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Stock crowdfunding platform PledgeMe turns into Microwd to focus on female-founded startups

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New Zealand equity crowdfunding startup PledgeMe is back with a new name, microwaveand a new focus on female-led startups.

The decade-old CSF venture is now managed by Finley Capital Partners, an investment software firm, which has appointed Megan Owen as head of Equity Crowdfunding.

As a PledgeMe, Microwd first crossed the ditch from Wellington to Australia in 2019, campaigning for the likes of Mungalli Creek Dairy, which raised more than $700,000, and Food Connect Shed, which raised $2 million. The campaigns stalled amid the pandemic before relaunching in late 2021, with plans to use its own platform to raise capital before Finley intervened.

Megan Owen knows all about the life of a startup as a co-founder of an ASX publicly traded software company and is a veteran in investor relations and strategic communications. She is eager to improve access to capital for female founders.

“Female-led companies are known to leverage their inherent strengths to provide benefits in addition to return on investment,” she said.

“While there has been a tangible shift within the investment ecosystem worldwide to actively support women-led businesses, it’s no secret that there has been a discrepancy in funding outcomes for women.”

Retail investors can invest up to $10,000 in a CSF startup campaign, and Owen says those backers are looking for companies that resonate with them.

“We are leveraging this sentiment to attract inspiring women-led companies to the platform based on quality and innovation, and the desire to achieve other benefits beyond financial returns, such as environmental, social or community benefits,” said they.

“It’s no secret that women-led companies excel in customer experience, efficiency, culture, retention, social and environmental outcomes and engagement, driving growth and profitability. Investors know this.

“Microwd aligns great women-led companies with investors who consider the whole of the business, its impact and its potential.”

Equity crowdfunding in Australia enables growth startup companies to raise up to $5 million through a licensed crowdsourced equity financing platform.

Last year, Zero Co broke local CSF records with a maximum raise of $5 million in record time. Investors crowdsourced more than $71 million in 89 companies in 2021.

recent analysis of PwCworking with US-based The Crowdfunding Center, which looked at two years of seed crowdfunding data, it was found that female-led companies had 32% more success with crowdfunding to raise compared to male-led campaigns.

Pauline Fetaui Founder of CheeHoo and General Manager of River City Labs said, “I am thrilled that Microwd is launching to support female founders at such a pivotal stage in their startup journey. The platform will support Australia’s pre-seed and seed investment ecosystem, while also being a catalyst to help close the funding gap for female founders and female-led, early-growth companies.”

Microwd will initially focus on areas such as agritech, healthtech, fintech, SaaS, retail and consumer. Details at microwd.com.au

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