Today, KissKissBankBank & Co, the French brand which operates three crowdfunding platforms, rewards-based platform KissKissBankBank, interest-free lending platform hellomerci and crowdlending platform Lendopolis, opened la Maison du Crowdfunding, the first brick-and-mortar crowdfunding store worldwide. The store is part of the brand’s strategy to reach customers beyond the early adopters who made it a success so far.
Located in the busy center of Paris’ 10th arrondissement, in the aptly-named Rue de Paradis, the shop will be open to walk-in customers, project owners and crowdfunding contributors alike.
Beautifully decorated with natural wood panels in the pop-art style typical of KissKissBankBank’s communication, the place has a very relaxing and welcoming feel. Its walls display a wealth of information about crowdfunding: what it is, how it works and what it has already achieved in France and worldwide. All this information, including the key market statistics and performance indicators, is presented in a quick and easy-to-understand format, including video testimonials and 3D representations of statistics cut in wood blocks.
“Our aim is that anybody who walks into our Maison du Crowdfunding comes out of it with a full understanding of what crowdfunding is about” said Vincent Ricordeau, KissKissBankBank’s co-founder and CEO. “We want to welcome project owners and the general public, to show them “in the flesh” what crowdfunding can bring.”
The KissKissBankBank venture started in 2009 when Vincent Ricordeau and his two co-founders Ombline le Lasseur and Adrien Aumont founded the rewards-based crowdfunding platform KissKissBankBank which is now available to European project owners and contributors in 7 languages. In 2013, the three co-founders launched the interest-free lending platform hellomerci and in 2014 the SME crowdlending platform Lendopolis. In total, to date, the three platforms have raised more than €70 million from more than 1 million contributors.
Last year, the company raised €8 million from institutional investors to accelerate its own development. Its goal is now to shift gear and go mainstream. In the words of Vincent Ricordeau:
“When we started out, our goal was simply to help creative artists finance their projects. Seven years and €70 million later, our ambition is much bigger. We want to help finance the entire real economy, meaning small and medium size businesses of all sectors from culture to agriculture over clean energy. We want to help our contributors regain power over their money by enabling them to decide what it is used for.”
To win entrepreneurs and contributor to the cause of crowdfunding, KissKissBankBank has asked an independent agency to conduct an impact study. Based on a survey of 11,000 project owners and contributors to the KissKissBankBank platforms, the study shows that each €1 of crowdfunding contribution has generated €2 of economic value and one in three projects financed in crowdfunding helped create a new job. The company intends to continue tracking such performance indicators over time.
In fitting with the spirit of the place, several entrepreneurs came to the opening of la Maison du Crowdfunding to testify in person of the value that crowdfunding had brought to their business. They all agreed that beyond quicker financing, crowdfunding had brought to them a community of supporters who helped them (re-)design and popularize their project.
“When we crowdfunded our cooking lab, some contributors were experts who gave free advice on lab design.” said Celine Guibert, founder of a specialty donut store.
“Crowdfunding puts business founding back the right way by asking customers first, before going into mass production.” Said Nicolas Julhes whom two crowdfunding campaigns helped found an urban micro-distillery that could never have been backed by a bank.
In the same vein, Luc Egnell of clean energy company Arkolia explained how crowdfunding quickly delivered an unsecured loan at the development phase of one of its clean energy project.
“Our second crowdlending campaigned raised €200K from 1,100 lenders. As a mid-size company with €50 million revenue, we would never have been able to touch so many people without crowdfunding.”
In their diversity, these store owners, manufacturers and service providers reflected the creativity and innovation that remains the hallmark of KissKissBankBank and manifests itself once again in the ground-breaking opening of the Maison du Crowdfunding.
Therese Torris, PhD, is a Senior Contributor to Crowdfund Insider. She is an entrepreneur and consultant in eFinance and eCommerce based in Paris. She has covered crowdfunding and P2P lending since the early days when Zopa was created in the United Kingdom. She was a director of research and consulting at Gartner Group Europe, Senior VP at Forrester Research and Content VP at Twenga. She publishes a French personal finance blog, Le Blog Finance Pratique.