ESADE BAN, the business angels network of ESADE Alumni, has reached a pioneering agreement with the online investment platform Crowdcube to enable co-investment in start-ups and growing businesses in Spain. Under this agreement, the entire ESADE community (alumni, students, faculty, recent graduates and staff) will be able to make investments as small as €500 in start-ups and companies that have already been analysed by – and received investments from – the investors of the ESADE BAN network. These investments will be made through the Crowdcube platform, which is regulated by the Spanish Securities and Investments Board.
The agreement has initially been launched with the possibility of investing in Zank, a private lending platform that obtained a €245,000 capital increase with ESADE BAN and Crowdcube in March 2015 and recently secured an additional half million euros in a new round of financing through Crowdcube, in which 201 investors obtained a 9.9% ownership stake in the company.
Fernando Zallo, Director of ESADE BAN, commented: “The collaboration agreement with Crowdcube, Europe’s leading crowdfunding platform, entails two aims for ESADE BAN. First, we want to complement the funding that entrepreneurs receive from the ESADE BAN business angels with access to crowdfunding from the ESADE community, as well as access to international funding through Crowdcube UK. Second, we want to enable the ESADE community, and especially ESADE Alumni, to start investing in high-growth-potential start-ups and prepare to become the ESADE BAN investors of the future.”
Pepe Borrell, Director of Crowdcube, commented: “This format will help to increase the size of the rounds of financing and include investors who want to get involved in business development, if the companies so wish, thereby providing more resources and helping to accelerate the companies’ growth.”
This new initiative of ESADE BAN – the first of its kind undertaken by a business angels network or business school – provides access to “experienced investors who, in addition to capital, contribute knowledge and contacts in our industry,” according to Zank co-founder Leonardo Ramírez.
ESADE BAN investor Jordi Dorca commented: “The collaboration agreement between Crowdcube and ESABE BAN could lead to very good synergy for everyone involved.” He added: “For the investors, pre-selection by ESADE and Crowdcube is a sign of the quality of the selected start-ups, which increases confidence in the investments. For the start-ups, it will entail a new way of accessing capital that encompasses the virtues of both crowdfunding and business angels.”
Investment and outstanding projects
ESADE BAN ended 2016 with a total of €4,425,678 invested in 34 different start-ups. The companies that received investments from network members include the online supermarket platform Deliberry, the digital marketing start-up Viwom, and WeSmartPark, an app that allows users to find and reserve cheap parking spaces in Madrid and Barcelona. The preferred investment model for ESADE BAN members is co-investment with other members of the network or with venture capital firms. ESADE BAN covers rounds of financing of between €200,000 and €500,000, with an average investment per investor of around €25,000.
According to Mr. Zallo, ESADE BAN analysed a total of 947 projects in 2016, increased its investment total with respect to the previous year (€4,088,864), and provided financing to more start-ups than the previous year (25).
The network of private investors, created by ESADE’s alumni association, puts investors seeking investment opportunities into contact with entrepreneurs who have innovative projects in need of start-up funding.
The start-ups that received funding from ESADE BAN in 2016 include companies founded by graduates of ESADE, for example The Colvin Co, a recently launched flower-delivery platform; Made of Genes, a pioneering genome-analysis start-up that has eliminated the need to sequence the same genome twice for different tests, provides full control over user data and has received an award from MIT Technology Review; WeSmartPark, a Spanish parking-rental app; and Exoticca, an e-commerce site that sells holiday packages.
Other start-ups that have received funding from ESADE BAN in the past year include Barkibu, a platform for online veterinary consultations; Mr. Jeff, an app for home delivery of dry cleaning and laundry; Runator, a community of runners; Manzaning, an app that aims to revitalise neighbourhood commerce; Roomonitor, which offers real-time noise monitoring for holiday rentals; and many more.
International recognitionThe ESADE Business Angels Network (ESADE BAN) was named the Best Private Business Angels Network in Europe at the 2016 annual conference of the European Business Angel Network (EBAN) in Porto. This award followed a decision by the Spanish Business Angels Association (AEBAN) to name ESADE BAN Spain’s best business angels network in 2014.
Founded in 2009, ESADE BAN is made up of more than 200 private investors (the majority of which are business angels, family offices and representatives of venture-capital firms). In the past five years, the network has invested more than €20 million in 120 companies. In 2016, the network organised 15 forums, focusing on the sectors of information technology, life sciences, energy and smart cities, industry, social impact, tourism and consumer goods. The number of initiatives organised by the network – as well as the number of attendees – has increased year after year. In 2016 alone, more than 1,100 people participated in the network’s activities.
ESADE BAN demonstrates the commitment of ESADE and ESADE Alumni to fostering entrepreneurship and the creation and development of start-ups. According to the Financial Times, ESADE’s MBA is one of the world’s best programmes for entrepreneurs. ESADE is home to the ESADE Entrepreneurship Institute (EEI), which is responsible for initiatives such as the EGarage and EWorks start-up accelerators. The school also offers various specific academic programmes, such as the Master in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the “From Science to Business” programme for scientists, and training courses for private investors organised by ESADE BAN through ESADE’s Business Angels School.