Category Archives: Investment

The Winners and Losers of Reward-based Crowdfunding

By Kristian Roed Nielsen.

Proponents of reward-based crowdfunding have touted its emergence as an alternative source of innovation finance as an exciting and democratizing event. This democratization is enabled via the unique blend of crowdsourcing (Poetz and Schreier 2012) and micro-financing (Morduch 1999). Fundraising is enabled by a widely dispersed community of users, whose interactions are facilitated by one or more platforms (e.g., IndieGoGo, Kickstarter, Kiva), trading “a small group of sophisticated investors” for “large audiences (the ‘crowd’)” (Belleflamme, Lambert, and Schwienbacher 2014:2). But how does the change in investors really change who is rewarded – basically who are the winners and losers of reward-based crowdfunding? It was with this question in mind that Caleb Gallemore, Kristjan Jespersen and I set out to follow the money and identify exactly where and who benefits from this new source of finance by analyzing data from the large US-based reward-based platform IndieGoGo.

Where does the (crowd) money go and why?
Firstly, and perhaps not surprisingly, it appears that it is the already affluent regions that benefit the most from crowdfunding activities, while less well-off areas still receive the short end of the stick. Clearly while crowdfunding may offer an extra opportunity for achieving financing, this does not offset other factors that play an important role in entrepreneurial success e.g. background, education and social network that favour areas already affluent.

More surprisingly we also found that increased competition – i.e. more campaigns – actually increase the likelihood of funding success. For each percentage increase in the number of campaigns in the same neighborhood, we estimate a decrease of about 11% in the odds that each of those campaigns will receive no funding pledges. Indicating the increased competition actually results in a net positive outcome where campaigns rather than leeching of one another, generate momentum for further success. This may be because of increased levels of visibility of crowdfunding activities as a whole at the local level. In other words, people living in areas with more crowdfunding activities might be more aware of the practice, increasing the pool of potential investors. Another possibility is that areas with high levels of crowdfunding activities might generate local communities that can share knowledge and advice about the process, improving the quality of local ventures.

Finally, and still undergoing analysis, we increasingly find that certain people are – naturally – more successful then others at achieving crowdfunding success. Witnessing that for each successful campaign launched by an individual or group the likelihood for future success increases dramatically – hence after five successful campaigns launched by a given person or group they have a near 100 pct. chance of future success. We are perhaps witnessing the birth of the professional crowdfunder.

Crowdfunding as the democratizing agent of innovation?
As money seems to coalesce around certain regions and individuals we have to wonder whether this trend will continue. Will we increasingly see certain regions and individuals benefitting while other less well-off or professional lose out? And what does this mean for crowdfunding as the democratizing agent of innovation? It offers opportunity for you and I to drive innovation, but that innovation process itself perhaps unsurprisingly still seems to cluster around certain regions and persons. While this is by no means the final word – this is still early day research of only one sample – these observations nevertheless complicate the idea of relying on crowdfunding as a new mechanism for economic development, poverty reduction, or social action. While crowdfunding certainly provides a new way to access capital, it may not provide such access equitably.


Kristian is Assistant Professor at the Department of Management, Society and Communication and Visiting Researcher at Mistra Center for Sustainable Markets – Stockholm School of Economics. His research explores the potential role that “the crowd” could play in enabling sustainable entrepreneurship and innovation. Follow him on Twitter @RoedNielsen.

Pic by olgavisavi, via Fotolia.

Banking on the Future – Driving Responsibility and Sustainability in the Financial Sector

By Lavinia Iosif-Lazar.

While the world seems to have moved on from the last financial crisis, one can only wonder if banks and financial institutions have learnt something from it that could steer them away from repeating the experience. From the educational side, we also have to consider whether business schools are able to instill in their graduates the values and norms to navigate financial institutions into clearer waters.

100 Years CBS – Time to Rethink Finance
During a CBS conference in the late months of 2017, academics and practitioners within the finance and banking industries alike had come together to think and “rethink the financial sector”. The purpose of the event was to bring to light the issues and opportunities of responsibility and sustainability within the financial sector, and create an agenda for future research and teaching in business schools, like CBS.

Over the course of the event, the ambition was to develop a dialogue with stakeholders from the banking and finance industry and to challenge the current attitude towards banking and its future with “responsibility” being the word of the day. The hope was that this dialogue would ignite new ideas and develop an agenda for future research and teaching in business schools towards 2117.

During the three tracks focusing on society, business models and the individual, with responsible banking being the overarching theme, participants heard speakers address issues spanning from the role Fintech and disruptive technologies like blockchain and cryptocurrencies play in industry innovation to different religious perspectives on banking and finance.

To Rethink Finance, we need to Rethink Education
When it comes to financial education, the focus was set on bringing it in sync with the new developments and real life challenges, while at the same time stressing the need for a business model based on valuation and normative principles. In crisis situations, the clear-cut modelling learnt in school no longer represents the norm. Education plays a major role in securing that the new generations of graduates have the capabilities needed to identify and understand people and their needs, rethink and modernize local banking and be attuned to the technological developments that can pave the way to a more responsible banking sector  – centered on people instead of money.


Lavinia is project coordinator at CBS PRME. You can visit the PRME Office at Dalgas Have 15, Room 2C.007  & follow CBS PRME on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Pic by Markus Leo (Unsplash), edited by BOS.

Dirty Oil or Green Energy in the Faroe Islands?

By Árni Johan Petersen.

These are the stories from the two divided camps in the Faroe Islands – please give your take on this dilemma. Should the Faroese explore and produce oil in the Faroe Islands that will contribute to global energy safety and stability to an ever growing global energy demand? Or should the Faroese stop this process now, and rethink the current state of the world where the Faroe Islands could become the front-runner for green solutions to statuette an example, and stop the greenhouse gasses deriving from fossil fuel energy by saying no to oil?

Background
The 4th license round for rights to oil exploration in the Faroe Islands was May 17th 2017, and the search for oil in the offshore subsoil in the Faroe Islands might continue if there is an interest from international oil companies to invest in the exploration. Since the first license round in 2000 there have been conducted nine drillings in the Faroese offshore subsoil without any commercial fund but results have concluded the subsoil to have a hydro-carbon active system in place.

Today, the Faroese economy is strong, unemployment rate is close to 2 per cent, young Faroese are moving back home, population has surpassed 50.000 inhabitants for the first time, salmon industry is booming (has done so for seven years), tourism is booming (four years), and the fishery is booming. A society in prosperity where the incentives to create new jobs might be vanishing because there are no Faroese to fill in the positions and foreign workforce might become a necessary solution to keep the (capitalistic) wheels going.

Pro-oil exploration Camp
The Faroese Ben Arabo, CEO at Atlantic Petroleum, argues that the Faroe Islands should explore for oil in the Faroese subsoil. The world, he argues, demands oil and gas in large quantities because the world consumes 100 million barrels of oil every day, and the demand is increasing. Oil, as a percentage of the total world energy consumption, is decreasing but the growth of energy demand is so great that the demand for oil in quantity increases every year. Currently, he continues, approximately one third of the global energy demand derives from oil, one third from coal, and one fourth from gas. The rest derives from nuclear energy, water and other renewable energy currently supplying one-digit percentage of the global energy production.

We, who live in the privileged part of the world, Ben argues, take energy stability and security for granted while other parts of the world, e.g. India, China, Indonesia etc., do not have this luxury. Ben recommends people who think they could survive without oil should examine how long time passes before they use the first object that demands oil in its production process (e.g. tooth brush). Hydrocarbon is present in a large numbers of product ranging from mountain helmet, solar panels, aspirin, and tooth paste. The wishful thinking of “no-oil-tomorrow” is based on ideology rather than technology, Ben concludes.

Resistance Camp
For the first time since the Faroese started to dream about finding oil we are observing resistance in the Faroese community. These are mainly environmentalists who have joined forces in an attempt to stop the oil exploration in the Faroe Islands. One local NGO, Ringrás, is represented by Ingmar Valdemarsson á Løgmansbø who argues:

“The context of the opening of the fourth Faroese hydrocarbon licensing round is marked by increasing ecological turmoil and biosphere degradation stemming from anthropogenic climate change and widespread habitat destruction. Fundamentally, our global society is built upon a measure of success (unrelenting growth) which, when achieved, clashes with the integrity of the interconnected ecosystems that make life on earth viable, and thus, enable civilisation as we know it.

The challenges we face, as a country and a global community, are much greater and more fundamental than the question of energy supply alone. But nevertheless, it is evident that the energy systems of the future must, by necessity, be renewable, if they – and we – are to last. Reality is catching up with our complacency and the thwarted efforts to ditch fossil fuels and racing ahead of our expectations, but luckily on two fronts:

  1. The forecast dangers of rapid climate change are showing themselves at an accelerated, unexpected and ominous pace.
  2. Key renewable technologies have matured to take on and render fossil fuels largely obsolete.

Focusing on the latter in relation to the former, it is entirely untimely, unnecessary and unethical for the Faroe Islands to venture into a dirty industry that would threaten the mainstays of the Faroese economy, namely the fishing industry and tourism, whilst contributing to an uncertain future in favor of very dubious short-term financial gain, prone to suffer from stranded assets as disruptive technologies coupled with global weirding and climate policy expedite the transition to a low-carbon society. This is underlined by the recent developments in India, where 14 Gt of planned coal power stations have been cancelled in May alone on account of Solar PV directly outcompeting coal.

In this environment of change, we must embrace the shift away from fossil fuels and take on the potential leading role that our national goal of 100% renewable electricity generation by 2030 promises to imbue us with. This path is what we as a country need and what the world needs and, best of all, it won’t cost the world.”

According to Ingmar the Faroe Islands, the Faroese Government, has signed the Paris Agreement (COP21) which includes lowering the carbon emission to decrease the global warming.  The Faroese Minister of Industry and Foreign Affairs, Poul Michelsen, has also publically stated his support to the agreement and the Faroe Islands should be the frontrunner in the battle against fossil fuel emission adding to the fire of global warming. The long term perspective, according to Ingmar, is that this will be the sustainable solution regarding environment, society, and economics because the Faroe Islands are heavily dependent on their fisheries, salmon farming, and tourism. Oil industry will add to the carbon quantity in the natural environment and changes in the ecology will alter the livelihood of the resources in the sea. This, in turn, will negatively affect the natural resources in the Faroe Islands harming the economy and society in the long run. Exploring for oil has to stop now!

The Broader Picture
The International Energy Agency (IEA) recommends exploring for more oil in the Scandinavian area because this will provide global energy stability and security. This argument is based on the fact that the political system is transparent, and the regulation for oil activities is progressive in terms of natural environment, work processes, and overall safety. The Middle East is, according to IEA, not the most reliable nor stable area, while Scandinavian countries are triple-A-democracies, market economies and predictable partners.

Producing more oil will lower the price of oil and this automatically decreases the incentives to invest in research and development of renewable energy solutions because the energy consumer demand will, in general, follow the least expensive solution. In contrast, if the oil production is stopped the oil price will go up and the demand for alternative solutions becomes pressing and the investors will predict return on investment. This will speed up the process to develop renewable energy solutions but we will probably experience political power changes on the global arena, e.g. a stronger Middle East. The question is, for how long? The sooner the world moves to alternative energy solution the global arena will change, again, and this might be the only sustainable solution because the emission and global warming is already at a critical stage.

So, should the Faroese provide for energy stability and security, or should they be the front-runners to say “no” to oil? Could the Faroe Islands become a role model for other societies in the Arctic and beyond? And if the Faroe Islands can do this, could other countries learn from this small country? Is the Faroese political (Governmental) agenda hypocritical because of its duplicity? Or is this hypocrisy a necessary aspiration to prosper as a small society in the Arctic that might spread to other small societies in the Arctic?


Árni Petersen is PhD-Fellow at the Department of Management, Society and Communication at Copenhagen Business School. His PhD project pursues the research question: “How does future expectation of wealth deriving from the oil affect the Faroese society and the potential outcomes in the future in the Faroe Islands?” His research features an in-depth case study of the Faroese Oil Industry, including interviews, observations, and local newspaper articles about the oil industry.

You can find Árni on LinkedIn.

Pics by BSEE & Christian Reimer, edited by BOS.

Reward-based Crowdfunding for Sustainable Entrepreneurs: A Practitioner’s Guide

By Kristian Roed Nielsen.

 In my last blog post, I offered some initial insights and ideas into how crowdfunding could be employed to support sustainable innovation. This time, having just finished my Ph.D. dissertation, I provide some hands-on advice for (sustainable) entrepreneurs wishing to succeed with reward-based crowdfunding based on mine and others’ latest research.

 Reward-based crowdfunding represents a rapidly growing source of innovation funding for a diversity of entrepreneurs, start-ups and even established firms. Crowdfunding success depends on the ability to mobilize strangers to support other strangers for causes, products or services that have not yet been realized and of which they have little direct oversight or control. This trust between and in strangers is fascinating for a host of reasons – how do individuals project trust so that others believe it, why do people trust and not least how is trust maintained? Also, what happens when innovation financiers are no longer professional investors, but rather ‘normal’ citizens like you and me? This is what my dissertation tried to uncover and below are a series of Q&As with regard to the question of how entrepreneurs can successfully achieve funding.

Q&As for Sustainable Entrepreneurs Planning to Pursue Reward-based Crowdfunding

1. What is your target?
The amounts typically raised by successful crowdfunding campaigns vary greatly. However, the average funding level of fully funded campaigns is approximately $8,000. Campaigns seeking significantly greater sums should also consider alternatives

2. Have you budgeted for failure (and success)?
A large majority of campaigns fail to meet their funding goals, but the costs relating to preparation are rarely accounted for (Gerber & Hui 2013; Mollick 2014). Even when successful, campaign founders often fail to account accurately for costs associated with implementing their project plan. These include higher than expected development costs or even mailing and return costs (Blaseg & Skiera 2016). Blaseg & Skiera (2016) note that one-in-ten fully funded campaigns fail to deliver on the promised product or service.

3. Have you succeeded or failed in the past?
Past success and failure are strongly associated with the likelihood of funding success. A prior successful campaign is associated with a 173% increase in expected funding receipts, while past failure is associated with a 17,7% reduction in expected funding receipts. Therefore, at the very least consider asking successful campaigns’ founders for advice.

4. Have you prepared a dissemination strategy?
The scale, connectedness, and “quality” of your team are significant predictors of crowdfunding success (Zheng et al. 2014; Nielsen et al. 2017). A large majority of campaigns receive only small amounts of support, while a small minority of campaigns receives the bulk of funds raised. For example, in the case of IndieGoGo “the top 10% of campaigns receive nearly 80 % of funds pledged to campaigns in our sample” (Nielsen et al. 2017: 16). Most campaigns fail early and significantly below their target. In addition, the ability to mobilize female support appears to lead to higher pledging levels (Nielsen 2017).

5. Where are you located?
A campaign located in an urban setting with high median income and social capital is significantly more likely to receive funding as compared to ones located in poorer rural areas.

6. What type of product are you pursuing?
Consumer goods that are out of sight or not directly related to personal style appear to attract significant higher levels of pledges, based on altruistic and/or environmental values. Conversely, visible consumer-goods related to personal style (e.g. new headphones or fashion items) appear to attract investments based on egocentric (or hedonistic) characteristics. The product you are pursuing affects what message works and which doesn’t.

7. Finally, how easy is your product to copy?
Be aware that there are copy-cats that use platforms like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter to trawl for easy to copy ideas and products (Smith 2013). Hence before announcing your campaign try to have your supply chain as ready as possible.

Reward-based Crowdfunding: Multifaceted Challenges and Untapped Potentials for Sustainable Entrepreneurs
Aside from these areas that sustainable entrepreneurs (and others) should be aware of when pursuing reward-based crowdfunding: is reward-based crowdfunding is a good match for sustainable entrepreneurs at all? As academic as it sounds, it depends. It depends on the purpose of the endeavor that sustainable entrepreneurs pursue, the sum of money they seek, where they are located, their social capital and network, their prior experience, and to a not insignificant extend on the product they are pursuing.

Furthermore, for all these attributes outlined, numerous of others are unaccounted for. As with any other human activity, there is a complexity that cannot simply be unspun in the span of a single dissertation. Nor can we detangle consumption in crowdfunding from the larger driving forces of consumer behavior. The fact that innovation finance can now be driven by consumers rather than professional investors does not in itself change consumer demands – demands which more often than not fail to correlate well with sustainable consumption behavior (Jackson & Michaelis 2003).

However, this does not imply a lack of significant potential within reward-based crowdfunding; especially because of the increasing recognition that individual behavior is strongly affected by, for example, the choice architecture inhabited by the individual (Thaler & Sunstein 2008; Sunstein & Reisch 2014). There is thus an evident potential for utilizing these insights in online crowdfunding platforms as well. Individual behavior is neither linear nor is it written in stone. It is rather shaped by a multitude of factors as illustrated in the dissertation; hence it is a matter of constructing a context that encourages the better angels of our nature.

The message, which the dissertation then seeks to instill in the reader, is that reward-based crowdfunding is not a silver-bullet to solving the funding concerns of sustainable entrepreneurship. Yet,  at the heart of what we call “the crowd” there lies a potential that remains – at least at the moment – largely untapped.


Kristian is a PhD-Fellow studying the potential of crowdfunding in driving sustainable innovation. He is home to the Department of Management, Society and Communication (MSC) at Copenhagen Business School. Follow him on Twitter.

Pic by Torsten Maue, edited by BOS.

The Task At Hand: Facing a Trump America

The following post by American CBS MBA student Wynne Lewis is an accompanying piece she wrote recently for the Financial Times’ MBA Blog.

Titled “Case for responsible business post Trump and Brexit shocks“, Wynne spoke to the shocks of the recent inauguration of Mr. Trump in the U.S. and the vote for Brexit in the UK. She argues that these events are creating many setbacks to the strides we have taken recently in favour of human rights and combating climate change. But they are also catalysts for positive change for the individuals who are fired up and ready to go stand up for what matters most – for example by contributing to a more sustainable economy by founding your own venture.

Read the full post on the FT MBA Blog.

In her latest piece on the CBS MBA blog, she now offers a little bit of inspiration to get you started with making a change.


By Wynne Lewis.

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said,

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

We fear regression, but there is much we can do.

I spoke with my classmates (representative of countries from all around the world), my professors, and visiting speakers and here is a little bit of inspiration to get you started.

For Employers / Employees:

  • Recognise the power of business. Do not be ignorant to your own influence. There is no such thing as an a-political corporation in the polarised climate under which we are operating today. Every decision must be intentional.
  • Create meaningful working class jobs. If your consumers are voting pro-nationalism, are they willing to pay a higher price for locally sourced products? Can you source your products or raw materials locally? Can you conduct market research to prove your case to investors? There may even be a risk management case to make for keeping the supply chain close for better transparency.
  • Treat your employees with respect and invest in their development. Look at the most recently hired/promoted people at your company. Are they a diverse group? Are you promoting from within? If not, chances are good that some of your talent is falling through the cracks or not being developed. It may not be intentional, but you can become aware of it and take strides to be sure you are capitalizing on your best resource – your employees.
  • If you have employees who may feel marginalised or unsafe in the current social climate sparked by the election, reach out and check-in with them. Do they feel safe in their commute to work? (This has been very relevant for many of my friends living in New York, so it is worth asking.) Is there anything you can do to help? Has the office climate changed at all for them? It is important that they are able to focus on doing a good job without feeling marginalised or harassed at work. Keep tabs on this. If handled with care, you will foster the establishment of a strong working environment and retain your talented minority (women included) workers.
  • Look for business opportunities. What was the change you were hoping for? Is there a gap in products/services today and the products/services we need to achieve that change? Your next great venture may just be hidden in the void.

You will know best how these things must ultimately align with a clear business case appropriate for your company, but it is important to point out those business practices that shape our countries, our politics, and ultimately our societies.

For Investors:

  • Divest from energy companies who are not investing in the future. Oil is booming right now with the recent elections, but the future will hold a diverse portfolio of energy sources. Companies who are only focused on fossil fuels are resisting innovation.
  • Be an active voter in the companies you invest in. If you hold stocks in companies that are doing things that you do not support – underpaying workers, polluting, vocalising racist sentiment – use your voice as a shareholder to change things. Be active and let them know that as an owner you do not support the way they are operating the business. Chances are high, you are not alone. Get other investors involved.
  • Invest in companies that are good for people, planet, and profit. There are many resources for those interested in impact investing. Read up and put your money where your values are.

On the personal side: invest in values you care about. Whatever they are, donate your time or money to the things that matter most. Create the world you want to live in and that you want your children to live in. Consider it a long-term investment.

The most important thing ultimately is to do something. So get out there, and be active.

Have some great ideas? Please add a comment below.


Based in New York, Wynne is currently enrolled as an MBA student at Copenhagen Business School. She was attracted to the Copenhagen MBA for its strong focus on Responsible Management and the promise of a global classroom. Post-MBA, she is toying with the idea of starting her own venture. She is a blogger for the Financial Times MBA blog, where she hopes to tell the story of what really powers her passion for Responsible Management on the far-reaching global business platform that is the Financial Times.

Pic by Pexels

Crowdfunding for Sustainability: Creating a platform for sustainable ideas

By Kristian Roed Nielsen.

Crowdfunding as phenomenon is strange as it fundamentally boils down to strangers supporting strangers for causes, products or services that have not yet been realized and of which they have little direct oversight or control. Despite this oddity, crowdfunding is growing rapidly.  Just between 2013 – 2014, approx. €2.3 billion were raised, enabling a vast number of enterprises to grow and ideas to become reality. As engaged scholars, the question thus becomes: how to utilize this phenomenon as a means to drive sustainable ideas and projects?

Early testbeds for sustainable crowdfunding

The examples of EcoCrowd, GreenCrowd, and Kiva all point to the potential of crowdfunding in driving both environmental, but also social development and innovation. The case of the German crowdfunding platform EcoCrowd is especially interesting as it illustrates how public finances can be used to create platforms dedicated to tackling environmental challenges by co-supporting their development.

The added benefit of these types of platforms is that they, if successful, become self-sustaining resource centers for further sustainable ideas and ventures. More precise, these platform allow citizens to engage directly in driving sustainable change by supporting, for example, community projects. One example of this includes the The Peckham Coal Line urban park that sought to convert the old raised Peckham coal line in London into a raised urban park via an online campaign on the civic crowdfunding website SpaceHive.

The Peckham Coal Line further illustrates how policymakers can draw-upon the strengths of crowdfunding by co-financing community projects if they hit a certain level of financing. The Peckham Coal Line ultimately successfully raising £75,757a of which government funds represented £10,000 in backing. In this way, community projects could be driven via the entrepreneurial ideas of members of the community.

Future platforms

The future of these platforms of course very much depends on many factors, such as the quality of the campaigns hosted. Prior successful campaigns show that people are indeed willing to engage and raise significant amounts of money. But this requires that people see value in the campaigns hosted. If to many campaigns fail or there simply aren’t enough to inspiring further action, then the platforms will slowly decline.

Therefore, I propose that a collaboration between sustainability-oriented organizations – like Sustainia – represent a great opportunity to find these inspiring campaigns. Sustainia with their Sustainia Awards have a huge database of sustainable ideas and projects just waiting to be supported and scaled. One could even imagine a “Peoples Choice” award where individual vote with their valets for the solution, technology or project they found most inspiring and worthwhile. Sustainia could thus create a platform rich with innovative ideas and projects and “the crowd” can offer the support needed to truly bring these ideas to life.


Kristian is PhD-Fellow studying the potential of crowdfunding in driving sustainable innovation. He is home to the Department of Intercultural Communication and Management at Copenhagen Business School. Follow him on Twitter.

Original Pic by Tommy L, Flickr, changes made by BOS