February 9 (SeeNews) - Romanian crowdfunding and equity management platform for tech startups SeedBlink will focus this year on developing its non-crowdfunding services in Bulgaria due to expected challenges in securing startup financing, regional manager for Southeast Europe Angel Hadjiev said.
"The investment horizon of five of the seven most active investment funds in Bulgaria expired on December 31 last year; they were financed by the country's Fund of Funds. Therefore, finding funding for Bulgarian startups might be a bit difficult, at least this year," Hadjiev told SeeNews in a recent interview. To address the expected issue, SeedBlink plans to bolster its suite of lesser-known products and services while awaiting regulatory changes that will stimulate their use.
As an equity management platform, SeedBlink helps startups throughout their lifecycle, from structuring capital to fundraising, reporting and issuing stock options. With Bulgaria's introduction of the variable capital company (VCC) last year and its expected introduction in commercial law at the end of June, SeedBlink sees a growing demand for such services.
In 2023, the company launched Nimity, a solution designed to simplify equity management processes for entrepreneurs and private investors across Europe. Nimity streamlines tasks such as cap table tracking, investor governance, employee stock ownership plans (ESOP) automation and fundraising.
SeedBlink has invested significantly in Nimity over the past year, recognising a gap in the European market, with most competitors focusing on the UK or the U.S., Hadjiev added. He believes Nimity will be especially useful in Bulgaria in 2024, underlining the importance of preparing startups for financing challenges, incentivising staff and making them a part of the startup's vision through equity participation.
In terms of the investment volume, SeedBlink mobilised about 200 million euro ($215.2 million) in total last year, with Bulgaria contributing 14%, while Romania and Greece made up 34% and 1%, respectively. SeedBlink's investors accounted for 7% of mobilised investments in Bulgaria in 2023 and held shares of 6% and 12% of investments mobilised in Romania and Greece, respectively. While the platform received applications for funding from over 1,800 Southeast European companies, it only financed 3%, demonstrating its selective approach.
SeedBlink's acquisition of Netherlands-based investment crowdfunding platform Symbid in 2022 facilitated its expansion into the Benelux market, where it currently employs three people. The company ventured into the DACH region (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) in June 2023 and said last month that it plans to expand its operational presence there, as well as in Benelux and France. The platform is also looking at other countries in Southeast Europe.
"Last year especially, our funds had sporadic successes in neighbouring Serbia and Albania. I do not expect dozens of deals per year, but if there are two or three interesting ones, we would be happy to look at those. So we definitely want to be in Albania, Serbia and North Macedonia," Hadjiev said.
However, educating Southeast European investors about alternative investment forms remains a key challenge for the company.
"In Bulgaria, the first thing you do when you earn some money is to buy real estate and this is the investment that has been instilled in us over the years, that it is the safest investment. I am not arguing with that perception. We do equity and risk financing. There is a risk, of course, that you might lose your entire investment because, statistically speaking, eight out of ten companies in your portfolio will most likely not survive more than three years," Hadjiev noted.
Investors on the SeedBlink platform typically diversify their portfolios across 10 to 15 companies, focusing on local startups at first, before gradually expanding to include opportunities across Europe as they gain experience. While the investment landscape in the Balkans, particularly Greece, remains insular, Hadjiev sees signs of increased international collaboration.
"I hope and see that there is a tendency for this to change, and this is an indication of the level of growth of an ecosystem. The more international deals you do, the more comfortable you are with the risk you have taken, because the risk is not so much based on where you are positioned as a startup, but the potential of your idea," Hadjiev noted.
PublishedFebruary 09, 2024
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Co-founder of Aqurate
As a startup founder, I am happy to witness SeedBlink’s dedication to expanding their support for early-stage companies beyond funding, towards a healthy equity management via Nimity. A solution to help better navigate relations with stakeholders, employees and future investors is needed in Europe. Less admin work and bringing transparency to the cap table are immediate benefits I was able to test.
SeedBlink is a transparent solution that connects entrepreneurs with great business plans, with investors, at different stages in their development. It is a great tool for us, a democratization of access to funding, I would say.
We really loved the SeedBlink journey. We reached our fundraising goal within hours of launching. About 100 investors joined our vision and invested almost $2 million in FLOWX.AI through the Private Deal Room. At the same time, working with SeedBlink to prepare for the funding round was an excellent exercise for our entire team, and we received and felt the support from the SeedBlink team members who took on an advisory role.
SeedBlink made the (investment) process run smoothly. We appreciate all the support SeedBlink's professional team has provided.
Founder and CEO
It's important to look for and choose a platform that you resonate with, that shares your mission with, a platform & its people with which you feel you can have good working relationships. we got an excellent relationship going forward; we talked a lot and we were in touch on a lot of matters and I think this was important. Having people who believe in your idea is of great help.
Founder and CEO
Running the financing round was like any other fundraising; we had to be active in our community as well as in SeedBlink's investor community. After the launch, everything happened very quickly, and SeedBlink organized several pitch events for investors, which we found very useful for the round momentum.
Founder and CEO
We immediately clicked with the SeedBlink team as their fundraising expertise was immediately obvious and their no-nonsense approach really appealed to us. After all, fundraising is only a means to an end, and we liked how the SeedBlink team was really focusing on supporting us and on getting things done.
Our main expectation has been to raise the amount we were aiming for, and both rounds launched on Seedblink exceeded our targets, so we’re very happy with that! Even though the launched funding campaigns have been purely crowdfunding rounds, we are thrilled to actually receive extra support from some of the investors, who have chosen to get involved and help us generate product awareness, whenever they can.
I am recommending SeedBlink without hesitation, to every founder that raises capital, especially early-stage tech startups. SeedBlink is a crowd investment platform that will also provide their startup with visibility, for Angels and VCs.
Founder and CEO
In the early stages, we have been funded by several early (angel) investors, and one and a half year ago through an equity crowdfunding campaign on SeedBlink. Of course, this impacted our growth in many positive ways, partly due to the cash influx that, evidently, was sorely needed, but in a larger part due to the fact that our responsibility towards our shareholders has become more stringent and explicit, becoming embodied in our market approach.
Co-founder and CEO
Given the accelerated growth we observed at the end of last year and the beginning of 2021, we want a new capitalization, quickly. This is a bridge round that we will use for one year, and the advantages that SeedBlink offers are the speed at which we were able to list for financing and the experience that we gain as a result of this public listing, similar to a listing on the stock exchange.
Co-Founder & CEO
As a platform that only serves technology ventures, SeedBlink can connect the start-up with more than just money. SeedBlink investors are primarily technocrats who understand the objectives of the fundraising company and are also able to post-funding contribute with business opportunities. The minimum investment threshold, and technology focus, differentiates SeedBlink from other fundraising platforms. A perfect fit for a technology start-up seeking intelligent funding.
Co-Founder & CEO
SeedBlink boosted our brand exposure and facilitated the financial support we were seeking. Having a campaign on the platform allowed us not only to meet a team of professionals - that guided and helped us prepare the necessary materials - but also opened doors for increasing our brand awareness and have discussions with VCs & angel investors we have never reached before. This campaign gave us the encouragement we needed to push the product further, while the record-breaking fundraising (only 2 hours from the launch of the campaign!) was a great confirmation that our product is needed in this market and that we should continue innovating.
CEO & Co-founder
SeedBlink has created a vital ecosystem for startups at the beginning of their journey by equipping entrepreneurs with expertise, encouraging honest and sometimes uncomfortable but necessary discussions about risks and vulnerabilities through a suite of tools, and facilitating connections with investors who share the founders' vision and can contribute to their success. I have greatly appreciated the constant support of Eric and the entire team at all stages of the campaign. Thank you so much!
SeedBlink S.A. is registered in the Register of the Romanian Financial Supervisory Authority (ASF), under number PJR28FSFPR/400001, as of 03.11.2022 with an EU passport as per European Securities and Market Authority (ESMA) register of crowdfunding services providers.
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