Kevin McCloud reveals grand designs with CrowdFunding

Photo by : The Week magazine

Photo by : The Week magazine

HE’S known as “the king of the ambitious self-build”, but now Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud is “the king of equity crowd-funding too”, says Gabriella Griffith in Management Today. His sustainable housing development company Hab Housing (Happiness Architecture Beauty) has raised £1.9m on Crowdcube – “beating the record for the biggest amount ever raised on a crowd-funding platform”.

A total of 649 people are now investors in the company set up by McCloud with the vision of building beautiful environmentally-friendly housing at an affordable cost. “We find it gratifying that so many people have joined Hab’s merry band of shareholders,” he said.

The individual investments ranged from £100 to £150,000 and helped Hab Housing surpass its target in 46 days.

An estimated 60,000 to 70,000 people in Britain have invested via crowd-funding – pooling cash with other small investors to buy shares in start-ups, or lend to small businesses or individuals, says Juliet Samuel in The Times. But there have been concerns the nascent industry would be strangled at birth by regulators.

Crowd-funding platforms will be regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority from April, and there were suggestions that those with less than £1,000 to punt might be “shut out”. But the regulator has now decided that it will, after all, allow “unsophisticated” amateur investors to continue using sites like Crowdcube, InvestingZone and FundingKnight.

Although crowd-funders welcome the shelter of the regulatory umbrella (being able to say “FCA-approved” is crucial for investor confidence), they fear heavy-handed measures. FundingKnight chief executive, Graeme Marshall, says that allowing investors to put in as little as £25 is crucial. “It gives the man of the street the opportunity to get the same returns as an institution.”

As McCloud might say, it was “touch and go” for crowd-funding. “But it pulled through on time and on budget.”

A version of this article appears in the 5 September 2013 issue of The Week. ·

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