While large-scale, established companies usually don’t have to look far for capital, startups and growing enterprises have to work a lot harder to attract investments. Symbid is looking to make that easier on them. The online funding platform provides SMEs with access to financial backing from both traditional and alternative sources. PYMNTS recently spoke with Korstiaan Zandvliet, co-founder and CEO of Symbid, to get a feel for how the Netherlands-based company is shaking up the space.
What problem does Symbid solve and for whom?
KZ: Symbid solves the problem of getting funding for startups and growing companies. We do so by setting up an online investment portal in which we include crowd investors – basically non-accredited investors – as well as institutional investors. This provides the right mixture of financial instruments to every entrepreneur within their life cycle.
What is one defining characteristic of what Symbid is doing that sets it apart from other companies in the space?
KZ: Symbid originally started out as one of the first equity-based process platforms in the world; we allowed non-accredited investors to put funds on an equity parameter into exciting new startup companies and/or into growing SMEs.
As of earlier this year, we launched the so-called Funding Network, in which institutional investors are also included in the mix.
What sets us apart from the competition is the fact that an entrepreneur can solicit investments both from the crowd and from institutional investors, and we put a great emphasis on monitoring those companies in a very data-driven way. We integrate with the bookkeeping practices of those particular companies in order to provide relevant managerial information to the investors. We do that on a quarterly basis, so, in that respect, we are basically diminishing the line between public and private companies.
You mentioned the Funding Network. Over 100 companies have been funded through it, correct?
KZ: Yes, it’s working quite well. The funding counter right now is at €115 million.
And in late April, the company was awarded the Dutch Fintech Award.
KZ: That’s correct. And that award was specifically as a result of the work we have done for SME finance in the Netherlands. We were very excited – not only the management team, but all the employees throughout Europe – to receive such a prestigious honor.
What part of the ecosystem does Symbid most disrupt, and what does it most complement, and how?
KZ: We disrupt, basically, the way that information is exchanged between potential investors and entrepreneurs. We do that via completely self-service portals in an entirely digital way.
In this way, we are actually improving the fundability of those cases by allowing investor memorandums to be provided to multiple investors at the same time. As a result, we can insure softer capital information, which leads to faster go-to-market for startups and faster growth for growing SMEs.
To that extent, we are disrupting the way that institutional investors are investing, but also we are disrupting the way that the general public can invest. Normally, members of the general public only have access to the bigger stock market; with Symbid, they can directly invest into small- and medium-sized enterprises.
In one word or two – maybe even a phrase – what best describes Symbid’s value proposition?
KZ: Symbid is the fastest contemporary capital market for startups and SMEs.
What’s next for Symbid in the upcoming months or year?
KZ: In the upcoming year, we are primarily focusing on international organization within the euro zone. We recently started up in Germany and in Italy, and we are actively preparing a market entry in Spain as well as in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, we will be improving our monitoring services.
We will also be making the first strides toward a secondary market, which will allow investors to trade their investments – in a completely digital format. This way, investors will be able to additionally profit from the actual growth in revenue of value of the companies in which they invest.