Crowdfunding took the world by storm, now it’s Alphaworks’ turn.
Alphaworks is a new crowdfunding platform setup by Betaworks, and it has a brand-new method of funding startups.
Betaworks is a self-described ‘company of builders’ that invest in seed stage companies and offer them a chance to grow. In addition, they aim to build networks of people and create new media tools.
Alphaworks has a different setup to normal crowdfunding platforms. They do not offer products in return for investments, they offer equity.
However, before that round of funding begins, a large chunk of the company is offered to investors who use structured venture deals from three chosen firms, betworks, SV Angel and Lerer Ventures.
After that portion of funding is secure, another part of the company is opened up to investors who wish to purchase equity in the company. The smallest number of shares are reserved for a number of frequent users that are active through the company that is being funded. These shares will be offered with no cost in the form of a grant.
The pilot company working alongside Alphaworks is a new type of social network named See.Me. It is an online database of sorts through which visual artists can share their work.
In addition to sharing, the artists have the option of selling their work through the platform to the other users.
See.Me earns its revenue by charging a small fee for any purchases, tips and donations made towards the artists or their work. However, they intend to create a new model for collecting revenue by creating and selling items such as postcards and t-shirts.
Via Alphaworks, See.Me has already reached their goal.
$1.25 million was collected through the venture capitalist firms and the remainder was collected, through the platform by purchased equity in See.Me, in a shockingly brief period of time.
See.Me’s founder, William Etundi Jr., describes his enthusiasm for this new platform, “What excites me most is the potential for Alphaworks to be used by non-tech companies. The local coffee shop or book store or band can stay alive and grow because they’re owned by their community and fans, and that’s something really special.”
However, like all new companies, they are expected to face some challenges. David Lee of SV Angel says that it will be a learning experience, particularly when it comes down to identifying what type of startup specific users will be interested in investing in.