‘Business is Boring’ is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand, with the interview available as both audio and a transcribed excerpt.
One of the coolest things to happen to business has been the new democratic ways people can get a product, idea or dream off the ground. Crowdfunding, and the new tools of equity crowdfunding and peer lending are changing the way people can test, prove and launch new things.
In New Zealand a pioneer on all these fronts is PledgeMe.co.nz, a very cool company founded and led by Anna Guenther. They’ve had huge impact, with Eat My Lunch funding 800K of lunch bonds, and more than 1000 successful projects. And all through something that didn’t exist a few short years ago.
The Spinoff has used PledgeMe to crowdfund and smash through the stretch targets for The War for Auckland campaign, a perfect example of how this platform is making things possible and mobilising and connecting people to achieve new things. But how did it all begin, and where is it all going?
You believed in the product so much you put yourself through the equity process a couple times, right? Tell me about that. I guess what I’m interested in is one of the barriers of people wanting to go down the equity route is telling everyone about all of your financials and stripping off in the public glare. And in a country like New Zealand, I wonder if people have been traditionally a bit shy about talking about the dollars and cents. How have you found that, how has the experience been for you, yourself?
Terrifying. Terrifying. Yeah – it was funny because we had this big debate about whether we could eat our own dog food. One of my advisors thought it was the worst idea, and I was like, we can’t make other people do it if we don’t do it ourselves. So we did it. Twice. But, it really is like getting naked and running through a field of investors. In some ways it’s freeing, because you’re like, this is us, this is what we’re interested in doing, this is how we’re going to get there. But we need money and support and … um, everything. So yeah, it’s been really powerful for us I think, that the shareholders that we have are super behind us and super supportive – and so much more than just money.
It’s so brave as well in a world of the anonymous Internet comment thread or something, and, you know, people love to be experts on things, and to have to go out there and talk about how much you’re making and what your revenues are, and that’s such a brave thing. But by doing that and by doing the one thing which is so important in business, which is being honest about what kind of investment it will take to get somewhere, because what kind of kills companies is not having enough money to achieve what they hope to do.
Yeah. I think one of the best things about being about to go out there and talk about what you’re doing is that transparency can bring support in different ways. Because, well, business is hard! And going out there and saying you’re going to do something, and if you don’t do it, it’s pretty scary.