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Vend boss Rowsell helps PledgeMe meet $100,000 crowd funding target

PledgeMe, the equity crowd funder, has raised $100,000 via its own equity crowd funding platform with help from Vend boss Vaughan Rowsell.

The Wellington-based company used its own equity crowd funding platform to offer a 14.3 percent stake in the business, selling shares at $20 apiece with a minimum $500 investment. It says it will pay dividends once the board decides it's prudent. The offer reached its maximum target of $100,000 after 50 pledgers committed funds yesterday evening, having launched late Monday night.

According to the online offer, Rowsell, chief executive of cloud-based retail software firm Vend, was the last to pledge funds, just before 7pm yesterday evening, although the site doesn't show the amount committed. Wellington-based brewery Garage Project also pledged funds.

The company plans to use the proceeds to hire more staff, so it can boost the number of crowd funding offers it runs, and build a mobile-optimised website. PledgeMe is an all-or-nothing crowd funder, meaning those looking to raise capital from investors must raise a minimum target to secure the pledged cash.

PledgeMe was now looking at the possibility of another capital raising in 2015, chief executive, Anna Guenther told BusinessDesk. "We kept getting emails from people saying they'd missed it, so we're taking emails if people are interested and we do it."

Earlier this year PledgeMe was licensed by the Financial Markets Authority to allow companies to offer equity to the crowd when raising cash, in a shift away from project-based offers.

So far, the company's first two equity offers, which both launched on Sept. 26, have failed to lock in their minimum targets. H2Explore, a hovercraft ferry business in the South Island, raised only $12,000 of its $250,000 minimum target before the offer closed on Friday.

Meanwhile, Techvana Operating, which is looking to raise a minimum of $250,000 and up to $750,000 to secure a location and build New Zealand's first computer museum in Auckland, has so far raised $23,950 from 50 pledgers and has eight days to raise the outstanding funds.

"What we've seen it's a lot slower getting companies ready than it is getting projects ready and there is a lot more work involved with that, but we're not concerned with the success rate is going to be lower," Guenther told BusinessDesk yesterday. "What we've learnt is we really need to get companies thinking about their crowd and actually talking to their crowd, while it's something we definitely recommend we're going to be pushing it a lot harder in the future."

Since launching in 2012 PledgeMe has had a 49 percent success rate, with 675 successful projects raising more than $2.9 million. It clips the ticket on all successful offers, taking 5 percent of the total raised for both equity and project campaigns.

According to its offer documents expects to make a loss of $28,000 in the year ended March 31, 2015, on $128,000 in revenue. In the year it expects 800 crowd funding projects, which don't offer equity, of which half will be successful. It also projects half of its forecast 18 equity crowd funding offers will secure their minimum target.

In the following 2016 year, PledgeMe forecasts annual profit of $46,000 on $400,000 in sales, with 560 successful projects and 55 successful equity offers. In 2017 it forecast profit to rise to $226,000 on $966,000 in sales, with 850 successful projects and 166 successful equity offers.