculate the valuation, resulting in a total research sample of 200 projects.

Crowdfunding valuations have again increased over the past year
The post-money valuation is – unlike previous years – not provided anymore by Symbid (why?) but the calculations are simple: post-money valuation = investment amount/ % of equity. The average investment amount and valuation of all Symbid projects are presented in the figure below.


The average project on Symbid raises, or tries to raise, €113k in return for 6.6% equity. This corresponds to a total (post-money) company value of €1.7 million (median: €1.1M). How does this compare to previous years?

The valuations have gone up. The figure below shows that the average valuation of the projects per year increased from €1.4 million before 2015 to €1.8 million 2015 to €2.1 million in 2016 (and across all years €1.7M as mentioned). This corresponds to an increase per year of 23%. The average investment amount also increased, from €101k to €128k, but less equity was provided in return (7.3% vs. 6.1%).


Interestingly, the valuations of the projects that were successful on Symbid (i.e. they raised 100% or more of their funding need) remained stable around €1.7 million in the last years. The average valuation of the projects that were not successful has on the other hand increased from €800k to €2.3M:


 Did the crowd start to ‘punish’ companies with too high valuations by not investing in them?

What I find interesting here as well is that the average valuation of unsuccessful projects with revenue is €2.5 million – higher than the €1.8 million of successful projects with revenue – and the valuation of unsuccessful projects without revenue yet is €920k – lower than the €1.5 million of successful pre-revenue companies. Perhaps, but I’m just speculating based on some projects I saw, companies with revenue that do not succeed on Symbid are too arrogant (“let’s see if we could raise the money for this price”) and the companies without revenue do not succeed because they are too cautious (“it would be cool if we could raise the money to start our business, let’s try”).

Companies with revenues have higher valuations
Within the Symbid sample, I made a distinction between pre-revenue companies (N = 75) and companies that generate revenues already (N = 91) (the revenue status of the remaining 41 is unknown). The result is presented in the figure below.


As expected, the companies that generate revenue have a higher valuation than pre-revenue companies: €2.1M and €1.4M respectively. These numbers haven’t changed much compared to last year. The investment amount is this year slightly higher for revenue companies compared to pre-revenue (€131k vs. €95k). Again, I am surprised by the high valuation (in my opinion) of the pre-revenue companies. The nature of these companies is very diverse, but they have one thing in common: no paying customers. Yet they value their promise at €1.4 million and get away with it in many cases.

This year I also found some data to put the valuations of companies with revenue in perspective. Constantijn Lurvink, a business economics student, studied the valuation techniques of the companies on Symbid by comparing the valuation of the successful campaigns with the outcomes of different valuation methods that they applied (e.g. DCF, venture capital method and scorecard method) to see which technique provided the valuation closest to the deal valuation. (His findings: a combination of techniques with certain weight factors provides most often the value closest to the deal value). Using his data and looking at the companies with revenue and a successful campaign (N = 40, so a subset of my dataset), and compare their projected revenue for the year following the campaign (to make it easier to find comparable data) with their valuation, we find that on average the multiple equity value/sales is 12.4x. Not bad.

Valuations are skewed around €750.000
In order to see what valuations are most popular, I made a histogram containing the frequencies of the valuations of the crowdfunding projects. 48% of the crowdfunding projects have a valuation of €1 million or less, 91.5% have a valuation of maximum €3.5 million. Most of the projects (17%) raise funding at a valuation of €750k to €1 million. The highest valuation, a little over €15 million, is from Solarus. The most extreme pre-revenue valuation is Only Once (4th round): a little below €8 million.

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Concluding remarks and thoughts
Compared to previous analyses, the valuations of equity-based crowdfunding projects have gone up. Companies with revenue raise on average at a valuation 12.4x their projected revenue. Companies without any revenue yet are raising or have raised (successfully) at an average valuation of €1.4 million. This sounds pretty optimistic to me and could have consequences in any follow-on rounds (i.e. no deal or downround, like I explained last two times). Obviously, the current equity stake of on average 6.6% will further dilute with every new equity round the company raises, resulting in a smaller slice of the pie for crowd investors than they might expect. But apparently there are enough friends, family and ‘fools’ that are willing to pay this price, so I guess these valuations are ‘market conform’.

This year we are probably going to see some crowdfunded companies that will cease operations. Not necessarily because their intrinsic business idea is bad but because that it just what happens with startups a lot. Aside from the crowd investors that will lose most or all of their investment, I can image that a larger number of crowd investors will get disappointed financially when the realized returns and/or their eventual ‘slice of the pie’, after sequential funding rounds, are below expectations. High valuations tend to lead to high expectations.

Like last year, I do hope crowd investors will sustain, even when some of their investments fail or disappoint. Therefore, I encourage investors to keep investing, not shy away from a rational approach (as well) if you aim for financial returns, and do challenge the crowdfunding valuation when you think they are too optimistic. Unfortunately, I noticed that both the explicit valuation and the challenge valuation button have been removed from Symbid. This doesn’t really contribute to the transparency I believe.

I also encourage entrepreneurs to really think through the next business steps, funding strategy (i.e. next financing rounds and dilution) and business risks, and be very clear and explicit about this in the project description. This especially holds for pre-revenue companies as they don’t have much to fall back on (yet) except for a well thought through plan backed by sound (financial and non-financials) assumptions.

This post also appeared on StartupJunctureGolden Egg Check’s blog. Header image is from Alejandro Alvarez.


A 2-Step Guide to Become a Successful Startup, and What Success Looks Like

So I came up with this 2-step guide to become a successful startup:

Step 1: Find a problem.

Step 2: Solve it.

Is it that simple? Yes and no.

Yes, because every successful startup solves a painful problem or fulfills a strong need of their customers.

No, because following this 2-step guide does not guarantee that your startup will become successful. You can follow it, and still fail. There are, however, some best practices for both step 1 and step 2.

Find a problem

Einstein once said: “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” I agree.

Spend most of your time to find and understand the problem inside-out. Engage with (potential) problem-havers a lot. You should — maybe — even fall in love with the problem. Because: the problem that you find at the surface is often not the real problem that you would want to solve. Make sure you dig deeper.

But don’t just go for any problem. Instead focus on the problems worth solving. To help you with this, the…

  • bigger…
  • more painful…
  • more urgent…
  • more consistent…
  • more common…

… the problem is within a certain target group, the better. These are the types of problem where money can be made.

Obviously, it would also help if the one with the problem also has the money to get it solved.

Solve it

Now that you focused on finding the right problem and know this problem very well, you just only have to solve it. Of course, this is easier said than done, but again there are some shortcuts that make this step a lot easier and quicker.

Let me explain.

I think of a good solution as a circle:

A round circle, to be precise. This represents a solution that on itself solves a problem. If you can close the circle, you have a solution. If you cannot close the circle (yet), you have a partial solution that just doesn’t make the problem go away. You either have (or will get) trouble selling it, or customers stop using your solution after a while, or you have to combine your incomplete product with (unscalable) services. Or all of the aforementioned.

So, an ideal solution is round whereas a partial solution is a concave function (I see it as a “U”-shape). You can either try to close the partial solution and make it a circle, or — and this is what happens often — you can try to increase the size of the circle before you try to connect the ends. In the latter case, the partial circle grows bigger and bigger — for example by adding more and more functionality to your product — making it harder and harder to actually get the circle round. It kinda looks like a messy patchwork that took too long to make, makes your solution less distinct and maybe even over-done.

Where the ideal problem is big, the ideal solution is small.

To keep the circle small, try to apply the Pareto principle: with 20% of your effort you want to realize 80% of the value for your customers. In other words, find an MVP that is really ‘M’ and delivers a solution to a real problem of real customers. Then think of ways how to monetize and scale your solution.

Problem-solution fit growth strategies

There are many types of problem-solution fits, but ideally you want to have a fit with the smallest viable solution for the biggest problem. Think big, but think small. From there on, there are two growth strategies, which could also be combined:

1) Grow your circle
2) Connect circles

Once you have a problem-solution fit, so a (small) circle that solves your customers’ problem, you can try to grow this circle while keeping it closed. This includes the remaining 20% of the Pareto principle but also optimizing the current solution (make it better, faster, stronger, etc.).

Also, you can start tackling another — but related — problem of the same customer segment. In this case, you start a new circle and follow the 2-step guide again. But instead of juggling two different stand-alone circles, it would be even better if you can connect them in order to utilize synergies of both solutions and have a more complete yet distinct offering. You can create a product that includes and interconnects multiple circles.

Therefore, to conclude, my visualization of a successful startup with a product with multiple problem-solution fits looks like this:

I also published this post on Medium.

Introducing the Amsterdam Startup Index: the ‘AEX for startups’

This post originally ran on StartupJuncture (with interactive chart), so go check it out there.

For the last year or so, I have been on a quest to find a way to measure and monitor the performance of startups. One of my trials resulted in the Amsterdam Startup Index; an index with the 25 ‘hottest’ startups of Amsterdam. In this blog post, I’d like to introduce you to this ‘AEX for startups’.

Just like the AEX, I selected 25 companies that together make up the index. Obviously, the selection for the Amsterdam Startup Index was not based on the market capitalization of the startups, but instead I chose Amsterdam-based startups that were founded in or after 2008 and raised at least €500,000 in or after 2013. From the remainder, I took the startups with the highest growth scores (see later on). This resulted in the 25 startups below (in alphabetical order).

The 25 startups included in the Amsterdam Startup Index

  • Adcrowd Retargeting
  • Afrimax
  • Cloakroom
  • Collaborne
  • Cupenya
  • Fairphone
  • Freenom
  • Hatch (Iceleads)
  • LookLive
  • Matchhamster
  • myTomorrows
  • Peerby
  • Pyramid Analytics
  • SkinVision
  • SocialSensr
  • StudyTube
  • Tiqets
  • Travelbird
  • Ubideo
  • VirtuaGym
  • Wercker
  • WeTransfer
  • Windcentrale
  • Yieldr
  • ZEEF

How we calculated the growth scores
It’s really hard to measure the progress of startups, especially from an external point of view, as most companies do not disclose information such as revenues (if any). We use the Growth Score that is developed by data company Mattermark as a proxy for the momentum of the 25 startups. Mattermark introduces the Growth Score as follows: “The Growth Score is a measure of how quickly a company is gaining traction at a given point in time. It incorporates the “[Mattermark] mindshare score” (web traffic, social traction) as well as business growth metrics (e.g. employee count over time, funding). The underlying assumption is that companies who see growth across these signals are shipping products and talking to customers, and are more likely to grow as a result.” You can check the data for yourself by downloading the (free) Mattermark iOS app.

Introducing: Amsterdam Startup Index
Since the beginning of this year I’ve been tracking the Growth Scores of the 25 selected Amsterdam startups. The result is presented in the chart below (interactive version here).

283.1 ↓4.7 (-1.6%)Schermafbeelding 2016-06-06 om 08.47.08.png

The chart is less real-time (a delay of 1 or 2 weeks) and less volatile than the AEX, because the scores are calculated on a weekly basis. The huge increase in the first two weeks of March is probably due to the $4 million funding that Tiqets raised attracted 7 March, which captured some (international) media attention.

The top five startups of last month are:

  1. LookLive (+12.1%)
  2. Afrimax (+10.6%)
  3. Peerby (+6.0%)
  4. WeTransfer (+1.7%)
  5. StudyTube (+1.6%)

Cool. Now what?
Wouldn’t it be cool if we could see how the Amsterdam or Dutch startup ecosystem evolves over time? If we could see if our startups are raising capital, if they are creating a fan base of customers, if they are gaining momentum?

There are several applications for a Startup Index like this that I have in mind. I can try to take the Amsterdam Startup Index to the next level, make a cool website and update the scores on a weekly basis. Maybe I can add startup analytics insights like RTL Z does for AEX companies (“the Amsterdam Startup Index is now below the psychological barrier of 300 points, because XYZ”), maybe I’ll try to convince BUX to incorporate the Amsterdam Startup Index in their app, maybe I can make the Utrecht or High Tech or Dutch Startup Index. Or I can quit this experiment and continue with my other startup analytics projects. I decided that all of this depends on if you, the reader, like this concept enough to justify putting more effort into this.

Startup analytics: no silver bullets
I’ve spent quite some time assessing tools that could help me to have better insights in the (Dutch) startup ecosystem. When it comes to startup analytics there are no silver bullets, but a combination of datasets and methodologies can result in valuable insights.

What I like about Mattermark’s Growth Score is that it includes most startups and makes it easy to monitor and compare them, and does so in a minimal invasive way, i.e. without bothering the startups. At the same time, there are some inherent limitations, such as only taking into account external signals (no internal metrics like revenue, no. of customers, gross margin, churn) and making no distinction between for example B2B and B2C companies (B2C companies are more likely to have a bigger ‘fan base’).

Furthermore, the weak point of the Growth Score is that, although Mattermark mentions the input factors, the actual calculation to get to the score is one big black box. Also, some past scores tend to change over time, which is strange and obviously an error. I wouldn’t attach too much value to the concrete numbers for that reason, but as an indicator (and especially on aggregated level like in the Amsterdam Startup Index) it has value in my perspective. I think the Growth Score is still a powerful indicator of growth and performance from an external point of view.

And that’s exactly how I designed this Amsterdam Startup Index; as an indicator of the startup ecosystem at best.

If you are curious about my other startup analytics projects, like the performance scores that we developed at Golden Egg Check based on internal key metrics, follow this blog or send me a message.

Zo beoordelen investeerders jouw startup (en zo hebben wij startups voor Startup50 Gelderland geselecteerd)

“Eerst de vent en dan de tent” is iets wat je misschien vaker hebt gehoord. Om de risico’s en het potentieel van startups te kunnen inschatten, gebruiken investeerders een (impliciete) checklist met criteria. De ‘vent’ is natuurlijk een belangrijk onderdeel van een startup, omdat een goede ondernemer een matig plan nog kan bijsturen. Maar welke criteria gebruiken investeerders nog meer?

Wij hebben met Golden Egg Check onderzoek gedaan naar de criteria die venture capital investeerders (VCs) gebruiken om startup en scale-up bedrijven te beoordelen. Deze VCs investeren per definitie in een risicovolle fase van een bedrijf, en maken daarom een inschatting van zowel de risico’s als de potentie van de startup; hoe groot kan dit bedrijf worden en wat is de kans daarop?

Toen wij een rondje deden langs vrijwel alle VCs in Nederland, van 5square tot Vortex Capital Partners, hebben wij hun investeringscriteria geïnventariseerd. Dit heeft geresulteerd in een overzicht van de 21 belangrijkste criteria die verdeeld zijn over 7 clusters.

Voor alle startups geldt; gebruik deze criteria in je voordeel om op de juiste aspecten van je startup waarde te creëren. Want ook als je geen investeerder zoekt, is het relevant om als ondernemer kritisch naar je eigen bedrijf te kijken. Grote kans namelijk dat je zelf de grootse investeerders in jouw onderneming bent!


Het gaat dus niet alleen om de ‘vent’ maar om het hele ondernemersteam. Zijn ze complementair aan elkaar, bijvoorbeeld een ‘hustler (CEO), hacker (CTO) en hipster (designer)? Als ze al eerder hebben samengewerkt en een succesvol trackrecord hebben als ondernemer, zijn dat zeker bonuspunten. Commitment is ook belangrijk, geen investeerder zit te wachten om in te stappen in een neven-projectje.

Opvallend vaak noemen investeerders ‘ambitie’ als criterium. Het team moet de juiste ambitie, visie en mentaliteit hebben om van de startup een succes te willen en ook kúnnen maken. Daarom is het kunnen uitvoeren van een goede (go-to-market) strategie, en oog hebben voor de belangrijkste risico’s, ook vaak essentieel.

Elke risico-investeerder stapt in met het doel om de participatie in waarde te laten toenemen en deze weer te ‘exitten’ voor (veel) meer geld. Daarom hechten zij zoveel waarde aan de (internationale) groeipotentie van de startup. Hieraan gekoppeld is een schaalbaar business model, want schaalbaarheid kan groei faciliteren.

De markt wordt door ondernemers nog wel eens overschat in omvang en onderschat qua moeite die het kost om er voet aan de grond te krijgen. Ondernemers die duidelijk weten wie hun klanten zijn, en die zich bovendien richten op een grote en groeiende markt, hebben een streepje voor bij investeerders.

Hoe ‘pijnlijker’ het probleem is dat een klant heeft, hoe groter de bereidheid om dit probleem op te lossen. Dit onderscheidt startups met een must-have product van startups met een nice-to-have gadget. Investeerders houden van duidelijke waardeproposities (10x beter > 10% beter). Marktvraag, bijvoorbeeld in de vorm van (eerste) klanten, toont aan dat de waardepropositie kan worden verzilverd.

Een duidelijke waardepropositie is mooi, maar een duidelijke waardepropositie die superieur is aan die van concurrenten en een duurzaam concurrentievoordeel biedt, is helemaal interessant. Hoe de waardepropositie te beschermen valt, verschilt per type bedrijf. Voor medtech en pharma startups is een patent vrijwel altijd essentieel, software bedrijven moeten op een andere manier hun momentum vinden en behouden.

Tot slot het financiële plaatje, en dat is meteen een paradox. Investeerders willen een interessant vooruitzicht zien, een mooie hockeystick-curve bij voorkeur. Maar: een financiële prognose is altijd lastig te geven gezien de onzekerheid van een startup. Om de hockeystick op waarde te kunnen schatten, hechten investeerders veel belang aan de aannames betrekking tot kosten (‘burn rate’) en opbrengsten die eraan ten grondslag liggen. Het is goed om een hockeystick-curve te laten zien, maar zorg wel voor een realistische onderbouwing. Uiteindelijk willen investeerders weer van hun participatie af, dus ook exit-potentie op termijn is wenselijk.

Toepassing in Startup50 Gelderland
Bovenstaande criteria hebben wij als Golden Egg Check team, en met hulp van experts in het Gelderse ecosysteem, gebruikt om de aangemelde en gescoute startups te beoordelen voor Startup50 Gelderland als onderdeel van Startup Fest Europe. Hierdoor hebben wij 200+ startups in twee rondes naar een top 50 voor het Startup50 magazine kunnen filteren. Dit magazine wordt op 25 mei, tijdens Startup Fest Europe, gepresenteerd.

Weten hoe goed jij scoort op deze criteria en hoe investor ready jouw startup is? Je kunt een gratis account aanmaken bij Golden Egg Check op

Deze blogpost verscheen ook in aangepaste vorm op Sprout.

Leestip: hoe bepaal je als startup de prijs van jouw product?

Je kunt dezelfde fles water verkopen voor €1 of voor €3. Voor beide prijzen is een markt te vinden, hoewel de klantsegmenten waarschijnlijk anders zijn. Maar hoe bepaal je de optimale prijs van je product of dienst? In het boek Lean Pricing – pricing strategies for startups, geeft Omar Mohout waardevolle methoden en strategieën die helpen om de juiste prijsstelling te bepalen.

Dit is erg nuttig omdat een prijsstrategie een van de meest onderschatte en tevens bepalende succesfactoren is van een startup. Jouw prijsstrategie (o.a. hoeveel geld er binnenkomt en wanneer) heeft direct invloed op je cash flows, en dus op je overlevingskansen en waardering van jouw startup.

Lean Pricing

Mohout, professor ondernemerschap in Antwerpen Management School en growth engineer, staat stil bij verschillende methoden en strategieën die helpen om de juiste prijsstelling te bepalen voor (SaaS) startups. O.a. ankerpunten (waaraan kun je je prijs refereren), value-based pricing, freemium en multi-axis pricing passeren de revue.

Het boek beschrijft de technieken, maar geeft ook praktische voorbeelden en vuistregels. Een voorbeeld van iets dat ik in de praktijk vaak tegenkom: stel jouw startup doet aan value-based pricing, wat inhoudt dat je een prijs voor jouw product kiest als deel van de waarde die jouw product voor de klant levert. Wat is dan een goed ‘deel’? Pak je 10% van de waarde die je creëert? 20%? 50% zelfs? Het boek stelt startups in staat om hier een antwoord op te vinden in plaats van het betere nattevingerwerk.

Alvast één gouden tip: als de enige negatieve feedback van (potentiële) klanten is dat ze jouw product of dienst te duur vinden, dan weet je dat je goed op weg bent met de juiste prijs!

Lean Pricing geeft een mooie mix tussen de meer economische, rationele benadering en de psychologische aspecten en perceptie die om de hoek komen kijken bij het bepalen van de optimale prijs. Want waarom denk je dat een startup vaak 3 typen pakket verkoopt (zo ook wijzelf)? En waarom denk je dat prijzen vaak het getal ‘9’ bevatten?

Hoeveel je ook leert over prijsstrategieën uit dit boek, de belangrijkste les blijft:

“Don’t over-engineer your pricing strategy and make it difficult to understand. It is important to understand that pricing is also a function of marketing, not something figured out with an Excel spreadsheet.”

Een mooie samenvatting staat inmiddels ook online (zie onder) maar ik kan startups, incubators en onderwijsinstellingen ook aanraden om de hard copy aan te schaffen. Hierin staan meer uitgewerkte case studies en concrete tips. Het boek is hier te bestellen.

Crowdfunding valuations in the Netherlands, what’s the value of a promise?

The crowdfunding market in the Netherlands has again doubled in size over the past year. According to last week’s press release of crowdfunding research company Douw&Koren, the amount of money raised with crowdfunding has grown from €63 to €128 million. At the same time, Douw&Koren says that 2016 will be the “moment of truth” for crowdfunding, as the growth rate seems to be stagnating.

Last year, I wrote a sequel of two blog posts about the valuations of equity-based crowdfunding projects in the Netherlands (read them here and here). My conclusion was that I though that the valuations seem to be high and therefore hold a certain risk with regard to follow-on investments. But since investors were willing to invest, I guess the valuations were as close to market value as they could get.

When I published the first edition of my analysis about crowdfunding valuations last year, the comments it got were pretty binary. Most of the responses – I reckon – were positive (“thanks for researching this”, “interesting results”, etc.) and some were (very) negative (“malicious”, “terribly researched”, etc.). Interestingly, the hostile responses all came from anonymous people or people with a clear interest in this topic. At forehand, I underestimated the level of explosiveness of this topic.

It didn’t stop me from doing the analysis about the crowdfunding valuations again, a bit over a year later. What are the crowdfunding valuations these days? In addition, I analyzed the most frequently offered valuations, which can be useful for startups thinking about raising equity investments by crowdfunding.

Data: Symbid
To find out what the crowdfunding valuations are, I looked at publicly accessible data from Symbid, the major equity crowdfunding platform in the Netherlands. Just like last edition, I collected Symbid data manually by browsing its website and searching its newsletter emails with upcoming crowdfunding campaigns. I excluded pledge and one-off projects such as the movie ‘De Surprise’ from my sample. This resulted a total research sample of 145 projects.

Crowdfunding valuations have increased over the past year
The post-money valuation is already provided by Symbid but the calculations are simple: post-money valuation = investment amount/ % of equity. The average investment amount and valuation of all Symbid projects are presented in the figure below.

Overall valuation

Projects on Symbid (excluding one-off projects) raise, or try to raise, on average €109k for a total company value of €1.6 million, which represents an average equity stake of 6.6%. How does this compare to last edition?

Continue reading “Crowdfunding valuations in the Netherlands, what’s the value of a promise?”

De bezem gaat nu door de groeistrategie van Helpling

Met veel bravoure maakte schoonmaakstartup Helpling bekend dat het binnen 171 dagen een multinational was geworden. In korte tijd was de Duitse startup actief in niet minder dan 14 landen, waaronder Nederland. Hoewel Rocket Internet – investeerder in Helpling – er sowieso geen geheim van maakt dat het hun strategie is om heel hard te willen groeien en marktleider te worden, blijft het een opmerkelijke prestatie.

Wat ik me af vroeg toen ik dit hoorde: hoe kun je in zo’n korte tijd een business model valideren? Was het niet zo dat de nummer 1 reden waarom startup falen is dat er te vroeg wordt opgeschaald? Het had voor mij wat weg van een ‘spray-and-pray’ strategie.

Afbeelding uit een presentatie van Helpling. Detail: Helpling had niet 171 maar slechts 134 dagen nodig om een multinational te worden want dat was het moment dat het bedrijf ook in Oostenrijk actief werd.

Continue reading “De bezem gaat nu door de groeistrategie van Helpling”

Crowdfunding Valuations in the Netherlands: Are We Crazy? Part 2

This post originally ran on StartupJuncture. Check out the lively discussion there, too.

How foolish are the friends, family and fools?
In the first post on crowdfunding valuations, I found that the average project on the Dutch crowdfunding platform Symbid raises €104k for a total company value of €1.4M, which represents an average equity stake of 7.5%. Moreover I described that it seems that the valuation is not a critical success criterion for raising crowdfunding money, concluding that maybe crowd investors don’t look at the valuation or don’t bother about it. The personal connection to a project might be a better reason to invest than investing to actually make money.

So, the average post-money valuation of all projects on Symbid is €1.4M (pre-money: €1.3M). How does this number compare to other valuations? Angellist, a website where ‘angels investors’ and startups can meet, says that in the Netherlands the average pre-money valuation is $2.9M (~€2.3M). This valuation is based on done deals but includes companies that raised second, third or even fourth rounds. In that sense, the sample of Angellist is not really comparable to the one of Symbid, as most projects on Symbid raise their first round.

Within the Symbid sample, I made a distinction between pre-revenue companies (N = 39) and companies that generate revenues already (N = 19). This ‘monetization status’ was not always explicitly provided by the company, so I made a rough estimate based on the description of the project and, if available, financial statements. The result is presented in the figure below.

Monetizing Status

As expected, the companies that generate revenue have a higher valuation than pre-revenue companies (€2.0M and €1.3M respectively). Interestingly, the investment amount is approximately the same for pre-revenue and revenue companies (around €100k).

Nota bene: the average valuation of pre-revenue companies that raise money via Symbid is €1.3M. €1.3 million! These companies barely made any money yet and still think they’re worth more than a million euros. Wow, that sounds almost like a bubble, doesn’t it?

Continue reading “Crowdfunding Valuations in the Netherlands: Are We Crazy? Part 2”

Crowdfunding Valuations in the Netherlands: Are We Crazy?

This post originally ran on StartupJuncture (with a lot of discussion).

How foolish are the friends, family and fools?

Friends, family and fools. That’s how we refer to the group of investors that is willing to put money in your startup business when the risks are high. How foolish are they? I analyzed the equity crowdfunding deals in the Netherlands to see if the valuations people are willing to pay are rationally explainable or emotionally nuts.

My hypothesis was that crowd investors are less sophisticated (i.e. less rational, calculated and in for the profit) and more willing to pay a premium price if they like the product or the vision of the entrepreneur, than professional investors. In other words, valuations of crowdfunding projects are expected to be higher compared to valuations of startups that are engaged with professional equity investors (such as business angels and venture capitalists).

To find out what the crowdfunding valuation are, I looked at publicly accessible data from Symbid, an equity crowdfunding platform in the Netherlands. (CrowdAboutNow, another platform that provides crowdfunding for equity, is not really transparent about the (implied) valuations of the projects so I didn’t include them in my research sample). I collected Symbid data manually, by browsing their website and searching their newsletter emails with upcoming crowdfunding campaigns. I excluded pledge and one-off projects such as the movie ‘Wiplala‘ from our sample. This resulted a total research sample of 70 projects.

Crowdfunding valuations are high
The post-money valuation is already provided by Symbid but the calculations are simple: post-money valuation = investment amount/ % of equity. The average investment amount and valuation of all Symbid projects are presented in the figure below.

Symbid Valuations

Concluding: the average project on Symbid (excluding one-off projects) raises €104k for a total company value of €1.4M, which represents an average equity stake of 7.5%.

Continue reading “Crowdfunding Valuations in the Netherlands: Are We Crazy?”

How Startupbootcamp and Rockstart Accelerator Compare – 2014 edition

Last week, both Startupbootcamp (SBC) and Rockstart announced their new ‘classes’ of startups for their Amsterdam based acceleration program. Just like I did last year, I made an analysis of the startups in order to find out how Rockstart and SBC would distinguish themselves from each other. Last year, my conclusion was:

Rockstart has more early stage startups, which have more of a B2C orientation. Compared to SBC, more Rockstart startups want to address or create new markets. The challenge for these startups lies in marketing and creativity, competences Rockstart is good at. Zazzy is the only startup that is in the new technology and new market quadrant, which could offer both risks and, at the same time, large upside potential.

The startups of SBC more often already have a product which generates revenue, and more frequently aim for B2B (sometimes in combination with B2C), which matches well with the corporate network of SBC. The startups make more use of existing technology and have less of an aim for new markets. Therefore, it seems that the risk profile of the SBC startups  is smaller than that of Rockstart.

I was curious if the same analysis would yield the same conclusion this year. Hence I present:

The 11 of Startupbootcamp: The 10 of Rockstart:
Formtaste innovations Auxen (MatchHamster)
Giaura Bomberbot
Iristrace CoffeeStrap
Leapfunder CrowdyHouse
Proctor2Me (ProctorExam) LeadBoxer
SendCloud Songvice Social Honey
Triprebel TechnoRides
Ukky TOP Research
UndaGrid Wonderflow

A short description of every startup is given here: Startupbootcamp, Rockstart.

What stands out?

  • In terms of origin, SBC has six startups from the Netherlands, Rockstart only three;
  • With regard to sector, it stands out that the Rockstart startups are all active in software only, while three SBC startup combine hardware with software and one (Giaura) produces hardware only;
  • Last year, SBC startups were more focused on B2B and Rockstart startups on B2C. This year, however, the business model breakdown is comparable:

Continue reading “How Startupbootcamp and Rockstart Accelerator Compare – 2014 edition”