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Five startups to seek €1.4m through Ireland's first crowdfunding platform


Fleet founder Maurice Sheehy. Photo: Shane O'Neill Photography

Fleet founder Maurice Sheehy. Photo: Shane O'Neill Photography

Fleet founder Maurice Sheehy. Photo: Shane O'Neill Photography

Five Irish companies will seek to raise €1.4m through the country's first equity crowdfunding platform over the coming months.

Spark Crowdfunding, established earlier this year, allows investors to pump as little as €25 into early stage companies looking to raise funds, in exchange for shares in the business. The platform was set up to grant access to early-stage high-potential startups to non-professional investors.

Remote-security company Standard Access, campsite-review website Campsited, tenant-reference site Tenant Passport, dry-cleaning company Sproose, and elderly-bedding startup Garment Assist will be the latest batch of companies to seek funding through the site.

They follow person-to-person car-sharing app Fleet - founded by Maurice Sheehy - which raised €275,000 for 20pc of its business through the platform last month. Spark chief executive Chris Burge said the company was "democratising investment" and that it would appeal to those sitting on savings in their bank accounts.

"The way our system works is all or nothing - if you don't meet your target then the campaign is deemed unsuccessful," he said. "It's aimed at companies that are still not able to get venture capital funding and the banks are not funding these startups adequately either, so this is another route for them to get more funding for themselves."

Burge said the company differed to crowdfunding giant Kickstarter, which typically offers a product or service in advance for funding a product. Fleet was the latest company to receive funding and was oversubscribed over the course of a six-week period with 160 investors.

"We've more companies signed up that are coming on board with us," he said. "We have 10 that will go onto the site between now and Christmas and we are expecting a good amount of traffic."

Burge also highlighted a tax relief set out for those that invest in startup businesses, known as the Employment Incentive and Investment Scheme. "People who invest in startups can get 40pc of their investment back through tax relief through their income tax," he said. "They get 30pc through year one and 10pc through year four if they hold onto their shares for that length of time."

Four other companies have already raised equity through the site since its inception, including SnapMail - it raised €50,000.

Sunday Indo Business