Crowdfunding can 'democratise' IPOs and hedge funds

The UK is a "world leader" in equity crowdfunding, with further democratisation set to open up everything from hedge funds to IPOs in the next few years.

Speaking at WIRED Money 2015 Darren Westlake, co-founder and CEO of leading investment crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, said the future of crowdfunding in the UK and around the world was "more democratisation".

"Crowdfunding platforms are well positioned" to "put the P back into IPO," he explained, pointing to the success of Crowdcube's existing equity system as an example of public interest.

As well as IPOs, Westlake also claimed developments in crowdfunding will allow people to invest more easily in private equity funds and hedge funds. "The crowd is now much bigger," Westlake said.

The Exeter-based firm, founded in 2011, has to date raised over £80m in investments for new businesses. Westlake explained that crowdfunding was now supporting bigger companies, with everyone from individuals to venture capital funds such as Balderton Capital getting involved.

And the buzz is driving huge growth. In 2012 the average raise was £115,000 -- in the first six months of 2015 that figure passed £500,000.

Part of the reason for that success is regulation. Westlake praised the UK for being one of the first countries in the world to introduce "bespoke" regulation for crowdfunding, quickly creating an exciting market.

"We're the world leaders and we should be proud of that," he said.

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