The unique self-sufficient mobile microhouse was introduced for the first time in the Czech Republic by Crowdberry, a premium Czecho-Slovak crowd-investment platform, which enables Czech private investors to invest into companies in exchange for equity. It is thanks to the capital from this pioneering investment marketplace that the first batch of 50 Ecocapsules is being shipped worldwide. Meanwhile, the company is ready for the next investment round to scale up.
Last year, besides Ecocapsule and a legendary Czech motorbike Čezeta, Crowdberry facilitated investment into five companies with total valuation over 90 million CZK. The platform’s investment experts estimate that due to the growing popularity of investing into interesting companies and, at the same time, due to local companies’ growing interest in raising local capital, the number of companies seeking investment as well as the number of investors will more than double in the next year. To become a shareholder of a disruptive company the investor needs as little as 50,000 CZK. Currently, the Crowdberry team works on ten campaigns with the total volume of investment sought amounting to more than 250 million CZK. The Ecocapsule alone, with the total investment of more than 70 million CZK in two investment rounds, is the largest crowd-investment project in our region.
Crowd-investing, an emerging trend also in the Czech Republic, is an ambitious area with huge potential, which is being established as part of financial and investment markets. For many companies, this kind of financial partnership is vital. At certain stages of their life-cycle, these companies face the lack of access to traditional bank financing. For example, in the case of Ecocapsule, the Crowdberry team managed to round up capital amounting to 19 million CZK from eleven investors, including a Japanese company, in the first investment round. This investment enabled the company to produce the first batch of Ecocapsules with part of the components made in the Czech Republic. The value of the company after the current round of investment is estimated to be almost 200 million CZK with the projected sales amounting to hundreds of millions CZK. “Crowdberry not only helps companies with raising capital, but also looks for smart investors, who actively help them with operations, sales, production as well as scaling up. That’s our main point of differentiation from other crowd-investment platforms – active investors directly influence the success of their own investment and therefore keep creating stronger and more reliable investment community. Furthermore, our cooperation with the companies is long-term: we keep working with them even after they raise capital and we sit on their supervisory boards. As a result, Ecocapsule has returned to the platform for their next investment round in order to begin mass production,” explains Daniel Gašpar, managing partner of Crowdberry.
Crowdberry is the first platform to offer equity-based investment not only in start-ups but also in well-established and profitable companies. Additionally, since the last year, investors who prefer seeking returns in sectors they identify with can also use the platform to buy equity in real-estate projects. In terms of attractivity, electrified Čezeta is one of the main draws among the investment opportunities. We are now witnessing the rebirth of this legendary motorcycle scooter ČZ 506, also affectionately nicknamed “the pig”, led by British tech entrepreneur Neil Eamonn Smith. “For Čezeta, the reasons to join Crowdberry were similar to those of Ecocapsule. After four years of development, Čezeta needed to raise capital to expand production and start selling the “electrical piggy”. The investment goal, over 15 million CZK, has been reached and Crowdberry is currently closing the investment round with the production ready to begin at large scale,” says David Jelen, the head of the Crowdberry office in the Czech Republic.
The last year’s expansion to the Czech Republic was the logical next step for the company. The Slovak and Czech markets have a lot in common – many Czechs invest in Slovakia and many start-ups and fast-growing companies have operations in both countries. Moreover, the majority aims to expand within the region or globally. The good knowledge of the Czecho-Slovak environment is one of the building blocks of Crowdberry and represents an added value for investors. They can be sure that a company that made it to the Crowdberry platform went through comprehensive qualitative and quantitative due diligence process and that the presented numbers, strategy and growth opportunities correspond to reality. Investing with Crowdberry is attractive also for experienced foreign investors who can discover and support outstanding companies via the platform. What they appreciate is the high professional standard of the provided services. Among the most active crowd-investors are foreign expats living in the Czech Republic and Slovakia as well as Czech and Slovak expats abroad.