Launching any kind of entrepreneurial project, whether it be alone or with a team, has its risks. With it comes a pressure to succeed, from both within oneself and from those closest. This pressure can come in the form of personal pride, ego, and the sense of responsibility for those with dependents. Belief in your idea can be pushed to the very limits by sometimes cynical, but more often apprehensive loved ones.
Co-founder of Invesdor, Lasse Mäkelä, and his five friends were bored corporate professionals with good solid incomes, before they decided three years ago to risk it all on a collective idea to revolutionise the Nordic crowdfunding scene. "We were 6 guys who were all working in corporate world at the beginning. I think we were bored with our corporate world, we wanted to have something more meaningful," says Mäkelä, speaking from a more comfortable position of CEO, the other side of some quite difficult and challenging early years.
Having run Invesdor for a year from a distance, the safety of a salaried post with regular hours, Mäkelä decided to immerse himself completely on receipt of substantial external investment, a shift in his working pattern which caused ripples in his family life, "It was a bit difficult at home as my wife was not very happy... I was working all the time in different places," he confesses, then adding, "but also in terms of being a pioneer in crowdfunding, you had to talk a lot about crowdfunding and educate people."
The very term crowdfunding may baffle some of the more traditional entrepreneurs, used to pitching to investors and business angles alike, but according to Mäkelä, "the term itself says it's a crowd, funding something... it's a matching service." Differing from global crowdfunding sites Kickstarter and Indiegogo, which sell products and perks, on Invesdor investors can buy real shares in startup companies. So far 40 companies have raised a total of 7.8 million euros using Invesdor platform.
The startup scene is social and elusive by nature; "The first 12 months you did not really know where it was heading," he says with a grounded sincerity. This modest attitude, typical of those whose road has been peppered with obstacles, reveals the man behind Invesdor, "There is always the balance of how long you need to hit your head against the wall before you actually get through, or you just give up. In our case we had to hit our heads quite often against the wall."
His outlook is realistic, but by no means pessimistic, he allows a cheeky optimism through, saying that, "In the end we do not know yet whether Invesdor is going to be successful, but so far it looks good."