2013: improved conditions for crowdfunding in Austria?
The WKO (Austrian Economic Chambers)’s Junge Wirtschaft (“Young Economy”) has started an initiative to help startups and young entrepreneurs raise funds. It has set up an advisory board to discuss alternative ways of financing, which will be presented to the public in mid-January (see the German press release here).
The recent case of Heini Staudinger, who has used crowdinvesting to finance his company GEA, shows that although entrepreneurship is about challenging the boundaries, this can get tricky if these boundaries are set by financial regulators (see inventures.eu’s article here).
Conda, an upcoming Austrian crowdinvesting platform has joined the round table talks alongside other crowdfunding initiatives and consultants, who have met up twice since December. Conda co-founder Daniel Horak told inventures.eu that he believes the advisory board is “more than just lip service.”
Will the WKO’s initiative be able to bring about actual changes in the legal framework? “Action simply has be taken, otherwise Austria will be outcompeted as a business location,” Horak says.
Christoph Fischer of respekt.net, an Austrian platform for funding political initiatives welcomes the WKO’s move. “It’s positive because it will help raise awareness for the issue.” According to Fischer, who has been involved with respekt.net since its start in 2010, “There is still a lack of understanding when it comes to the topic of crowdfunding. Web-savvy users know about it but your average Austrian doesn’t. Moreover, many still believe that it is enough to simply submit a project to a crowdfunding platform and everything else will happen by itself.”
Similarly, Horak believes that by raising awareness, crowdfunding will achieve broad acceptance. Regarding legal obstacles, he hopes that the Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) will take a more active role in advising crowdfunding projects prophylactically, while clearing up that Conda, which is set to launch in February, is on the safe side, legally speaking.
As with all initiatives that start with an “advisory board”, it remains to be seen whether this enthusiasm can become a serious game changer and whether the parties involved will actually “get up off their arses and stop just talking about it”, to put it in the words of Monty Python.