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Equity Crowdfunding for Startups and SMEs Slows Down in 2022

In 2022, SMEs and startups collected a total of 70.8 million, a slight increase from 2021 (86.5 million). SMEs saw an increase in collection, while startups saw a decrease. The funding was concentrated in 11 sectors, with the biggest increases in Commerce, Industry, Hi Tech Products, and Catering and Bars. The biggest decreases were in Fashion, Agriculture, Energy & Cleantech, and Biotech.

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The year 2022 has just ended and has been a year of slowdown for equity crowdfunding. It is the first time that this has happened in Italy since this market has existed.

We have only analyzed funding relating to Startups and SMEs, while we have excluded real estate (which has a completely different trend and which will be the subject of a specific report dedicated to real estate crowdfunding) and investment vehicles, which, despite having still been able to collect this year under the Italian regulation, they will no longer be able to do so in the near future under the European one.

In 2022, therefore, Startup and PMI raised 72.34 million with equity crowdfunding, while in 2021 they had raised 90.12, with a decrease of 20%.

It should also be noted that in 2020 the collection had been 47.12 million and, therefore, as partial consolation, compared to two years ago, Italian equity crowdfunding grew by 54%.

The same trend, albeit more contained, can also be found with regard to the number of financed companies. In 2022, there were 141 successful campaigns, while in 2021 there were 170 (-17%). Similarly to funding, if we compare 2022 with 2020 instead, we notice a growth of 16%, as the companies financed had been 122.

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Equity crowdfunding in Italy

The number of campaigns presented on Italian platforms in 2022 was 165 compared to 195 in 2021. Although the success rate decreased slightly (85.5% vs 87.1%), in absolute value the campaigns that did not close with success are almost equal: 24 in 2022 and 25 in 2021.

So, in 2022, the number of companies launching equity crowdfunding campaigns has drastically decreased.

Average funding has also decreased, albeit not markedly: 513k in 2022 vs 530k in 2021. But the 2022 performance is still excellent if you compare it with 2020 when average funding stopped at 386k.

By dividing the average funding into its minimum target and overfunding components, it emerges that the former is substantially similar between 2022 and 2021. Indeed, the companies have aimed at a slightly more ambitious minimum target (246K vs 236k). On the other hand, overfunding, i.e. the portion of funding exceeding the minimum target, has decreased significantly, going from 294k in 2021 to 267k.

Also in light of the 2020 numbers, 132k minimum target and 254k overfunding, we believe this is a sign of how ” crowd ” investors have reduced their investments in venture capital. In fact, while the minimum target is generally raised thanks to investors hired directly by the company that raises, overfunding is often an indicator of spontaneous investments.

Funded companies

Going into detail on the type of financed companies, we note that SMEs in 2022 collected slightly more than in 2021 (32.6k vs. 30.1k), while startups lowered the total collection: 38.2k collected in 2022 compared to 56.4k in 2021. For the sake of completeness, we point out the other category monitored, energy efficiency, which saw a contraction from 3.1 million to 1.5 million.

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The analysis of the sectors in which financed companies operate finds that in 2022 there was an increase in concentration in some sectors.

Indeed, in 2022, 80% of funding (57.6 million) was concentrated in 11 sectors: Commerce 11.5 million, Food & Beverage 6.6 million, Industry 6.3 million, Agriculture 6.3 million, Energy & Cleantech 6.1 million, Catering and Bars 4.7 million, Hi-Tech Products 4.7 million, Sport and Leisure Time 3.1 million, IT 2.9 million, Insurtech 2.5 million, Tourism 2.5 million.

In 2021, 80% (70 million) was instead spread across 13 sectors.

Considering the dynamics of the sectors, those that grew the most were Commerce (+8.8 million), Industry (+4.7 million), Hi-Tech Products (+3.4 million), Catering and Bars (+1, 7 million).

Those that decreased the most were Fashion (-6.1 million), Agriculture (-4.9 million), Energy & Cleantech (-3.4 million), and Biotech (-3.2 million).

Investors in equity crowdfunding

In partial confirmation of what has been hypothesized above regarding overfunding, the average number of investors for each campaign has significantly decreased, both compared to 2021 and compared to 2020. In 2022, in fact, there were an average of 82 compared to 99 in 2021 and 97 in 2020.

Furthermore, still, on average, the average investment of each investor per campaign has grown to €6,200 from €5,400 and even more significantly than in 2020 (€4,000 for each investment).

The contraction in investments is even more evident if we consider the number of total transactions. In 2022 there were 11,600 transactions, a sharp decrease compared to the peak reached in 2021, 16,800 transactions, and a slight decrease also compared to 2020 (11,900).

The Platforms

In 2022 there were 16 platforms that closed at least one successful campaign, against 18 in 2021. Of these 16, 3 were collected for the first time in 2022 (Puzzle Funding, 2meet2biz, and Re-Anima). In 2021 there were 5 of them who had collected for the first time.

The market is increasingly concentrated: the first two platforms (Mamacrowd with 31.2 million and Crowdfundme with 22.5 million) collected 74% of the total, while in 2021 they had collected 55%.

In terms of performance, CrowdFundMe grew the most (+6.1 million, equal to 37% growth), followed by WeAreStarting (+1.1 million, equal to 74% growth) and StarsUp (+0.9 million, but which had not completed successful campaigns in 2021).

On the other hand, some historical platforms such as Opstart and Backtowork were more affected by the market contraction, collecting about 60% less than in 2021, while Mamacrowd is substantially stable although slightly contracting (-7%).

Conclusions

Venture capital raising by startups and SMEs in Italy has contracted, for the first time since this market existed (2014). To conclude, we would like to highlight some of the observed data, in order to offer a synthesis.

  1. The first fact we would like to underline is that the offer has dropped, i.e. the number of companies that have launched a campaign and not the success rate. And, indeed, the average collection per campaign has remained at the levels of 2021.
  2. The second, probably the cause of the first, is that the number of active platforms has decreased and that some “historical” platforms have reduced their collection capacity.
  3. The third is that the number of people who invest in risk capital has decreased, as evidenced by the decline in overfunding and the decline in the number of transactions.
  4. The fourth is that investments in SMEs are growing, while investments in start-ups are conspicuously declining. We believe that this is a sign of the greater aversion to riskier investments, a trend that is most likely due to the economic situation (expensive energy, market uncertainties).
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In our opinion, as far as Startups and SMEs are concerned, the most worrying signal is not so much that of the contraction in the number of investors, but that of the contraction in supply. This contraction seems to us to be mainly due to the greater concentration of the market.

The decline in the number of platforms certainly reduces the offer potential, as the major platforms that continue to operate, by definition, are not able (for now) to manage a much greater number of qualified proposals.

On the other hand, the more recently launched platforms don’t seem to be able to scale quickly.

We hope that also thanks to the new EU regulation, on the one hand, new structured and financially solid operators will enter the market, and on the other (or in conjunction with this) the smaller platforms will find the opportunity to merge in order to more quickly reach a competitive dimension.

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(Featured image by Tumisu via Pixabay)

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First published in Crowdfunding buzz, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.

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Sharon Harris is a feminist and a part-time nomad. She reports about businesses primarily involved in tech, CBD, and crypto. She started her career as a product manager at a Silicon Valley startup but now enjoys a new life as a personal finance geek and writer. Her primary aim is to provide readers with a new perspective on the overlapping world of finance and technology.