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Equity Crowdfunding platform to kick-start business growth

A specialist finance and regeneration company has masterminded an online platform aimed at bringing entrepreneurs and investors together to kick-start new and growth businesses.

Carlton & Co, based in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, has launched GrowthFunders, which gives investors the opportunity to buy equity stakes in growth businesses for as little as £100.

Crowdfunding, as it is more popularly known in its native USA, is a new way for people to pool small amounts of money to back a good idea or business. It allows entrepreneurs to draw funds together from a number of investors using a web-based investment platform.

A beta version of the GrowthFunders website is under test and the marketing site went live last week attracting 278 “sign-ups” in the first two weeks.  

For entrepreneurs, the site offers access to capital to support growth, as well as expert advice and guidance from the Founder 100 support network. Business opportunities are vetted and help is offered to refine an entrepreneur’s business proposal.

Carlton & Co, which was started in 2000 by brothers Craig and Norman Peterson, specialises in housing and commercial property-based regeneration projects. It has worked on developing schemes including Carlton Glebe Farm Court in Boldon, Eaglesgate at Yarm and on projects at Aycliffe Business Park. But Craig Peterson said stimulating economic regeneration is as much a part of the business as large-scale building projects.

“We are a specialist finance and regeneration company and that means focusing on growing businesses not just building places to live and work,” he said. “This is an innovative platform that opens business investment out to anybody, no matter how small their investment. “The crowd decides what’s good, what’s not, what they want to fund and what they don’t. “Good ideas and solid business proposals will shine through and the wisdom of ordinary people like you or I to fund them is a really exciting prospect.  

We’ve been researching the marketplace for the past nine months and we’ve formulated a business model over that period. We’ve pre-launched the site and we’re now trying to raise awareness of crowd funding and let potential entrepreneurs and investors know what it’s all about.”

Norman Peterson is set to share his experience and details of the company’s latest venture with a group of alumni from two of the world’s leading universities. Peterson will be among those taking part in the Global Launchpad event, run by Oxford University and colleagues at the prestigious University of Chicago Booth.

Budding entrepreneurs from the alumni of both universities will gather at the event in London, where Peterson will share his experience and discuss the company’s new Growth Funders initiative.

He said: “It is excellent for a North East company to be able to be among this high-calibre audience, all benefiting from one another and from the experience of people like my former Oxford tutor, Professor Tim Jenkinson, a world class expert in private equity, and Professor Rob Gertner of Chicago Booth, who specialises in strategy and finance.

 

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Growth Capital Ventures (GCV) is backed by funds managed by Maven Capital Partners, one of the UK’s leading private equity and alternative asset managers.