People power now funding new businesses


Bank liquidity drought and risk aversion sees ‘crowd’ financing taking up the slack, from Frome to Fontainbleu and beyond

By ECM Plus staff

ECM Plus +++ A new venture in South West England is blazing a trail in post-meltdown financing for new, small businesses.

The Bicycle Academy, tipped to be fastest “crowd-funded” enterprise in UK is a Frome-based enterprise which builds bicycles to send to people in Africa, and is ready for business thanks to a revolutionary new website backed by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

According to the Bicycle Academy, one of’s launch projects, reached it’s £40,000 funding requirement target in less than a week, making it the fastest “crowd-funded” project in Britain.

The venture said that the finance was needed in order to set up an innovative bicycle-building academy, where students at the academy learn how to build bicycle frames, the first of which, once completed, is distributed to Africa via enterprise partner charities.

The humanitarian remit of the venture will see the bicycles they make helping to provide vital transport links to food, water and education.

Andrew Denham, founder and organiser at the Acadamy said: “The response to our Peoplefund campaign has been overwhelming, not only did we sell all the available course places, but we’ve generated a healthy waiting list too.”

The team said it believes it’s the fastest “crowd-funded” venture in Britain ever.

‘Crowd-funding’ or ‘social-funding’ is an increasingly popular way of raising money, where the general public get together to pool their cash to back an business idea. enables people with a potentially world-changing business idea to ask the general public for the funding they need to set up or expand. The business sets a target for how much money it wants to raise, and explains what it will do with the cash. People can then make make pledges of small amounts of money in return for ‘a reward’ if the target funding is raised.

“It’s a simple, but powerful idea” commented Keo Digital managing director, Nick Underhill. “In the case of a sustainable bakery, the bakery might pledge to give each of its “pledgers” free bread in return for a small cash investment. Then when it hits target, not only has the bakery raised the cash, it has also generated its own set of customers instantly. Pledges start at £1 and money doesn’t leave anyone’s account until the target is raised.”

Key to the proposition is that featured projects make a positive difference for the better. “We are looking for good ideas, that might just change the world. We want to empower people to take positive action” he added.

The venture said that business ideas can come from anywhere, as long as they solve a 21st century challenge. The site has sections for community, heath, environmental, food, energy and recreational ventures. Other ideas which are currently looking for funding are The Chicken Shop, a free-range chicken shop; sustaination, which connect local food buyers with sellers and Raise the Dough, a sustainable bakery. has been developed by KEO, the BAFTA-award winning media production company set up around Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and River Cottage. The KEO team have built up a unrivalled reputation for media innovation with their Fish Fight Campaign, Energyshare, Landshare and the Oscar nominated Banksy film, ‘Exit Behind the Gift Shop’.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, chef, campaigner, presenter and director at KEO films, added: “The success of our Fish Fight, Landshare, and Energyshare campaigns have shown that solutions often come from grass roots collective action, and have the power to affect more remarkable change than we really ever imagined. builds on that momentum, and gives people the means to take their ideas forward. That, in a nutshell, is why I’m excited about”

“ aims to be the first widely used platform enabling people to come together to invest in businesses and entrepreneurs with game-changing ideas to create solutions to some of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. And, in doing so, help to launch the next generation of entrepreneurs, businesses and empowered individuals” added Rob Love, director of Keo.


1 Comment

Filed under Asset management, Business Risk, Collaboration, Industry News, Investor Relationship Management, Risk Management

One response to “People power now funding new businesses

  1. Thanks for your interest in We’re on the lookout for new projects at the moment so do sign up online or send us an email here: for more information,

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