Table of Visions is a white label crowdfunding platform, based in Germany, that started life as a stand-alone rewards based site. Founded by David Heberling and David Holetzeck the entrepreneurs were working on a movie project and needed funding. During their search to fund their project they stumbled upon crowdfunding and decided to move forward with their own software thus launching one of the early German crowdfunding platforms. They eventually sold majority ownership in Pling to Clemens Tonnies and shifted their focus to powering platforms for other companies. They have focused their efforts for now on German speaking countries including their home turf, Austria and Switzerland but it is clear they have broader ambitions.
Today Table of Visions has three verticals for their “specialists in crowdfunding software”: crowdfunding, crowdinnovation and crowdengaging.
Crowdfund Insider spoke to the founders of Pling / Table of Visions last year and we recently had the opportunity to catch up with founder David Holetzeck to hear about progress at the Berlin based company.
Crowdfund Insider: Table of Visions started as Pling – a rewards based crowdfunding platform. What is the status of Pling today?
David Holetzeck: I started Pling.de, a crowdfunding platform for creative projects, with my partner David Heberling in 2010. It was a really interesting time for us because nobody in Germany knew about Crowdfunding.
We were on a lot of panels and conferences and spent a lot time explaining the concept. We love looking back on this time because we knew back then that it was going to change something.
In 2012 we got an offer from an investor to buy the brand pling.de and we took it but we also kept the software. The new investor decided to take the project in a slighty different direction. It‘s not a Crowdfunding platform anymore but more of a micropayment solution for creative projects.
Crowdfund Insider: Are you still involved with Pling? Previously you shared you had a minority interest and seat on the board.
David Holetzeck: Yes, we still hold a minority interest but we are no longer actively in involved in developing the product.
Crowdfund Insider: How has Table of Visions evolved since the shift to providing software for crowdfunding platforms?
David Holetzeck: We have grown from a company consisting of two guys who thought Crowdfunding was a cool idea to a professional company that works for large customers.
Over the past few years we have started working for the German Sparkassen-Finanzportal, Dekabank and wikimedia Germany.
But in a way we are doing what we always did: we try to explain the potential of Crowdfunding. Big companies are very interested in the concept and we think they should be, because Crowdfunding has incredible potential on so many levels and everyone has a Crowd they can use!!! Our software is special because we have used and evolved it for five years now. We combine it with our knowledge of the market and think this is why companies like to work with us so much.
David Holetzeck: Yes of course! First of all, our software is built very flexibly so it’s no problem for us to combine, add or transform certain modules in accordance with the needs of the customer.
Our Crowdfunding product is a platform based on the traditional funding model that is used for creative projects as well as Crowdinvesting. The focus of the poduct is transferring money and presenting a product that needs funding or is looking for investments.
Crowdinnovation does not have a funding focus. Instead it presents ideas and opinions, especially internally within companies. Sparkasse for example currently uses this product.
Crowdengaging is about finding the right people to get engaged in your product or project. Either they have special skills, equipment or expertise. Wikimedia Germany is also using a version of this product.
Crowdfund Insider: How big is the market for your services in Germany?
David Holetzeck: As our products are so flexible and can adapt to any evironment, we believe there is an enourmous market for them. Big companies as well as startups or NGOs can use this technology and utilize their Crowd according to their needs.
David Holetzeck: There is no one we know of who does exactly what we do. At first sight, it might seem like we compete with the various providers of crowdfunding white label software. But we focus so much on having a close relationship with our customer and providing them with excellent service and expert consultation, that most of our products are essentially custom-made platforms.
Crowdfund Insider: Do you see your growth coming domestically? European wide or elsewhere (IE US)?
David Holetzeck: We are a B2B centered business and for now we are focussing on the DACH market (Germany, Austria & Switzerland). Like I said, we want to provide our customer with an excellent level of service. Especially in crowdfunding where you have to know what you are doing; what form of payment is best and which legal solution is applicable. But of course, we always like a challenge and building a platform for a US-based company would certainly be great and we‘re certainly capable of it.
So we see growth coming from every direction. Every company that understands the massive impact of Crowdfunding technology and wants to try something new is a potential customer of ours.
Crowdfund Insider: How is the investment crowdfunding market in Germany?
David Holetzeck: There have certainly been some very cool crowdinvesting-projects in the past few months. I think this is a field where big players need to come in. For example classic banks or real estate offices, because this is their field of expertise and they need to be part of this innovative movement otherwise sooner of later they will start to loose customers.
I don’t believe that startups can have the same impact as big companies in this field. It‘s simply a matter of expertise and the more demographically diverse client base that big companies have.
The main focus of Crowdinvesting is attracting investors and I dont think that the startup companies in this area attract anyone over 50. But especially in Germany where there are many older (+45) people who have (a lot of) money and do not want to invest in a website. Big companies could still use this advantage they have and we see big potential in this. Hopefully of course, they will be using TABLE OF VISIONS software to exploit this potential.
Crowdfund Insider: Recently there have been concerns about Investor protection laws that will impede investment crowdfunding. What are your thoughts on this issue?
David Holetzeck: We are very concerned about this recent development even though it does not concern us directly. But as active members of the German Crowdfunding Network (the association representing the Crowdfunding Community,) we support the work that they do. It would be a huge shame to see the great work that Crowd investing platforms have done go to waste. It would certainly have a negative effect on entrepreneurs and banks but ultimately Germany and the EU if we are unable to be competitive in this market.
David Holetzeck: The chairman of the German Crowdfunding Network, Karsten Wenzlaff, has just been called to work in a Committee for the EU. We are very excited about this because it shows that Crowdfunding has emerged at the EU level. Thinking about the fact that just 5 years ago, David and I had to explain Crowdfunding to everyone we met, this is pretty impressive. The Crowdfunding industry will further professionalize itself in the coming years and I think we can look forward to some amazing projects. At TABLE OF VISIONS, we are happy and excited to be part of this.